Stop and Smell the Roses

Souvenier de la Malmaison, courtesy Antique Rose Emporium website

I was browsing back through my blog entries and noticed something strange. For someone who writes about landscapers, I sure do post a lot of veggie tales.

So, today, I’m going to stop and smell the roses. Specifically the roses of the Texas Rose Rustlers. These legendary folk actually still exist, and here’s the website to prove it. You can even join up if you want.

What happened was that awhile back there were a bunch of abandoned homesteads in far flung areas of the state. Passionate rose-lovers would drive by, spot a specimen they couldn’t identify from their car,  pull over, and go in search of more information. First they’d go up to the house, calling out just in case the owner’s out in the garden, or shed, or barn. (Any real Rose Rustler always asks permission first of any available landowner before wandering someone’s property. It’s courteous — an important part of the Texas Rose Rustler Code — plus it’s pretty darn prudent. Texas has a law saying that you can shoot trespassers.) Once permission is obtained to look, (Or, in the beginning of the movement when such things were more common, abandonment of the homestead was verified.) the interested party then goes to the beauty in question and pokes about a bit, trying to figure out from the hips, blooms, leaves and habitat just what it could be. If permission is granted to take a cutting, then selections are made, clippers are pulled, and the deed is done.

I have a bed of Katy Road Pinks that came from a Rustler’s foray onto an old abandoned farm just west of Houston. Lovely single pink roses, compact and fragrant. These pinks are an ever-blooming variety cultivated long before such things were patented and sold under a trade name. Other roses have been identified and re-propagated for sale by those professionals among the Rustlers. One of my favorite nurseries is outside of Brenham, Texas and run by one of the original Rustlers. The Antique Rose Emporium offers a multitude of specimens that settlers to the area carried with them when coming to establish their homestead out here in the wilderness of early Texas. I trek out there at least twice a year to smell their roses — and bring a new specimen home for a trial. Belinda’s Dream, Caldwell Pink, and Old Blush are three of my favorites. This coming spring I’m adding a Paul’s Scarlet climber to the gate on the west side of the house. Took me ten years to get an arbor that would stay up longer than an hour so that I could put this one in. (I am not very good at building this sort of thing. Bought this arbor already made.) I planted one of these in honor of my husband, Paul, two houses ago and I loved it. Too large to dig and move with us, I had to leave it for the new owners. I hope they appreciated its handsome blooms.

Happy gardening!


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