Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Pampering, hats, and American roses....

DH gave me a gift certificate for a deluxe manicure and pedicure, which I just now got around to using today. Ahhh....I usually do my own nails, but enjoy a pampering a few times a year.

Afterwards, I went to Burlington Coat Factory and tried on hat after hat. I would like to start wearing more hats, but I have great difficulty selecting them. I'm also a bit self-concious, because few women around here wear dress hats, unless it's to a speicific occasion that calls for a ladylike hat. When I try on hats, I look like 1) Mary Poppins 2) Ma Ingalls 3) a bag lady or 4) an aging 1930's movie star -- "I'm ready for my close up, Mr. DeMille." I've figured out that I need some firmness in my hats -- no floppy maaterials. I need a smallish hat. I need a brim or a decoration with an upwards design. I found some that were darling, but just a little over the top for me to feel completely comfortable. Oh, well, I'll keep looking, so that I can find just the right hat to add to my collection. Oh, I did pick up a black beret, but it's not in the line of a dressier hat, as I had envisioned buying. Does anyone have any tips for wearing hats well?

In keeping with my theme this week, I wanted to talk about gardening with roses a la American style. Mother England begat in her American and Canadian children a love of roses. Roses have a reputation for being hard to grow. But, more and more gardeners are turning to old varities. These are more resistant than modern hybrids are to disease. They are often more fragrant than newer varieties. They give an ambiance of a lovely old garden. The only drawback is that they generally bloom only once or twice a growing season.

How do you know if a rose is an antique or heirloom variety? Some people date them as roses taht were grown in gardens before 1870, when the first hybrid tea rose was introduced. Since then, hybrid roses have been loved for their ability to bloom all season and for their beauty. However, in the past few years, there has been a resurgance of interest in older roses.

My grandparents house had a lovely old-fashioned rose that bloomed and bloomed. Even after my grandmother died and my grandfather grew too old to care about gardening, the rose thrived even with neglect. This shows how hardy the old roses are.

Texas, oddly enough, is a source for many nurseries who are seeking to grow and market the older roses. I'm sure you've heard the stories of pioneer women who carried rose bushes wrapped in wet cloths or burlap with them when they went to settle the west. The covered wagons only held so much, and women were encouraged to bring only those things which were essential for their new life. So, I imagine that these women must have valued these bushes highly to not only make room for them among their goods, but to keep them moist and alive throughout the arduous journey. Can you imagine a young bride dreaming of her new home and picturing a rose flowering by her door?

Of course, certain parts of Texas have a clime that isn't particularly favorable for roses, but the roses thrived in other parts. These rose bushes often lived on long after the original house of the settlers had been destroyed. Horticulturists have made it a point to go through Texas, searching out these abandoned homesteads in order to find the roses that our great-great-grandmothers grew.

How do you garden with old roses today? Many rose nurseries and web sites sell roses that are labeled heirloom or old or antique. Also, your local garden society can tell you about sources of old roses in your area.

Roses are specific to certain growing zones. So, if you live in the northern U.S. or Canada, be sure to select a rose that can stand the weather extremes in your area.



Anonymous said...

Hi Elizabeth, sorry I haven't visited in a while. I love roses too. I dead-head as soon as the blooms have faded and my varieties bloom all summer...one is a climbing rose and one is a new hybrid (I can't remember the name).

Elizabeth said...

Hi Sarah, Your roses sound lovely. I love climbing roses.