The Rose That Rose

Illustration by Marilynne Roach

I’ve always wanted to garden. When we married and bought a house in the suburbs with 7 trees in a big backyard, I thought I’d found heaven on earth!

We decided to plant roses in part of the front yard. The soil was terrible—clay with rocks.I didn’t realize we needed to improve it. We dug barely deep-enough holes and crammed in the plants. Most of them died within a few years, except for a Peace and a Fragrant Cloud. They took longer to succumb.

One other rose, close to the sidewalk, died on top, but the rootstock on which it had been grafted did not. It struggled but never expired. At some point I planted the ground cover snow-on-the-mountain (also known as bishop’s weed) next to the sidewalk. It soon spread and surrounded the little rose. Year after year the rose would send up little green stems, only to have them overtaken and buried by the snow-on-the-mountain.

One Spring I stood looking at the hopeless small stems, with their futile headstart on the ground cover, and thought, “People talk to their plants. Maybe I should try it.”

So I directed a very emphatic and, OK, sarcastic message at the little rose: “You know, if you would just grow, you could get above that stuff and have a life!”

Imagine my surprise when, after all those years, the rose did just that. New canes sprouted and grew enough to arch over the snow-on-the-mountain. They even bloomed lovely dark-crimson flowers!

If only my thought power would work—in reverse—on weeds!

—By Melody Morrell of Eugene, OR.


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