The Landlord’s Roses

God gave us memory
so that we might have
roses in December.
– James M. Barrie

This was one of Mom’s favourite quotations, increasing in appeal as she moved through the December of her life. But there’s another way we can have roses in December (and in January, for that matter).

Our rented house in Tempe has a lovely yard, bordered at one end by rose bushes as tall as I am. I don’t suppose they bloom in the Arizona summers, but they do bloom in the so-called winter.

They’re a lovely reminder of the value of planting beautiful things–roses and otherwise– for ourselves and for others; for now and for later.

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8 Responses to The Landlord’s Roses

  1. Tom Watson says:



  2. Thank you, Isabel, because I feel this way about the now-tiny gardens I tend, about the houseplants someone may inherit, and about the live Christmas Tree spruce that is about three feet tall and starting to put out its spring new growth in our fairly warm house. I silently thank the pioneers in our area who planted orange and yellow day lilies that brighten roadsides, the lilac that is rampant in spring, and the purple phlox that keeps summer looking fresh. In so many ways, we reap what others have sown.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – Thank *you*. In the Ottawa area, there are lilacs (blown-in?) in the oddest places outside town. Just here and there, through a landscape that doesn’t naturally produce them. And, of course, they’re only noticeable for a few weeks in the spring. But very welcome then.

  3. barbara carlson says:

    Now if only so many roses hadn’t had their scents bred out
    — wild roses still have such.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barbara – Lilacs are the same way, I think. They bred out a nasty suckering habit, and lost some of the smell, too.

  4. barbara carlson says:

    During a heat wave in England one year, roses were 3 times their normal circumference
    — and laid out flat like dinner plates — and their scent! I almost fainted. But that was the Haddon Hall rose garden — no scentless roses allowed.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barbara – It sounds lovely. I’d never thought about the weather roses needed until I was in my teens and read a novel set in Greece, or somesuch, where the roses were spindly because they didn’t get a cold/cool winter (as compared to England). Roses, like many things, can’t grow well non-stop.

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