This week the New Canaan Garden Club is having one of my favorite speakers, Stephen Scaniello! Many years ago, I visited the Cranford Garden at the Brooklyn Botanical garden in early Autumn. I was enchanted. With a little research I found that Stephen was the reason for the garden’s success, and I was able to orchestrate a speaking engagement for the Club. I have been a devoted fan ever since. I used to keep his ‘A Year of Roses’ at my bedside. Okay, the Bible was there too, but it’s between God and me which book got more face time.
My (signed!) copy of this treasure of a book, gave me a month to month schedule to follow for maintaining and growing beautiful roses. 31 years ago, we bought our second property in Sleepy Hollow NY (then it was just North Tarrytown) and other than some annoying cedar trees, the only plant of note was a large red shrub rose. My Grandfather always grew hybrid teas, those fussy little monsters demanding a myriad of bad chemicals in order to produce a decent unscathed bloom. But this climbing shrub led me to other enchanting roses in all of my subsequent gardens. Many books have been written on the subjectof roses and I have my favorites in my own collection of garden books, but Stephen’s books are at the top of the list. In 2009 I added ‘A Rose by Any Name’ to that collection and it bemuses the reader with a history of well named roses and how those names came to be. If I have grown a rose, chances are that I will remember its name. But after 30 years of growing and reading about roses, there are names I should know but they don’t quickly come to mind. A good reason I am not a surgeon, “Nurse, hand me that whatchamacallit for that something under that organ whose name escapes me, but you know what I mean.”
Back to that idea that hybrid roses demand chemicals. I learned a lot about roses from my dear garden friend, Julie Dent. She grew roses, many hybrid tea, floribunda and grandiflora, and no one did it better! Yes, that is a reproduction of the Julie Dent silver bowl, given yearly by the New Canaan Garden Club in the top photo! I have been the humble recipient of that bowl twice, and that award urges me forward every year to learn something new about roses and to share that with others. She did indeed use systemic products that I will not use any longer, but with the introduction of new roses every year bred to withstand black spot and grow with less chemical demands, there is no shortage of roses I can grow.
Hope I learn something new on Wednesday!