In bloom this week: Heirloom rose

The red heirloom rose is blooming on the porch. Roses that can be traced back to a time before the Civil War are called heirlooms. They’ve been found growing beside old houses and in cemeteries and churchyards, and are propagated by collectors, sometimes called “rose rustlers.” (Yes, I know. Makes me smile, too. I once wrote a short story about a rose rustler. It’s in An Unthymely Deathalong with lots more about antique roses.)

This one came to me from the Antique Rose Emporium many years ago. It never gets any extra water, is regularly nibbled by deer, and thrives in our long summer string of 100-degree days. A fragrant and elegant survivor.


When I was on the Emporium’s website a few days ago, I noticed this intriguing green rose (Rosa chinensis viridiflora) It’s pre-1845. The description: “Perfect for floral arrangements or dried in bouquets, this rose lends its unique texture and contrasting color of green and bronze. Fragrance is spicy with a hint of pepper.” Another site says it may be one of the earliest roses, before petals evolved into the glorious range of colors we see today. If you’re dying for a green rose, maybe this should be on your list. Or you might simply dye a few white roses.  Scroll down to the bottom of this page to see how to do that.

I’m enjoying my roses and the wild flowers, but that’s the extent of my gardening right now. Like many Americans (maybe most?) I’ve been having back troubles. This isn’t anything new–I’ve lived with a chronic bad back since my middle forties. But this spring, it’s gone from chronic to acute, and it’s keeping me from book travel. This is a big change for me (remembering my four- and five-week book tours of earlier years), and always a disappointment to have to say no when libraries and book clubs ask if I’m available to speak.

But for all of us, getting older means living with limitations, doesn’t it? And I’m fortunate indeed to live in a beautiful place, with something new and interesting here at Meadow Knoll every day. Like this spring’s crop of Little Girls, already in their early teens and eager for life. I’m eager for their egg-laying careers to begin, which will happen in the fall. The two Big Girls (from the previous flock) have adapted nicely to the noisy, excitable young ones. There’s always a little irritable discussion at roost time, as they all sort themselves out for the night. But most of the time, peace and harmony reign.

It’s a big week in Pecan Springs, with the release of China’s 27th adventure, A Plain Vanilla MurderAnd a big week here, too, with the launch late in the week of this new WordPress website, where you may be reading this post. (For a while, I’ll be double-posting, both here and at the Typepad site.)

Weather note. It’s hurricane season, and the first Gulf tropical event of the year blew up into Texas from the Bay of Campeche. Houston got socked with flooding rains, we only got a few showers. It’s not supposed to be a very “big” year for hurricanes (there’s a persistent El Nino blowing west to east, which rips up storms before they can grow into hurricanes). But it’s been a big year for floods and tornadoes, and friends up north have had a bad time of it. It pays to be watchful.

Reading note. To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.–Mary Oliver



6 comments on “In bloom this week: Heirloom rose

  1. Thanks, Claudia–I’ll take a look at her website this evening. Always something new to learn!

  2. Sorry to learn about your back pain. I am not in the habit of offering possibly unwanted medical advise. However, it may benefit you to read about safe healing exercise by Miranda Edmond-White. My sciatica is gone. I’ve had it for years. Yes, she has a website, l discovered her on my local PBS station. Greatful that I did. I haven’t met anyone that has not found pain relief after trying these simple workouts. Do like your new website.

  3. I agree, Janet–and will add that the staff there is so helpful. They’re always available to answer a question or make a recommendation.

  4. Love antique roses and the Antique Rose Emporium, I have grown their roses for more than 20 years and have been delighted with making potpourri as well as lovely bouquets and using rose petals that have not been sprayed with any chemicals to cook with and accent salads and cakes. When fall comes this year I plan to harvest the rose hips that develop and make rose tea. The Emporium has mail order available and ships in the spring and fall.

  5. I have some too, Vicki. It’s really lovely, and a reminder of a long-ago summer.

  6. I had an heirloom rose from which I made moist potpourri. I added salt, ground orris root and brandy. It wasn’t pretty as it was a moist potpourri, but it lasted for decades. When the jar was opened the scent of heirloom rose permeated the air.

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