Thursday, May 29, 2008

Heritage roses field trip

Last weekend there was a short article in our local paper about a Heritage Rose garden and rose sale that was scheduled for Memorial Day weekend.
The article said that the garden had been created by a couple who had scouted heritage roses from across the land, finding them growing beside abandoned farm buildings and against house foundations where the house had long since vanished.

This particular rose garden and rose sale was likely to be the last chance for the public to view the garden. The wife had died awaiting a heart/lung transplant. While she waited in the hospital, she had sketched plans to create a rose garden based on the plans created by Gertrude Jeckyll, (a famous name in roses...), plans that Jeckyll herself never saw realized.

There were no pictures with the news article. Just time of the sale, and location, and the belief that this was the only privately owned heritage rose garden open to the public in America.
Once the rose sale was ended, the garden would be leased to a wedding company. After that lease went into effect, I doubted people would be allowed to just wander through in the future. was a very, very hot weekend. Was I really interested in meandering through a garden in high heat and equally oppressive humidity? And what about the time and money aspect: The garden was seventy miles from our house. Going there would shoot up the better part of a day, and a good part of a tank of gas as well.

Monday gave us an opportunity to buy camera chips at a steal at our local electronic center. We decided to stop by the National Veterans Cemetery to pay our respects, then head to the store. That would put us almost half way to the rose garden....

Bernie and Laura gave in to my wishes. The drive south of Houston to the garden took us thorough farm land and tiny towns that we had never heard of.

I was totally unaware of the Town of Needville. I still don't know how it got it's name. I do now know the high school is home to the Fighting Blue Jays.

Somehow that doesn't seem like a very intimidating name for a football team...

After the wife died, her husband did create the garden she had sketched. Their tidy house is still on the grounds. He didn't name the garden after his wife, but rather after the person who inspired the garden originally.

As it turned out, there really wasn't a lot to see. It was still a rather young garden. In time the roses will climb up the poles and cover them like enormous rose hedges.

I loved that each rose was labeled with both it's name and creation date.
Mrs. Isaac Pereire was both lovely and fragrant.

Chestnut Rose...I wondered if those who fought in the War of 1812 had seen this rose and tucked a blossom into their darling's hair before they left for battle.

1927...the year my mom was born. I wonder why Robin Hood was chosen as the name of this oh so pink tiny rose? I would have named it Maid Marion instead....

The heat had curtailed the rose's flower production. There was not another soul around beside us three; it was almost a reverent experience to be walking in the garden dreamed of yet never experienced by the deceased lady. The garden was still so young but she did not get to see it built nor would she ever walk it in when it came into mature glory

The property will be lovely for weddings. A fish pond with water lillies reflected the dreamy blue sky, while the windmill lazily turned with the occasional heat relieving breezes.

Over another larger pond was a cover bridge with a pathway leading to a beautiful white gazebo surrounded by roses as well.

To the side was a chapel with a stained glass door. The room inside held two pews which would hold only two people each. A bride, a groom, a minister, and two sets of parents would be all that the room could possibly hold.

Another rose garden was beyond, an informal garden named The Mary Martha Garden.
The yellow rose above that was found in that garden was named "Mermaid"-much to mermaid collector Laura's delight. The rose was named in 1918...when the world was at war, and many were lost due to the Great Influenza outbreak of that time.

Even in war and pestilance, there was time to create beauty and tend flowers.

I confess: The tipping point for me to want to make the trip to the garden was to see this particular rose. A rose that people have enjoyed for over two hundred years!

The only blossom was sadly withered in the heat, but the bright orange rose hips and vibrant leaves still made the bush a lovely specimen.

(Above: the Mary Martha Garden)

I've been to many lush and elegant gardens and blogged about several of them. While I was walking about I wondered what I could say about this one. Would I encourage people to make the long drive to see it? Was it worth seeing at all?

In the end I wondered if I would have been more impressed if I had seen it on a brisk sunny day when the roses were covered with blossoms and sweat was not running down my brow. I probably would have been.

Still...there was something about seeing a garden built simply for the sake of love, to bring into reality the vision shared by two women, neither who had ever met, neither of whom will ever see the garden themselves, yet they will remained forever honored by those who walk about and see roses that generations that have gone before have treasured.

Like many treasures of life, the garden may not have been glorious, or breathtaking. But somehow it was still fulfilling.

PS: Seriously better pictures of the garden can be seen here on Laura's blog. Her eye and her camera...gee, her pictures just rock.


Miss Janey said...

It's lovely in its own way. The love that was poured into it, the history... and all done privately w/o the help of some foundation.

It will be beautiful for weddings.

Glorious Hats said...

OH Jill, Thanks so very much for sharing your visit to this Heritage rose garden. As always, your perspective, your ability to find the meaningful and positive perspectives provides a peace and serenity to the reader.

Lovella said...

I so enjoy visiting rose gardens. This reminds me of the one we saw together. . . how fun was that? There is something about sharing the beauty of flowers with others. Thank you for the walk about. . .
. . .my buds are swelling nicely. .

Sara said...

You did a good job of highlighting the good things about your visit to the new garden.

The "Mermaid Rose" is stunning; I liked it on first sight. I'm pretty sure I recall reading in one of Frances Mayes' books about restoring Bramasole, her home near Cortona, Italy, that she wanted a Mermaid Rose for her garden there. It seemed such an odd name for a flower, but what simple, gorgeous lines and color it has. Did it have a perfume too?

Julie said...

I know the woman whose dreams planted and created the rose garden would have loved your poignant description of it.

Ladygrande (Texas Marie) said...

I'm so glad that you were able to go see this garden. I really love your "stories" about the places you go, things you see, and people you meet. Your online book continues....