Or How I Made Friends with a Rose
I don't know the first thing about roses. I never imagined having one in my garden.
So what am I doing taking up rose-growing at this stage of my life? That's easy to answer, I had a special get-acquainted chance to find out about this lovely bloom, a chance to remember some happier, innocent days of my childhood.
So I now have a rose.
But this is not just any rose, this is Ursula's Dream.
The rose was specially commissioned to mark the 115th anniversary of the establishment of St Columba's College, my old school. I don't know how much the nuns enjoyed teaching me, but I certainly enjoyed my eight years there and I can say, quite truthfully, that those days were some of the happiest in my life.
The first principal was Mother Ursula, who had a dream of setting up a college for young women. That's her in the 19th century photo, looking calm and very much in charge of herself. My teachers had that same air about them.
Originally from Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, Ursula Bruton brought an unmistakable Irish touch with her and it lasted right through my own school years. Apart from the excellent education, I picked up a powerful sense of social justice, a wild love of language and a certain fondness for Columba, scholar, saint and irascible rogue.
So here I am, 50 years later, with a rose in memory of Ursula's Dream.
How will I ever learn to care for a rose?
How about a Pot?
During the 13 long years of drought in Melbourne, I abandoned my garden. All of my pretty borders and decorative bushes were left to care for themselves and, frankly, they couldn't do it! Plants died but others appeared as passing birds left me treasures.
I spent any gardening energy I had on a few herbs in pots and carried buckets of water from the washing machine to these survivors.
Pots! That's the answer. I'll put my rose in a pot and, later, when it's established itself, I'll just place the whole thing in the ground. Even better, I'll organise my son to dig into my clay and he can do the rest. Easy solution..
Yes! I can plant a potted rose
Luckily, I have Lisa
My friend Lisa knows about roses.
Not that she has any in her garden, that space is completely dedicated to growing food, but she still knows about roses. She's always ready to give me a helping hand too!
We spent a happy hour or so putting Ursula's Dream into pots. At least, Lisa did the heavy work, I watched from the sidelines and made encouraging noises.
In goes the Potting Mix
The containers get filled to about halfway with potting mix from the local nursery.
The rose is carefully placed
Lisa poured in the potting mix to about half the size of the pot, piling up a small mound in the centre.
She then carefully placed the roots down and outwards over the mound. Like a little seat for the plant and absolutely no stress for Ursula's Dream. Lisa made sure that any longer roots were dug in around the edges of the mound so that they weren't twisted or bent to the side.
I even got my own hands dirty here by patting in more soil as Lisa held the plant firmly.
A good soak
A nice big soak, then more of the potting mix around the rose. Lisa pushed that soil down hard so that no air would be trapped around the roots. More of the mix, then another good soak.
Now, all I have to do is wait till Spring!
I'll let you know how my rose gets along.
By Spring I should have photos to show the progress of my very own Ursula's Dream
Have you ever grown a rose?
Are you an expert on roses or a novice like me?
© 2013 Susanna Duffy