As an unusually warm February day invited me to take off my jacket to embrace the glow of the sun, I found myself inspecting my wintered roses. Despite being in the hardiness zone 6b and it still being technically winter, my roses were bursting with eye buds as well as signs of eager growth. Generally speaking, it is best to wait till the forsythia begin blooming before doing any pruning – at least for this area. You never know in this wacky Pennsylvania weather when a large snow storm could strike. Last year, I had blooms and black spot in January, then over 20″ of snow dropped on just one February day.
Nevertheless, this particular warm February day, my heart warred as it wrestled with joyful signs of Spring, but also feelings of remorse. After having our home on the market a few months, we received an offer and settle in April. Although there will be much I miss about our home of 10 years, my rose garden will be sorely missed. We hope to do some traveling while settling somewhere in the South – most likely the Myrtle Beach area, which is hardiness zone 8a/b – a whole 2 zones warmer (that much I am looking forward to)! Alas, if we move there, we would purchase a condo with a balcony. Because if I have to give up my rose garden, I require at least a balcony. It wouldn’t surprise me if rose bushes mysteriously pop up around the condominium community too! 😉
While perusing my eager rose babies, I decided to clean up the garden and do some pruning. After all, they still are mine and I long to see a stunning Spring flush one last time before we have to say our goodbyes. Oh, how I hope the young lady who purchased this safe haven, this small glimpse of heaven, will come to cherish it as I have. I can’t even comprehend anyone ripping out rose bushes to settle for ordinary grass. Yet, I realize not everyone is “obsessed with roses” as my friends and family notate about me.
Upon completing my work in the garden, I dusted off the dirt that gathered around my lower limbs, discussed with my husband my accomplishments, and then cried.
Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting Portland, Oregon, also known as the “City of Roses”. Never in my life had I been afforded the opportunity of exploring the Pacific Northwest. What a beautiful state! My husband and I packed in many activities including experiencing enormous waterfalls along the Columbia River, the food trucks located along 10th and Adler Streets, all the way out to Oregon’s coast at Cape Kiwanda. The weather was spectacular especially when you compare it to the extremely hot and humid weather we are accustomed to here in South Central Pennsylvania and the Maryland area. We found it comical Portland had a “heat advisory” for 85 degree weather! Meanwhile, we came back to an “excessive heat advisory” of nearly 110.
Needless to say, while enjoying the perfect temperatures hovering in the upper 60’s and low 70’s, we were blessed to tour not only the beautiful terrain of Oregon, but her roses as well! Known as the “City of Roses”, Portland boasts rose bushes nearly every where you look. The landscaping along the on and off ramps of their highways, median strips, and sidewalks all showcased numerous roses.
While driving back from Cape Kiwanda, noticing the sprawling orchards and nurseries prevalent in Oregon, I recalled Heirloom Roses,the popular online rose supplier of the US, is located just south of Portland. As destiny would have it, according to Google Maps, Heirloom Roses was located just off the next exit on our way back to our hotel. Naturally, with little effort, I was able to persuade my husband into taking a rose detour. In a matter of minutes, I was delighted to tour the facility and gardens of Heirloom Roses. How cool was it to see the very place I’ve ordered roses from! The sales clerk was amicable and gave us free mugs when I purchased a pink tee-shirt that reads, “Sorry, my roses need me!” .
The next day this rose lover / history nerd, toured The End of the Oregon Trail museum, followed by touring Portland’s International Rose Test Garden. My husband was impressed I knew many of the roses by name without looking at the placard. It became a fun little game. Although I knew most of them, there were some roses I had never seen previously. I was hoping to discover a David Austin English rose known as “Lady Emma Hamilton”, a $60 rose bush that sells out super fast. It’s been on my wish list for awhile now, but I had yet to enjoy her in person. Unfortunately, she was no where to be found at the International Rose Test Garden, but it was a lovely garden nevertheless.
The day after visiting the International Rose Test Garden in Portland, we went to Pittock Mansion, which unbeknowst to me also has a rose garden surrounding the mansion itself. In fact, Georgianna Pittock, the lady of the elaborate mansion, was one of the founders of Portland’s Rose Society. She often hosted the rose society’s events in her rose garden. To my utmost surprise and delight, guess what rose was located there? Lady Emma Hamilton! Oh, my, her beautiful sunset orange and pink coloring with abundant fragrance did not disappoint! Frankly, I enjoyed the gardens more than the mansion – especially after discovering my “wish list” rose.
Overall, our trip to Oregon was unforgettable. East Coast mountains, waterfalls, and beaches just don’t even compare to Oregon’s. I’ve told my friends here back home that Oregon ruined me for she is indeed a spectacular state with the added benefit of including a “city of roses”!