Today I want to tell you about two mentors who had so much to do with teaching me and inspiring me in the world of roses although I never met them.
This week as the temps plummeted into the minus category and Spring seemed so far off, I found myself in my Potting Shed/Garden Office going through old things — mostly articles I saved.
I don’t keep everything, in fact, sometimes I am accused of casting out too many things, but I am absolutely thrilled that the things I am going tell you about today, I still have. I know so much is being said and done as people are inspired by Marie Kondo to “tidy up.” I want to encourage you to save some things. In full disclosure — when it comes to the garden, let’s just say things get a bit “crowded” and I might have toooo many things. Is there such a thing as too many plants?
Back to my story….
In the late 80s and early 90s, I was a creative garden-loving, rose-loving young mother of the sweetest two kids on the planet and I loved them dearly. But, occasionally I had to get out and do my thing. And, since I had the most supportive husband on the planet, Mr. G took care of things and kiddies so I could spend an entire day learning more about gardening and in particular, roses. I spent many of those days in a book store drinking coffee and doing research. (Remember when there were Barnes and Nobles everywhere!?!?) Some of those times away I went to a pretty hotel and spent all day and night researching, making lists and drawing up plans.
All of this of course without the benefit of the internet. How did I do it!
I was armed with books, magazines, garden catalogs and a newsletter that I subscribed to … Bev Dobson’s Rose Letter. Bev taught me much about the different types of roses and rose care, she reviewed books about roses, rose hybridization and from Bev I first learned of rose viruses and an indexing program that Jackson & Perkins had started. OF HUGE NOTE, now that I am looking back, I see that she told me in 1992 that the prestigious Jane Righter Rose Medal was awarded to Stephen C. Scanniello and his team of volunteers for their work at the Cranford Memorial Rose Garden. I never ever thought then that I would one day call Stephen a friend. I can tell you with certainty that Stephen deserved that award and deserves an award every year for all of his contributions to the world of roses.
Those newsletters were a treasure trove of information and included names that now pop into my world on a regular basis.
Thank you Bev for making me a better and more informed rose gardener.
Mentoring from Far, Far Away….
One of my “research projects” was David Austin Roses. Believe it or not, information was so hard to come by. I first saw these roses in a Wayside Garden Catalog and it was love at first sight. At that time I was growing both modern roses and old garden roses and thought that perfection would lie in putting them together… and thought that will never happen. I knew nothing of hybridization. Then I read interviews in a couple of magazines that showcased Mr. Austin’s work of doing just that and I was smitten from that day forward. Of course, he was a quiet Englishman, who loved roses, was weaving together the old and the new roses and wore a tweed jacket. Who wouldn’t be!?! 😉 … A not so secret crush as Mr. G would point out from time to time.
One of those magazines was VICTORIA who published an article that I kept in my “special box’ … A Shropshire Nurseryman Refashions THE ROSES OF YESTERYEAR by Thomas Christopher (who wrote In Search of Lost Roses). The article deals with the fact that at that time growing roses in the US was still an adventure with our diverse growing climates. Mr. Christopher ended his article with a quote from Mr.Austin in regard to his roses defying the conventions of roses at that time on whether or not English roses were too diverse to be classed as a single group. Roses shouldn’t conform — roses should be an adventure.” And to that Mr. Christopher said, His roses certainly are.
I’m grateful his roses were accepted as one big beautiful class – The English Rose.
I loved reading about Mr. Austin, the process of bringing these roses to light and having his roses in my garden. I still enjoy his story. A quiet man with an incredible vision. His story and his work entertained me and encouraged me while bringing so much pleasure to my garden experience. I had always dreamed I would meet him one day. I have met Michael Marriott, (technical manager and senior rosarian of David Austin Roses), and have the pleasure of calling him friend, that is rose dream worthy too.
This year I will be even more excited to welcome back after the winter thaw the amazing climbing rose ‘The Generous Gardener’ along with my other Austins. If I could recommend only one David Austin to you, it would be ‘The Generous Gardener.’ She is amazing … so amazing I ordered another one to come in April!
Thank you David Austin for mentoring me from a land far away. I would not be the gardener I am today without you.
I just love this picture in Victoria Magazine from around the year 2000 of David Austin with his son.
Shhhhh. Just between us good friends, (Don’t tell Marie K) but I have Victoria magazines that date back to 1988. Stacks of them. Maybe you shouldn’t tell my children either.
NOTE TO SELF and an encouragement to you… anytime we get the opportunity to mentor … to teach … to share with someone else our passion, TAKE IT!
The front left rose is THE GENEROUS GARDENER… her neighbors are Quietness and Music Box.
Thank you so much for joining me on this trip down memory lane. I’d love to hear your stories too if you’d like to share them!