Two days ago, I got an email from Colette – a woman whom I helped, when she and her husband had decided to take out the lawn in their suburban front yard, a few years ago. They had now retired, had sold the house, and were moving south to Arizona for good. When I first helped them with the front yard, she presented me with a cutting of this crazy cool green rose, the like of which I had never seen before. I stuck it as well as I knew how, watered, and waited. It seemed to do well for a while, but then – to my great dismay – died, before it had time to develop roots. I was so bummed.
At some point, I must have told her my propagation efforts failed, because in this email, she offered for me to come and get more cuttings so I could try again. I can’t believe she remembered – how nice is THAT??? I was thrilled, of course! She had already dug it up – her favorite oddball rose – and washed all the soil off the roots, so she could bring it along with her to her new home. Apparently transporting plants across the AZ border comes with a number of restrictions, and she was taking no chances. She had already cut it back. The discards were in a bucket of water, and I gratefully grabbed a few branches. Colette also generously gave me an already rooted cutting of ‘Jude the Obscure’ – her other favorite. She told me she has grown Jude in every house she had ever lived. I had to look that one up, and it is beautiful. Even more important, she said it’s exceptionally fragrant!
We walked through her backyard, and talked about the pain of leaving a garden behind. Who knows what will happen to it? Will the new owners love it as much as they did? Or, will they do the unthinkable, and tear it all out? We agreed it’s probably wise to resist looking back. As so many of us have agonizingly discovered, once we’re gone, we have zero control. Besides, what is gardening if not an expressive and focused creation of a new future? Your energy is probably better spent looking forward than grieving over something you can’t control. When I think of Arizona, mostly desert plants come to mind, but I don’t know that climate very well. I really hope her green rose will not just survive, but thrive in its new home, as a souvenir of their many years in Portland. I imagine she might be successful if she protects it by planting it out of the worst of the afternoon heat.
When I got home, I stuck about a dozen cuttings in perlite, and then I ran out of daylight. There are additional good candidates on the branches I took, so I will try to do a few more tomorrow. And then the wait begins, as does the true test of my ability to remember to properly tend to the babies. I am so thankful she reached out, and I can’t wait to see if any of them take. Fingers crossed for both survival of the mother plant, and for my little cuttings, would you please?
Before I left, I snapped a few photos of the front yard. Much of it is the way I had suggested, but as any real gardener would, Colette has added her own touch. She credited me with getting her hooked on Hebes. Haha – had totally forgotten about that, but evidently I did. There were some in the original plan, but there are several more now. Can’t blame her – I love them too. They are such great plants, and we’re so lucky to be able to grow them here in the Pacific NW.
This is what they will leave behind. I wish Colette and Clark all the best, and many wonderful years ahead, as they embark on their next adventure!