The picture accompanying this blog post shows two new roses with a remarkable tale to tell. At least, it's remarkable for us. It just goes to illustrate the sort of things that happen to us on a regular basis; sometimes, it seems our lives are filled with the most unusual and yes absolutely unlikely events. I'm not sure if there's any explanation for this; the best one that we have come up with is the smaller rose is, quite simply, a miracle. The larger rose, is, in fact, the younger sibling. Here's their story.
One of the first things we did once we started living together was go out and buy some roses. C has always had some impressive roses in her garden; mine, well, less so; but between the two of us, we wanted to have some significant new rose bushes in the back yard. We had a mooch round the nursery, agreeing what we wanted were roses that were fragrant. All too often, particularly with modern hybrid roses, they are grown for looks but it seems they are bland, if they have any fragrance at all. In addition, roses have caught our eye by name. We picked up a "Lasting Love", a fragrant medium-sized red rose; "Midnight Blue", tiny purple blooms that had a spicy scent; and one other. The names certainly were important to us, but something happened with the third one. The name was on a nursery sign which we had to leave there once we checked out, and, by the time we had got home, the name was forgotten. I have a funny feeling it may have been "What a Peach" – that was a name that caught our eye – but that rose never turned out that way. It produces large yellow flowers with a very fruity fragrance, so we've decided to name it "Lemon Pudding".
We cleared spaces in the flowerbed for these three new bushes, and, after some initial shock, they've been doing very well. 'Lasting Love" tends to peek one bloom or two regularly into our bedroom window, while "Midnight Blue" often explodes into dozens of tiny flowers. "Lemon Pudding" often catches us unawares; it seems yellow roses come and go quite quickly. One day, there's not even a bud. The next day, it's in full bloom, and a day later, it's gone. I've been doing my best through the rainless summer season keeping them watered and trimmed, and they're doing well, but we were still missing the rose we wanted; something fragrant, something orange, and something "peachy".
We scanned some online catalogs to see what was available, and one promising location caught our eye; a family-run rose garden, relatively nearby, one that would make a pleasant afternoon drive. We set out to check the roses out, excited at the prospect of a grower who was interested in raising traditional roses rather than more modern hybrids. The route twisted and turned, climbing up into the hills, narrowing, through beautiful redwood scenery, and we found ourselves at the bottom of a steep drive. At the top, it seemed there was nobody to be found. The house was perched on the top of a hill; quiet. It seemed like the home of a recluse. A simple sign posted on the gate told us that the garden worked on an honor system. If you call ahead and ask for what you want, it should be here. Take it, leave your details in a drop box by the picnic table, and leave. We began to feel a little uneasy. As we walked around the garden, it gave us the unnerving feeling that it was abandoned. It did not seem well taken care of. There were roses that needed watering, treating, trimming. Another patron turned up, as mystified by the whole setup as we were. Disappointed, we turned to leave.
We weren't going to be thwarted quite so easily, so we started reading and researching. I found out a lot about yellow and orange roses. Apparently, the first attempts to produce them were not entirely successful. The color was not too difficult to produce, but often, the scents were unappealing, in fact, some early yellow roses were said to have a scent resembling… well, rotting flesh. As I began looking for traditional roses, I was somewhat surprised to find I had a namesake, Mr Nash, which was, indeed, a yellow rose. We've added that to our list of roses to find at some point, but still, the perfect orange rose seemed like it would be quite a search. C began to look for growers further north, Oregon, Washington. Perhaps their cooler summers might yield us a rose that we'd be able to keep going, with a little TLC. Again, it seems, coincidence struck again. A company called Heirloom had a rose that sounded exactly like what we were after, called "Fragrant Cloud", with a color and scent that was described as "apricot". I doubt I'll ever get the name of this thing right. Every time I think of it, I get confused with the heirloom tomatoes and the Apricot Cloud breakfast treats that we've been picking up at the Hollister Farmers' Market all summer. Our order went in, and the nursery told us to wait around three weeks for delivery. We received confirmation it would be dispatched on July 28, and we just needed to wait for the UPS man to deliver it.
A couple of weeks passed, and there was no rose; and, were it not for far too much crazy Real Life Stuff going on, we would have followed up on it sooner. Towards the end of August, it was evident that the rose was not going to arrive. C contacted the nursery again and asked for the status of our order. They confirmed it had indeed been sent, UPS, on July 28, and, seeing as it hadn't arrived, it had evidently been lost or destroyed in transit. After a little bit of back-and-forth it was agreed the only thing they could do was dispatch another, and told us to watch carefully for deliveries. It must have been left out on the doorstep one day when everyone was busy; August was, for one reason or another, a stressful month for us. Almost by accident, we spotted a box about a foot long and a few inches square tucked under the doormat; that wasn't what we expected. The timing was absolutely awful, coinciding with perhaps the most stressful experience of our lives together to date. Opening this box and seeing a tiny seeding rather than the established bush we were expecting did nothing to improve our demeanour. We gave the poor thing a good soak after its obviously tortured journey in the back of a sticky UPS truck, and planned to put it in good soil and a pot the next morning. It would be some months before it would establish, surely? It turned out, though, the plant has been remarkably robust, and indeed is already well over a foot tall and beginning to bush out. Our initial disappointment hasn't held water; it looks like this will be a wonderful rose to add to our garden and will bloom beautifully next season.
That, though, is not the remarkable part of the story…
The end of September saw a significant anniversary for us; one which we were hoping we could celebrate, at least modestly, for we have several things we need to save for. There have been a few other significant life events to mark in September, and, one day, a package appeared on the table by the front door, seemingly from nowhere. We hadn't ordered anything, but there it was, another box, about a foot long and a few inches square. It seemed that the first rose had finally got to its final destination. Tracking had told us that it had made it to the UPS depot in the town twenty minutes away immediately after its dispatch. We could only guess that for the past two months this poor thing had been lost in a sweltering warehouse, or rolling around, unnoticed, in the back of a van or underneath the driver's seat. The mystery was solved. All that remained for us was to unpack it from the box and give it its last rites. As we opened the box, dry soil, desiccated, began to tumble out of the tiny pot. We caught a glimpse of the stalk, wilted, pathetic.
And one, green, leaf. Somehow, incredibly, it was still alive. We hurriedly ran outside and placed it next to its older sibling, and gave it a drink that it had evidently been waiting for two months to get. Over the past two weeks, the new growth on this plant has been nothing short of miraculous, It's been facing a miniature heatwave, an Indian summer on California's Central Coast, but that's OK. Roses love the heat and the sun, provided they can get enough water (but, they don't like their roots constantly soaked, either). There's no smoke and mirrors involved here; the invoice and the packing materials said, sure enough, that the rose had left the nursery on July 28. We're keeping the invoice as a memento, and the rose is growing from strength to strength. It's something of a miracle, along with the events it commemorates.Related articles