The Scent of a Lady

Thursday, October 8, 2009

It's one of the most favorite rose bushes I've ever planted -- and I've given it the prime spot in the Backyard of Bird. I'm proud to introduce the showpiece against the far back fence: the one, the only: SCENTIMENTAL.

I'm a sucker for roses. I'll be honest -- I haven't always been this way. I learned this love from a former roommate and still a good friend from Fresno by the name of Russ Maurice. When Russ and I moved into a ramshackle duplex together in the mid 1980's, one of the first things that he did was landscape the small side and backyard with strips of turf and a few rose bushes that he retrieved from a neighbor's green waste heap.

I even remember the name of his favorite rose: Midas Touch. He would gift his girlfriend, Michelle, with golden-yellow bouquets whenever possible.

I've never forgotten his love for roses, because that sparked my interest and eventual love as well. I had no idea that -- like heirloom tomatoes -- roses had names and histories behind them. And once I had set my mind to study -- it was no longer "just a yellow" or "just a red" rose. It was a Mr. Lincoln! A John F. Kennedy! A Blue Girl!

Like most of my favorite roses, I stumbled upon Scentimental quite by accident. Although I can't quite remember for sure -- this rose may have been part of a free gift. It was one of those "buy three roses and get one free" deals from a retailer like Jackson Perkins or Weeks. In the second year, when it grew to a height of six feet and over the fence at our first home -- well -- I knew I had something special.

The Scentimental is a Floribunda rose. What does that mean? Unlike the hybrid tea roses, which produce the classic beautiful rose on a long, single stem, the Floribunda produces great numbers of roses on just one stem. You can't cut just one and bring it inside the house for a flower arrangement. If you're going to cut -- you're going to get three or four.

I'll be honest -- I wasn't wild about Floribunda roses. Like most romatic suckers -- err -- men, I wanted the long-stem hybrid tea roses. I let my love for these varieties drive me a little nuts with my first home in the Madera Ranchos area of Madera County to be honest. I planted fifty different varieties of only the best hybrid tea roses -- roses that survive and thrive to this very day.

It's how I convinced the wife that is Venus -- to be the wife that is Venus. True -- most ladies can wave off or dismiss a single hybrid tea rose with a wave of the hand. But when you present a lady with the riot of color that is 40-to-50 hybrid tea roses week after week -- that kind of affection is tough to ignore. It is the rose that convinced her of my love and devotion. The rest is history.

Now, I will also admit that planting 40 hybrid tea roses was also a GIANT LANDSCAPING MISTAKE (one reason why I no longer own this home). Roses are nice -- yes. They're also a pain to care for. They require daily fertilizer, pruning, protection against disease and pests and offer lots and lots of skin-penetrating thorns. OUCH! It would take an entire weekend or two to carefully prune back the collection of hybrid tea and hedge roses that I had planted in Madera.

But that work was well worth the effort.

When Venus and I moved from the first home into our new (and current) home in North Natomas -- I had already made the decision. The Scentimental Rose that had scaled the fence in an out-of-the-way spot in the front yard was coming with us. It would get the prime location in the new backyard: the furthest corner from the house.

It's the first rosebush that people spot upon entering the Backyard of Bird. I knew that transplanting this beast would throw it into a bit of a shock, and while it grew well in that first year, it didn't grow as well as I knew it could. This year, however? The second year? It's up and over the six foot fenceline and still growing.

I can only imagine what will happen in Year Three.

The following is from the website All America Rose Selections:

"Scentimental intrigues the senses with burgundy and cream striped petals and a sweet spice fragrance. This free-blooming, rounded floribunda mimics the look and scent of the striped hybrid roses of the 1800s. Although striped roses date back more than 100 years, Scentimental is the first striped rose to win the AARS (All American Rose Selection, 1997) award.

Deep green, quilted foliage flatters large, pointed buds each opening to expose a swirl of color as unique as a snowflake. The 4-inch flowers have 25 to 30 petals. Introduced by Weeks Roses, Scentimental was hybridized by Tom Carruth. The rose was created from a combination of Playboy and Peppermint Twist."


The Vintage Vignette said...

Beatiful rose indeed! I planted 48 bushes on my property a few years ago and although I love the hybrid teas, floribundas, grandifloras and polyanthas now thriving, I am truly in love with my David Austin English roses. Because they are shrub roses they are SOOO much easier to care for and the fragrances are unbelievable. As a matter of fact I am trying to convince my husband to help me redesign the property to have ONLY David Austin English roses but so far he is not having it after all the hard work we put into planting already but Aahhh the battle is not lost yet! :)

Greg Damitz said...

Very nice rose bush. I've had a bush and 20 hybrid teas for over a decade but I'm planning on removing most if not of all of them as I try to move to an edible landscape.

Fred Hoffman said...

Roses are the most forgiving of all plants. Ask 100 rosarians how to care for roses, you will get 100 answers...yet the roses will thrive, despite the plethora of questionable cultural techniques employed. Now can I have that Nobel Prize for diplomacy? Thanks, Bill!

Bill Bird said...

One of my goals, which will be accomplished "someday" (like the greenhouse), is a rose arbor near the back fence, featuring old climbing roses purchased from the Old Sacramento Cemetery on Broadway.