Folks ask me all the time why I grow roses. When I think about it, It was just the natural progression of things. I come from a family that finds its roots firmly planted in the deep south and all its awesome traditions. During civil war times, women gathered at cemeteries to decorate the graves of “our glorious dead” with blankets of spring roses. They wept and celebrated the lives of those who so bravely “fought the good fight”. Even today families
gather for “Decoration Day” to decorate the graves of loved ones, to share a meal and to celebrate and remember.
Enter, my first memory of a rose. Every year at Mother’s day, our family would travel to Lawrence County, Tennessee for Decoration Day at Center Point Cemetery. All the women in my family would wear a rose corsage to honor their mom’s. I seem to even remember a strict code of etiquette that was adhered to. It all had something to do with the color of the rose in relation to whether or not your mom was living or dead. These women wore these roses as a badge of honor and also to signify that they had somehow survived all that life had thrown at them. My grandmother, bent and haggard from a very difficult life, never looked prettier than on Mother’s day as she wore a beautiful rose corsage. When she died, my mother went to great pains with the florist to prepare the perfect corsage; beautiful pink roses that she insisted upon placing herself.
From that beginning, I have always held roses in high regard. When I was older and I
watched my mother hack her rose bushes to the ground, I had no idea that this annual
“pruning” was one of the keys to growing a beautiful rose. I grew up and married and all
along the way roses were integrated into my life. At our first house, at the insistence of a
neighbor, I uncovered the root ball of a rose and found it to be a Don Juan climber.
We moved to Alabama and purchased a home. In the back yard was one scraggly rose
bush. My mother, by this time paralyzed and in a nursing home, was quick with advice
on how to save it. “A judicious pruning, some coffee grounds and some of that “miracle
stuff” (miracle grow)”. I followed her advice and the results were phenomenal. That
Spring, my mother passed away and I was the one giving specific instruction to the
florist and had the honor of placing my mom’s final rose proudly on her chest.
So, I dig in the dirt and tend my roses. I exhibit them in shows, and share them with friends, family and strangers. I even began a podcast dedicated to roses. I do it to honor those who have gone before me, and to help promote the care and keeping of our “national floral emblem”. I do it because the rose matters. Roses are a part of so many facets of our lives, I mean look around. If you really check things out, you are surrounded by the rose. They appear on dishes, photographs, upholstery, clothes, shoes, wallpaper, paintings, they are in our gardens and literally surround the landscape of our lives. If every rose has a story, every rose grower has one too! What’s yours?
Some of you may recognize this story. I wrote it a few years ago and it was posted on another persons blog by me as a guest post. They have opted to remove it, so I am reposting it here for posterity.