Tuesday, April 24, 2007


The Notable and Special Roses of Bellemaison. Some are notable in and of themselves, most are special because of someone else. We will do that you know. Plant roses in honor of someone. The Chows and I grow 'Gruss an Aachen' for Julie; she LOVES this rose. 'Golden Showers' for that wild man in Pasadena. He loves that rose. 'Dolly Parton' for Tisa. 'Sunsprite' for Hope. 'Altissimo' for Julia. 'Bow Bells' for Jane. "Sombrueil" for Vonny. I also planted one for Ken, who is gone now, having left too early. 'Joseph's Coat' for Gerry. 'Angel Face' for YouKnowWho and 'Happy Child' for, well, guess.

Once I got a note from Malcolm, in Florida, asking if I wanted a cutting from his grandmother's white rose. He moved it from Pennsylvania down to the Orlando area and after a time, decided that the rose really wasn't too happy. So he made a series of cuttings for his friends and then shoveled pruned Grandma's rose. I was thrilled to get a piece of her rose here in Bellemaison and it's done well. And it's white. Other than that, Malcolm can't tell me much about it and he has a PhD in horticulture. And so these things go. We share these sensual embodiments of friendship and fulfillment with each other and year after year, try to remember them in winter and dutifully stalk them in summer, on recon for aphids and mildew. How is it we get so attached? Why do they mean so much?

The Romans were smitten with roses, to the point that their infatuation became idolatry. Julius Caesar popularized wearing rose chaplets in public to camouflage his premature baldness. Nero spent 6,000,000 sesterces on roses for a dinner party--a sum that would pay one full Roman legion for an entire year. Heliogabalus created to the rose petal drop, causing rose petals to flutter over the dining room as his guests feasted. The Romans grew 'Campania', described by Pliny as the most famous; 'Milesian', a vibrant red named for a Greek town on the Aegean; and 'Praeneste', a longer blooming variety that gave them roses well past the season. Their cultural dispositions toward roses are still held today, with some roses, 'Peace', selling widely still after being introduced 70 years ago. It's said that 'Peace' is the most famous rose of our time. Today, the hybridizers give the roses names for people and places--John Paul II just got his rose, a white, highly-acclaimed recent release of Jackson Perkins. I grow 'Barbara Bush', a tall, sturdy, forgiving pink hybrid tea. And of course, with global distributions networks what they are in 2007, I can have lovely, inexpensive roses of any variety in a vase in my kitchen twelve months of the year. Read that: South America.


The French do things today with roses that I do not see anywhere. They acknowledge the rose as a component of the good life, the life to be lived. And to see a red rose in bloom on a July day in Paris is a sensual experience practically unparallelled. Is it the light? Is it the red? The Chows and I grow the same rose here in Bellemaison, but it's not the same. Just isn't. The Empress Josephine made it her life's work, turning her avocation into a vocation, to grow and catalogue all existing species of roses in perhaps the most famous rose garden of all time, Malmaison. She scoured the world for new and unacquired species and as she had certain connections, ships laden with roses from far and wide enjoyed diplomatic immunity on the high seas, giving them safe passage back Josephine as her husband, Emperor Napoleon waged war. Ships and navys came and went but Josephine's roses remained untouched to thrive and flourish at Malmaison. She engaged Redoute to make drawings of each species and variety, such drawings now having become art treasures. Josephine and Redoute made one of history's all time most notable gardens, with immaculate illustrations and botanical records that exist to this day, but she still died young when she caught a cold at a party. And so this is life, then as now.

I grow 'Miss All American Beauty' for my mother. I grow the White Rose of York and The Red Rose of Lancashire. Yes, the same icons of Tudor England. I have 'Quatre Saison' which grew in Pompeii. I have 'Coeur d'Alene', a hot pink, crinkly leaved, tissue paper rose named for my beloved hometown. I have one whole bed planted in purple roses, for the National Champions Portland Pilots Women's Soccer Team. The two lions that stand guard at the garden gate are Bill and Clive, the coaches of the team. Clive is gone now, too; early; from cancer. But his roses remain and this year, they will bloom again in fragrant reminder of how dear and how unique each season of life is. And what grace we get with notable and special people and experiences in our life. So I think of you today.

And when the fall comes and we prune each rose back, strip it and shroud it with dirt and pine needles, the Chows and I will huddle up together and wait for the winter snows as the wind howls around us. But we'll remember.

We'll remember.

JBelle
Bellemaison
The 'Kan EWA

20 comments:

MarmiteToasty said...

JBelle, your posts make me breathe in huge intakes of air....... god I love you.......xxxxxx

JBelle said...

I love you back. Hard.

The Fool said...

What a beautiful way to connect with a garden. The personal connections and historical connections with the varieties of roses make this posting a delight, and your garden unique. Awesome, JBelle.

ciara said...

i'm just glad let me in on getting to know u wonderful ppl...i am learning so much from you all. the roses are beautiful..i,too, like the historical and personal connection. thx for letting me share in the wonder.

Carla said...

I love the idea of planting something in remembrance of someone. My grandparents used to plant roses in memory...they had many. Your pics make me think of their beautiful garden. I planted a tree in memory of my grandmother, but I think this year I will plant roses as well. Thanks for the inspiration.

Julie said...

JBelle, thankyou so much for remembering me! I have roses planted for those I love as well. I have a number of roses I grow and others have been given to me from friends and those who've passed on. This was a wonderful post. {{{hugs}}}

JBelle said...

Julie, there is not a time when I walk in my garden that I don't think of you, one of the most accomplished gardeners I have ever known. You have the whole package, too; what pictures you can take! I think I dream trip would be the gardens of the UK with Julie. We might even take Malcolm with us....

JBelle said...

Carla, I repeat: I would love to work in your garden, in Canadian soil. There is some fundamental spiritual connection I have with Canada that I would like to know more about. And just for the record: the first time I remember being in Canada, it was trip to Nelson. You get some roses and I'll come help you plant them.

ciara, It's always really nice to meet new people. Thank you for stopping by and joining in. My oldest and dearest friends read this blog but don't comment. Thanks for piping up!

Lord F: With the daylight you have in Fairbanks, I bet we could collaborate on a fearsome garden For Fools. We could plan it anyhow. It'd have to be one that self waters, self fertilizes, self weeds and self dead heads as the wheels on your bike spin ever more quickly down the highways and byways. hmmmmm.

Winters said...

A gorgeous post, Jbelle. And I was fascinated to read about the Romans and their roses.

Merci

Julie said...

Jbelle, maybe a dream vacation to the UK is in the cards??? Maybe we can even take Malcolm with us. We'll have to think about this further.

E. H. said...

e.h. is for mcmanus, not thompson.

mamaJD said...

I just love your posts and especially the pictures. I drop in from time to time but this time thought I would say hello!

JBelle said...

eeek.

I've had a terrible virus and am only getting here just now.
X@#$%X&***XXX !

e.h.:I know where it's from. :) Just wondered if you knew another h ....

mamajd: hi! It's great to see you! I am your undying fan--your analytical is second to none. But it's your dayjob that I am always so happy to read about: the most important work in the universe, those two.

E. H. said...

nope dont know another h, but i will buy a vowel. touch bases with the chows, again, on their agent status will ya? sounded to me like they were just holding their cards close to their vests. we are talking the big time, not just the post office, but...well i don't want to drop any names, like purina.

the psycho therapist said...

Good evening, Schmeebsie. I am not a gardener so I cannot fully appreciate the breadth of your wisdom but I know beauty when I's sees it, yes indeed.
;)


Hope you're feeling better, sooner.

Perhaps I can name a rose in your honor. Hmmm...


--

Carla said...

JBelle, you are invited anytime. The weather is just now nice enough that I'll be getting to my garden. There is something very therapeutic about digging in the dirt.

The Fool said...

Happy Easter, JBelle.

:)

InlandEmpireGirl said...

Thanks for all the information on the roses. I still have a few that may not make it. Maybe I don't use enought dirt and pine needles in the fall! I am eager to see more pictures as your garden grows.

JBelle said...

aw geez. The programmer was able to restore my computer without installing a new operating system after the virus and the worm had me dead in the water. But I guess, in the process, he disabled my picture scan program? dunno. Have another call into him.

I took pictures of the garden yesterday, went home at noon, and had my heart set, MY HEART SET, on posting them. To no avail. So hang in there with me. Seems that every thing in my life is a work in progress at the moment.

Voice of Experience: now things are beginning to line up. I'm getting it. The Chows' American Express bill has been much higher lately and I noticed there's been a bump in their Exxon buys. Don Hamilton Commerical Photography is clean across town. The plot thickens. Or unravels. Those darn Chows. If you see a 1962 Chevrolet pickup, restored to mint, careening around corners, will you call me? It's Sylvie, with Cle riding shotgun. I have told them and told them: they should be napping in the afternoon!

Dear Winters: say what you want about the Romans, but they are and were the 'civil' in civilization. I will be stopping by later in the day because now I can HEAR your wizened remarks as this dreadful virus has been exorcised from my keyboard and its domain.

Jules: I'm down for anywhere with Malcolm and you. But you know that. Let's go when the roses are blooming at St. Alban's and Malcolm can get us in to both Peter Beales and at Harken's.

Your Holiness: The Second of May shipment somehow got out the door without a card attached. groan. sigh. fist swat. Hope you could tell by all the fragile!s that You, YOU, are loved and cherished.

Lord Foolish: (big smile here) And you as well. Happy Easter. Thanks for remind me that Alleluia is my song and my privilege. I've been singing a different one lately and it was time for the playchoice to be changed. Not so foolish after all, eh?

IEGirl: I owe you a note. I started once actually but it strikes me that we should just go together and I can show you the ropes and the traps. :) Is there a better buy than a nursery run?

toadman said...

I am jealous of your roses. Simple as that.