Thursday, July 18, 2013

Rose Garden Travelogue

Rose Garden Travelogue

When we think of traditional rose gardens we think of these elaborate layouts and designs of the most famous rose gardens around the world.  Rose gardens are often built that way to showcase the exquisite flowers and to offer visitors a true sensory experience by way of sight and smell.  Grassy paths take you around curving rows of roses bordered by clipped boxwood hedges; climbing roses cover expansive arched walkways; tree roses stand like soldiers at a sentry post neat and orderly. 

Summer, of course, is the best time to visit the acres dedicated to our nation’s most beloved flower; and if you have the means, international rose gardens offer an even greater splendor of travel.  If you can only venture a short distance from your home base, you’ll likely find that there is a rose garden within reach of your destination. 

Gene Strowd Community Rose Garden
I have met many rose enthusiasts over the years while working for Witherspoon.  Some have traveled far and wide to visit rose gardens.  It’s a passion I don’t think I’ll quite grasp as roses are not necessarily my favorite, but I have come to have an enthusiastic respect for this treasured flower.  From a horticultural standpoint it’s really quite an amazing shrub which continuously blooms its heart out from the beginning of the growing season to the end.  Most other ornamental shrubs will offer a period of bloom either early, mid or late in the growing season.  How the rose manages to keep up with itself is a great mystery.  There are a handful of roses that have their specific special time to put on their show, but overall most modern roses will reliably give the display over and over again. 

Close to home in the Piedmont of North Carolina you’ll discover an impressive variety of public rose gardens.  We’ll start with our very own rose garden on the grounds at Witherspoon in Durham where you’ll find a restful sitting area in the gazebo overlooking the entire rose garden.  The rose garden has approximately 2000 bushes of varying type from the miniature to the tree rose to the climbing rose.  Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the smells and sights of a rainbow of color in our rose garden. 

Gene Strowd Community Garden
Down the road, in either direction north or south, and you’ll find the Strowd Rose Garden in Chapel Hill or the Sarah P. Duke Gardens on Duke University’s campus in Durham.  Strowd’s garden is all roses; Gene Strowd was an impassioned rose gardener and a beloved community resident.  Within the Sarah P.Duke Gardens you’ll find not only roses, but a grand botanical garden filled with many ornamental plants delighting every season of the year.

The Raleigh area is not without its own places to visit to see roses.  The first that comes to mind is the quietly hidden rose garden at the Raleigh Little Theatre.  Nestled in a small valley surrounded by towering trees, this is one of Raleigh’s best kept secrets.  Also, in Raleigh, is the JC RaulstonArboretum where you can see another superb botanical garden of ornamental plants, including roses, of course. 

Gene Strowd Community Garden
As you travel further outside the Triangle area you can visit the Rose Garden in Wilson, Tanglewood Park in Clemmons, and the McGillRose Garden in Charlotte.  For rose enthusiasts in North Carolina this is quite a list of places to visit. 

I’ve heard, though not experienced, that the International Rose Test Garden in Portland is an exceptional sight.  This garden serves not only public enjoyment, but also serves as (hence its name) an international test site for new roses for commerce.  The Portland area as a whole is abundant with places to visit to see all kinds of ornamental plants. 

J.C. Raulston Arboretum
The home of the American Rose Society in Louisiana is where you’ll see The Gardens of the American Rose Center.  The 118 acre garden area highlights over 65 distinct rose gardens and 20,000 rose bushes. 

Thinking about these elaborate places might prompt you for a mini vacation with only the rose in mind.  For the most ardent rose enthusiasts this is no big deal because they’re so enchanted by the rose.  For those not so passionate, but still admirers, you may have yourself a journey of a lifetime discovering new places to enjoy roses and rose gardens.  

J.C. Raulston Arboretum


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Story Behind the "Rose of the Century."

 Rose Spotlight on Peace

WWI left a trail of destruction that stretched across European soil.  Great losses in manpower and resources sent all countries involved into a devastating landslide.  With millions dead and others in a state of depression, hope and beauty were precious commodities.  It was during these tumultuous times that Francis Meilland was born.  Following in his father’s footsteps, Francis found hope and beauty in his rose garden.  During the years leading up to the start of WWII, Francis and his father Antoine chose fifty promising seedlings to watch as potential candidates for cultivation.  One of these seedlings, 3-35-40, would survive being smuggled out of occupied France and eventually be given the title “The Rose of the Century.”  This is the story of Peace.

Lemony petals kissed with sweet pink edges caught the eye of Meilland as he scanned the bed of seedlings he was watching.  There, that one, that’s the rose I want to cultivate.  There’s my Madame Antione Meilland.  The year was 1939 and WWII was on the brink of escalation.  After Hitler’s invasion of Poland, it became very apparent that France was soon to follow.  Francis was close to launching this precious rose as Madame Antione Meilland, but he became concerned about the future of his rose nursery after the invasion of France and began to make plans to smuggle out his precious Madame.  He was able to smuggle three pieces of budwood out to three different cultivators in Germany, Italy, and finally Robert Pyle in the U.S.  As WWII tore through Europe and left communication lines severed, Meilland was unaware of how the smuggled roses were doing in their new environments.  These rose refugees were not only surviving, they were flourishing!  It was eventually launched in all four countries under different names.  In France Meilland launched the rose under the original name, Germany called it Gloria Dei (Latin for ‘Glory of God’), in Italy it was named Giola meaning joy, and in the U.S it was called Peace.  After the liberation of France, Meilland wrote to Field Marshal Alan Brooke, who was integral in the strategy behind liberating France, and asked if he would give his name to the rose.  Brooke declined since he felt that the more fitting name for the rose was Peace.  Peace was announced as the official name on April 29th, 1945, the day Berlin fell.  In the midst of war and destruction, Peace started as a seedling and grew in strength and beauty until it could no longer be hidden from the world.  

In 1945, at the inaugural meeting of the United Nations, the Peace rose was given to each of the delegations.  Attached was a note that read, “We hope the ‘peace’ rose will influence men’s thoughts for everlasting world peace.”  Across the decades this rose has remained a symbol of hope and peace in a world that is often in a state of disarray.  How was Francis to know that this seedling, a tiny sprig of life, would inspire such grand emotions?  He even wrote in his diary, “How strange to think that all these millions of rose bushes sprang from one tiny seed no bigger that the head of a pin, a seed which we might so easily have overlooked or neglected in a moment of inattention.”  

With a story so rich in history and emotion, it is no wonder that Peace will always have a place in rose gardens across the world.  Standing out above the thorns, the yellow and pink bloom inspires peace and serenity.