Sunday, October 13, 2013


A couple of weeks ago, I thought I picked my last roses for the year. It felt like we'd suddenly gone from summer to winter, skipping over fall completely, with the chilly pouring rain and cold nights. Part of me wanted to leave the last few blooms in the yard, uncut, to kid myself into thinking that the lovely heady scent they perfume my yard with wouldn't be gone just yet. My selfish side wanted to put them in a vase and have them inside with me to ward off the winter.  My selfish side won out.  

If there's one thing I'm selfish about in the garden it's my roses. Not selfish in the sense that I won't share them with anyone, just in the sense that I 'm the one who takes care of them, talks to them, adores them. I soak up their essence every day I can.

My rugosas and my very old English rose bush start blooming in late March or April and they bloom all summer long producing the most wonderful spicy, musky rose blooms. Their fragrance is what wakes my up in the spring after our cold, soggy winters. After I'm certain I just can't handle one more day of that wet chill. Picture yourself walking outside into the garden in the morning with a light rain or leftover dew settled on the plants, when the roses begin blooming, and oh the musky rose scent, it's intoxicating. It can stop me in my tracks. It's my antidepressant.

And I don't have to do much to these rose bushes; I fertilize them and deadhead them and prune a bit, but even when I completely neglect them, they grow and flower and make me happy.  Their scent surrounds my garden and  breathes life into my senses all summer long.  And so much of what gardening is for me is about scent.

I also have one Joseph's Coat Rose, which isn't the healthiest rose in my yard, but is hands down my favorite looking bloom. It begins as almost a dark reddish orange...

and as it opens up becomes more orangey-peachy-pink with hints of yellow.  

It's scent changes too from spicy to passion-fruity.

My dear friend, Ingrid gave me two roses to plant for my birthday this past February, a Touch of Class...

with a lovely spicy balsam scent, 

and a White Licorice Floribunda which smelled sweet and sugary, like vanilla.

I love the scent of roses in my garden, so unlike most store-bought roses, but this year I was surprised when the kids started to enjoy them too, how different each one smells, the way the bushes change and grow, how fast black spot can spread through a plant. Plus, all the rose bushes attract ladybugs, snails and weird looking aphids, and their thorns are amazing!  

One of my favorite things about the garden this year was watching Lily and Jasper decide how perfectly lovely it is to cut a few roses every day, put them in a vase, and set them at the dinner table to enjoy while we're drawing or eating family dinner.  

Our family dinners can be absolute disasters sometimes trying to get Jasper to eat what we make, but the ritual of sitting down together is one I hope he will grow to love, and I like to think this summer helped a little bit as he always looked forward to putting a vase of roses at each meal.