After putting up the photos of two of my rugosas, ‘Apart’ and ‘Mrs. Doreen Pike’, and after turning away from the white landscape outside my window where temperatures have been in the single digits, I found solace in Roses: A Celebration. This book. a collection of 33 eminent gardeners talking about their favorite roses, is edited by Wayne Winterrowd. Not only are the rose fanciers like Peter Beales, Jamaica Kincaid, Michael Polan, Ken Druse, Julie Moir Messervy and Pamela Stagg eloquent, Pamela Stagg has added her delicate and accurate paintings to the work.
Each of these essays has its own charm, and it is interesting to see how – and why – different gardeners respond to different roses. I can identify with Julie Moir Messervy who ‘never really liked roses very much.” And then tells the story of her coming to appreciate roses that are easier to manage than they were in her mother’s day.
Michael Pollan loves two of my favorite roses, ‘Mme Hardy’ and ‘Cuisse de Nymph’. First he describes “‘Mme Hardy’ an aristocrat, incomparably more subtle and, in form , so much more poised, than, say, ‘Dolly Parton,’ with her huge blossoms.” And like me he is fascinated that Cuisse de Nymph comes with so many other and antithetical names: ‘La Virginale’ and ‘La Seduisante’. I call mine ‘Passionate Nymph’s Thigh’ and it was the first rose I bought. The vitality of that Passionat Nymph is evident because she continues to thrive and bloom even though in my thoughtless siting, I planted her right under the roof drip line where ice falls on her all winter. And yet she blooms and scents the air.
A happy discovery is that a nursery that Lloyd Brace mentions, Hortico in Canada, not only sells his favorite ‘Astrid Lindgren’, but some of the rugosas I have found difficult to locate like ‘Apart’.