If I had to pick just one plant from my garden to take with me, it wouldn’t be one of my fruit trees or any type of edible whatsoever. It would be a potted rose on my patio. I’ve had this miniature rose since the early 1990’s. Before that it belonged to my grandmother who first acquired it in the early 80’s. The rose lived on her picturesque deck in La Jolla, CA looking west to the ocean. It was a small, old home perched on top of a bluff. Along with the view, one of the other memorable, fantastic qualities of her house was it’s sprawling old wooden deck. Being on the side of a hill, this deck was the main garden.
My grandmother’s thumbs were bright green and her favorite plants to grow were roses. To her, the beauty of a rose was unsurpassed. And with so many varieties and scents, the possibilities were endless and enthralling. She would spend hours pouring over rose catalogues and show me her favorites that she’d like to have one day. When I’d spend the weekend at her house, we’d wake up in the morning and, coffee in her hand, we would take an early walk around the deck “to say hi” to the roses and see how they’d changed from the day before. I soon realized that although a day doesn’t seem to be enough time to see a plant change, if you looked close enough, many things could happen in 24 hours. I grew to appreciate patience and to feel joy over the little things. And of course she also taught me how to prune roses, which helps me think of her every January when I use her knowledge in my own garden some 25 years later.
Today the hillside that once cradled her home is now covered in overpriced condominiums with fancy cars dotting the drive ways. To me, that’s not it’s true identity, since it lives on in my memory as it was when I was a child. It’ll always represent the special part of the earth where I spent many weekends of my childhood spending time with one fantastic lady.
So, this is why, this rose is my most prized and loved garden inhabitant. I don’t even remember the name of this rose, nor do I care to remember. To me, it’s just, Dolores. It’s my grandmother, both unassuming and radiant, delicate and also filled with little thorns. I would have never known that a rose could live for 30 years in a pot and still it remains, some years battling rust and disease, and other years blooming more profusely than I can ever remember. It lives on in my yard as it did on her deck so many years ago. And although my daughter never had the chance to meet Dolores, my daughter can still smell and pick and admire the same blooms that my grandmother and I carefully studied each morning together during my weekend stays on her wooden deck overlooking the sea.