From Devastation to Inspiration: Peggy Martin

Today I find myself in the middle of the most perfect weather any August in Indiana has ever had to offer. I am gardening and thinking about my morning. This morning I had the pleasure of interviewing Peggy Martin on Rose Chat Radio and what a delight she was.

Peggy’s family went through the devastation of Hurricane Katrina where she lost her parents, her home, her husband’s commercial fishing boat and her 35-year-old garden filled with many hard-to-find plants and a rose collection that included 450 roses. Many of the roses were rare and unique varieties. Peggy had been very involved in the New Orleans Old Garden Rose Society and worked tirelessly as a volunteer in many garden restoration projects.

Peggy Martin
Peggy Martin

As we talked I could tell that the pain of losing her parents is something she is still going through. I lost my Dad this year … losing a parent is a special kind of loss.

Most of my time with Peggy was spent talking about her garden experiences before and after Katrina.

Can you imagine what it was like for her to go back to the site of her home to see everything devastated. Gone. The entire area had been under salt water for more than 2 weeks. Salt water and plants just do not mix and at first look every living plant seemed to be dead. At closer inspection, two roses were found that had not only survived, one was to beginning to thrive—The Peggy Martin Rose…

This is a picture of the Peggy Martin Rose that now grows in Peggy Martin's new rose garden....
This is a picture of the Peggy Martin Rose that now grows in her new rose garden….

Hardy in Zones 4 – 9, this rose is a vigorous, almost thornless climber that often reaches 15’ high and 6 ‘ wide.

Rose experts from around the world have been brought in to help identify this rose, but no one has any clue as to the actual name or origin. I think that is probably as it should be. Perhaps this rose is now fulfilling it’s purpose in reminding us to never give up even when all seems to be lost.

“This rose has become a symbol among gardeners and rose lovers of a tenacious plant associated with a spirit of renewal and regrowth in the aftermath of a devastating blow of Nature against those living and gardening in the Gulf Coast area.” –William Welch (Prof Texas A & M)

Friends Made the Difference

“I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.” -Helen Keller

During the very dark days and months after Katrina the last thing on Peggy’s mind was creating a new garden and that’s where her friends came in. One of the ways they helped her heal was through rebuilding her garden. One by one they began to bring roses back into Peggy’s life. Peggy’s lovely new garden is now filled with 240 roses and rose companions of every kind. She is currently involved in many rose organizations, like the Heritage Rose Foundation and she is the Chairman for the Old Garden Rose and Shrub Committee of the American Rose Society.

Below are pictures of Peggy’s current garden…

Peggy Martin Story (Dallas) 001-1
Peggy Martin Story (Dallas) 029-1Peggy Martin Story (Dallas) 002Peggy Martin Story (Dallas) 007-1Beautiful and charming just like Peggy herself.


It’s All About the Soil

In talking with Peggy I learned that she has been a completely organic gardener for 40 years. She is all about healthy soil and integrated plant and pest management — a system she calls “the easiest way to garden.” During the interview, she gave many tips for creating a healthy garden whether you are new to gardening or someone who wants to take your garden to the next level. She also gave us her advice on rose selection.

The Podcast

During our time together we talked about so much more–like her complete step-by-step guide for taking rose cuttings.

Don’t miss hearing this incredible story from Peggy herself … simply click here for the Rosechat podcast.

A Rose A Day: Peggy Martin

Peggy Martin RoseThis year I planted the Peggy Martin rose after hearing the amazing story behind the rose. Many of the  historical roses I love are true survivors, but no rose has a more amazing story than the Peggy Martin Rose.

This rose was one of only two plants surviving 20 feet of salt water over the garden of Mrs. Peggy Martin, Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, after the destruction of Hurricane Katrina in late August, 2005. Peggy lost her home, her parents, her rose garden of more than 450 antique roses she had collected for 30 years, as well as their commercial fishing boat to the storm!

Peggy Martin
Peggy Martin

MEET PEGGY MARTIN…

Peggy Martin has a new rose garden of more 300 roses and has been a no-spray organic gardener for 40 years!

I will have the pleasure of chatting with Peggy Martin about her experiences on August 3 when she joins us for Rose Chat Radio. You can join us too — more information about that here.

Below is a Peggy Martin Rose that is growing in Peggy’s “new” garden…

This is a picture of the Peggy Martin Rose that now grows in Peggy Martin's new rose garden....
The Peggy Martin Rose that now grows in Peggy Martin’s new rose garden….

Chamblee’s Rose Nursery acquired cuttings from the original rose in New Orleans in January, 2007.  I bought mine from them this spring. They sent a very healthy little plant that has grown to be about 2.5′ high. For info on ordering this rose, read on.

This rose is obviously extremely hardy as well as a vigorous climber. The fact that it is virtually thornless makes it even more desirable for walkways or around children’s play areas! As far as blooms are concerned, the pictures tell the story of what this rose does in early summer! And I’m told this rose often comes back with another bloom cycle in late summer/early fall.

My Peggy Martin rose will be roommates with Francis E Lester on the wonderful new rose arbor Mr G built. (Read more about that here.) I think they will be very happy together! But, just may compete for space! 🙂

IMG_3004
Neighbors…. on their way to great things!
IMG_3007
What a beautiful place to “grow up”! Thanks Mr G!
IMG_3005
You’ll see a BIG difference in me next year!

Hard to believe that June is coming to a close. I have enjoyed spending National Rose Month with you and sharing some of my favorite roses. Thank you for going on this journey with me.

What’s Next?

So far I have not seen my first Japanese Beetle but I know they are on their way, so I will be out there protecting my roses! There may not be many rose blooms to see for the next few weeks, BUT that just gives my perennials an opportunity to take center stage–stay tuned–I love to share about them too!

Here’s one of the perennials making a great show right now as a companion to my Poseidon RosesYarrow!

Poseidon and her companion -- Yarrow...
Poseidon and her companion — Yarrow…