Gardeners are the nicest people!

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.

Green_rose_3 from Wikimedia Commons

This is it – Rosa chinensis var. viridiflora – apparently a result of a phenomenon called phyllody. Per Wikipedia: “Phyllody is the abnormal development of floral parts into leafy structures. It is generally caused by phytoplasma or virus infections, though it may also be because of environmental factors that result in an imbalance in plant hormones. Phyllody causes the affected plant to become partially or entirely sterile, as it is unable to normally produce flowers.” Photo from WikiMedia.

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!

jude_the_obscure_1 from David Austin Roses

This is ‘Jude the Obscure’ – a David Austin marvel with delicious cantaloupe colored cupped flowers. 3-4′ tall and wide, you’d think I’d be able to find a spot for it somewhere – even if I have to plant it in the neighbor’s yard. So very pretty! Photo from the David Austin website.

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?

Rose cuttings - Rosa chinensis var. viridiflora

Here is the first round of cuttings. May the Propagation Gods be kind and grant me the survival of at least one…

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!


About annamadeit

I was born and raised in Sweden, By now, I have lived almost as long in the United States. The path I’ve taken has been long and varied, and has given me a philosophical approach to life. I may joke that I’m a sybarite, but the truth is, I find joy and luxury in life’s simple things as well. My outlook on life has roots in a culture rich in history and tradition, and I care a great deal about environmental stewardship. Aesthetically, while drawn to the visually clean, functional practicality and sustainable solutions that are the hallmarks of modern Scandinavia, I also have a deep appreciation for the raw, the weathered, and the worn - materials that tell a story. To me, contrast, counterpoint, and diversity are what makes life interesting and engaging. Color has always informed everything I do. I’m a functional tetrachromat, and a hopeless plantoholic. I was originally trained as an architect working mostly on interiors, but soon ventured outside - into garden design. It’s that contrast thing again… An interior adrift from its exterior, is like a yin without a yang. My firm conviction that everything is connected gets me in trouble time and time again. The world is a big place, and full of marvelous distractions, and offers plentiful opportunities for inquiry and exploration. I started writing to quell my constant queries, explore my discoveries, and nurture my curiosity. The Creative Flux was started in 2010, and became a catch-all for all kinds of intersecting interests. The start of Flutter & Hum at the end of 2013 marks my descent into plant nerd revelry. I occasionally contribute to other blogs, but those two are my main ones. For sure, topics are all over the map, but then again - so am I! Welcome to my blogs!
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24 Responses to Gardeners are the nicest people!

  1. Good luck this time, Anna

  2. Tina says:

    What a sweet post! I love your phrase: …what is gardening if not an expressive and focused creation of a new future? Indeed, but it’s so hard to leave what you’ve created. They’ll have such a different gardening situation in AZ, but new challenges and new beauty–isn’t that what gardeners love? Good luck with your babies and keep us up on their progress.

    • annamadeit says:

      Yeah, I’m kind of excited for all their new opportunities with plants that have to be coddled in this climate, and I told them that. I’ll keep you posted on any progress of the babies! 🙂

  3. tonytomeo says:

    It is unfortunate that landscapes can’t be packed up and relocated to new homes like old furniture. (That would be difficult with redwoods, the tallest trees in the World.)

    • annamadeit says:

      Hahaha – true that! Although some of us try to at least bring some of our favorites. I know I would.

      • tonytomeo says:

        Actually, before I left a home in town, I grew copies of just about everything in the garden. Sadly, almost all of it was destroyed a few years later.

        • annamadeit says:

          I’d have been devastated… 😦

          • tonytomeo says:

            I am. I was able to get copies of some plants from other source, (where I brought them from before I got there). I was able to return to the old home to get copies of my pelargoniums later. I got one of them when I was in junior high school, and the other in about 1992. I still grow the rhubarb that I got from my great grandfather before I was in kindergarten.

          • annamadeit says:

            Wow on the rhubarb – that’s impressive! And, I’m glad you managed to recuperate at least some of your losses.

          • tonytomeo says:

            It grows like a weed, so it is not all that impressive. When I lost mine, I got a copy of it from someone who got a copy of mine years earlier. My cousin near Portland supposedly grows quite a bit of it for the neighborhood.

          • annamadeit says:

            Sometime those old varieties are the toughest ones, it seems.

          • tonytomeo says:

            I never identified it, but it might actually be ‘Victoria’. I do not think it was anything uncommon. My great grandfather likely obtained it from a local hardware store in Sunnyvale shortly before my time. In that regard, it is likely replaceable. I don’t care though. I still grow copies of the original.

  4. I hope some of your cuttings take, and thought I would share that the Arizona climate (not that a whole state can be generalized) is remarkable good for roses. My sister in law in Phoenix grows several and they’re very happy.

    • annamadeit says:

      Thanks! That’s great to hear, and bodes well for their new garden. They too are settling in Phoenix. If the cuttings take, I will be sure to share. I know you’re a fellow lover of green flowers. 🙂

  5. Sweet! Good luck, Anna! That ‘Jude the Obscure’ is my favorite, I had it at the old house and the fragrance is unreal. If you have successful cuttings, I’ll buy one from you 😉

    • annamadeit says:

      Oh silly girl – I will just give you one. And if Jude survives, you can have him too. I don’t think he would like my shady yard. I should just bring the cuttings to Joy Creek to ensure their survival. Not sure I trust my abilities…

  6. Kris Peterson says:

    Arizona is likely to pose a whole new set of gardening opportunities and challenges – I hope she embraces them. And my fingers are firmly crossed in support of all your cuttings!

    • annamadeit says:

      Thanks, Kris! Just reading that made me remember to give them another spritz before I turn in for the night. I think she and her husband will both take the new challenge to heart. Such sweet people. I wish them many happy adventures down there!

  7. bergstromskan says:

    Good Luck Anna

  8. When my brother moved in Minneapolis he had to remove his native plant garden and install a conventional lawn instead. We had to do something similar once in Wisconsin. Sadly, gardens are temporary things – but creating a new one is always exciting. And yes, the world would be a better place if there were more gardeners – and ‘Jude the Obscure’ is a beautiful rose. I love that apricot color.

    • annamadeit says:

      Gorgeous, isn’t it? How absolutely wrong it sounds to take out a garden to put in a lawn…. And yet, so many people do it. The reasons vary, and the one that puzzles me the most is that they think a lawn requires less care! Bwahahahhahaha!!!!!

  9. Pingback: Wednesday Vignette – expansion | Flutter & Hum

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