The roses around the foundation of my house were diseased and bedraggled. The leaves were stunted and insect eaten. One spring I saw a few scraggly pink blooms that weren’t much to look at. I almost tore out the plants by the roots. They were a professional embarrassment to me, a beginning landscaper and flower grower. I even tried to kill them all at once by spraying them with a plant killer. But, they came back stronger the next year. That time they had many beautiful flowers in the spring—old fashioned double blooms, light pink with a delicate sweet aroma, about the size of a daisy.
Out of curiosity, I transplanted some of them to a sunnier, watered place. Wow! Did they love it there! They multiplied like crazy and dazzled us with a tremendous show of blooms in June. Then they were done. Since then I have divided and transplanted them many more places around the yard and given a few away. They seem to spread quite easily from runners that shoot out from the mother plant. The bushes grow to be about three to four feet tall. Every year I take out a few of the older shoots to prevent disease and stimulate new shoots to develop. They seem to bloom on second year growth, unlike ornamental tea roses and the new breeds of hardy roses that bloom on new growth during the summer and fall months.
I don’t know what their name is. I do hope to find out. I have been studying heirloom roses in a search for an answer. In fact the interest that they stimulated in me has resulted in a rather extensive collection of hardy roses coloring every corner of my landscape. I suspect that my dear sweet grandmother transplanted them from somewhere else to brighten up the yard in those days of struggle, sweat and toil when the work on the farm consumed all of their time and energy. Maybe, she carried them with her from Iowa as a loving reminder of her family there. I can picture her stooped over, carefully planting them under the eaves of the house where they would get the most water. That is where I found them.
Now and then I find other heirloom roses growing in the woods and meadows near the Lake Michigan shoreline. They are reminders of a family that once live there and have since moved on. One of my favorites is a pink climbing rose that grows its blooms in clusters of seven. Its name is, “Seven Sisters.”
There are also native roses that grow in the meadows and in the dunes adding a splash of color to the landscape there. Often they are low growing with delicate, dark pink single blooms. They are very tough and hardy. There is a tall delicate shrub rose with a strong sweet scent called a “smooth rose” (rosa blanda). Another rose found among the dunes is the short and prickly “wild rose,” (rosa acicularis). A third rose is not particular to the dunes, called the “pasture rose,” (rosa carolina). They are not as showy as their cultivated and refined cousins, however, they play a special part in the ecosystem holding the soil and hosting a variety of insects.
We are to care for the roses God has given us in His garden. As parents we are to nurture the children we are given, carefully cultivating them to reflect the beauty of their Maker.
A congregation, a church, the body of Christ, is to nurture one another so that she grows together as a sturdy rose plant blooming in rich praises to her Gardener. May we be given that grace.
Grandma made the rose her care,
Digging and watering there.
Carefully pruning the heads.
Daily watering the beds.
She counted each dewy bud.
She pulled off each wiggly bug.
The scent wafting on the air,
Told her that a bloom was there.
Growing her children, each one,
Including my dad, her son,
She nurtured them as they grew,
Until from home they withdrew.
Me let her example teach,
To nurture each child, yes, each!
Until they bloom on their own,
Scented with their Father’s home.