February 28, 2014

"The great use of life...

... is to spend it on something that will outlast it."

~William James, landscape architect

Few gardens last, for all that.  One garden I admired so, was on Jones Road in Walnut Creek, California, now lies under the tracks of Bay Area Rapid Transit.

It was a wonderful place, with about 1,000 old roses.

There were albas, 



and damasks

There were teas, 


China roses, 


old hybrid teas, 


and those talismans of the old roase garden, 'Marechal Niel', 'Gloire de Dijon', and on pillars, the ramblers 'Veilchenblau', and 'Violette'.  At the entrance to the place was a tall hedge, dappled with the red carnation-like flowers of 'F.J. Grootendorst'.

Of course the owners were rose snobs, and I found them engaging for this reason.  I always thought there should have been a sign at the garden entrance: There is no Peace in this garden.

They disliked the new hybrid tea 'Peace', a rose that rose lovers got down to on their knees.  The irony was that 'Peace', with its heavy blunt bud, many petals, and short stout stem, resembled the old hybrid perpetuals they were so found of.

And what rose snobs they were.  They could never stand 'Chrysler Imperial'.  Imagine naming a rose after a motor car!  I once suggested that they might include in their collection of striped roses 'Careless Love'.  They were appalled.  It sounded like something that might have occurred in a Chrysler Imperial automobile.

I loved getting calls from them when this or that old rose came in bloom.  The always rang me faithfully when the once-blooming 'Mme Gregoire Staechlin' was out.  Often compared to the thinnest of porcelain tea cups, delicate pink splashed crimson, their climbing specimen splayed on a fence was a wonderful sight to see. They called it Madame Gre-whar Steak-e-lin, giving me each spring breathless messages over the phone, "Doris, better hurry, Steak-e-lin's in bloom."

When I take the train to Concord, after leaving Walnut Creek station, I press my face to the window, wondering if I can catch some small bit of rose green down by the gravel track.

1 comment:

Syl v O said...

Oh yes, the Hudnuts place. Shame its gone. Thanks for remembering.