Not A Pink Girl

The Rarified Air of May | May 25, 2008

What a beautiful day. I puttered in my garden & got my hands down into the dirt. This always feeds my soul. I don’t do this anywhere near often enough. Why do I deprive myself of this pleasure? I allow myself to be distracted by the mundane: going out to eat, sitting at the computer, grazing. More often than not I seem to allow life to live me.

My roses are so gorgeous. I don’t remember them ever being this beautiful. We’ve gotten rain almost every day of May this year. On top of that, the days have been breezy & sunny (not too warm). My two rosebushes love that.

I am not a rosarian. I consider myself a novice gardener. (Check with me when I’m 85; by then I may have progressed to beginner.) I don’t use any chemicals on my roses. I let nature’s food chain take care of things. A few years ago the aphids were heavy on the buds. I went to the local nursery & bought a plastic container of ladybugs (you know, like the containers that cole slaw comes in at the supermarket, except with holes punched in it). I opened the container at sunset & placed it on the ground under my rosebush. They munched away at the aphids & voila, problem solved.

This year I notice I have all these baby ladybugs on the rosebush leaves. (I suspect they’re called larvae or something but I’m not a bug expert either.) I can tell you this: baby ladybugs look almost completely unlike ladybugs. But I think they’re cute because I know they’ll help my roses be happy & healthy.

I have two rosebushes. Both are antique roses. One is called Zephirine Drouhin & it’s a Bourbon rose from 1868. It has the loveliest dark-pink flowers that smell heavenly. (Did you notice how roses you get for Valentine’s Day [although I haven’t gotten roses for Valentine’s Day since 1991] never have a smell? That is a calamity! I love the fat classic blooms but… no smell? How sad.) The blooms last about 4 days; as the flower matures it turns a lighter pink until the petals start to fall.

My other rosebush is called Hansa. It’s a rugosa rose. I think rugosa means wrinkled in Japanese or something. (The leaves do look different than regular rosebush leaves.) This rose is from 1905. I got this rose in Texas. (I wanted to hate Texas. I am a DC native & a lifelong Redskins fan, so I hate the Dallas Cowboys, & therefore thought I would hate Dallas, & therefore Texas. I also despise George Bush [junior more than senior but…]. When I visited Texas for the first time, I loved it. The men in Dallas were utter gentlemen to me [although they were completely in shock that I was traveling with my children & “no man & no gun”]; Houston was wonderful too; & I adored Amarillo [yes, there was a Texas Tornado there when I was visiting & I was camping in a tent so it was an event]).

My Hansa rose has deep magenta-purplish-pink deeply-ruffled blooms & smells wonderful & strong but different than my ZD rose scent. What an embarrassment of riches I have in my tiny backyard just because I have these two gorgeous rosebushes.

This evening, just before sunset, I deadheaded my roses. I weeded a bit & planted sweet pea seeds (Captain of the Blues & High Scent). I checked my compost heap for my friend (a black rat snake); he was not in evidence. Then I headed back upstairs to the deck to pot out some plants.

I’ll tell you all about my new container garden tomorrow! The evening air smelled so nice. It had the smell the spring air gets before it gets too hot outside. It was sweet & pleasant. I could tell the birds liked it too; I heard a catbird (don’t hear them too much around here) in the woods; also a robin or two; a mourning dove (I like them but in small doses because they remind me of when I was 12 & had to get up to deliver newspapers at zero-dark-thirty on Saturday & Sunday mornings), &, of course, the Twilight Bark.


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