End of October – rose season! As the roses flush, spring is superseded by early summer and – usually – by now the rains have started. As I write this there is the promise of a thunderstorm, but so far we have measured only 24mm this month, all less than 4mm in a day. That means the roses are happy, as they don’t like too much water except at their feet; and therefore Trudie’s Garden features this week.
It seems it is still a time for tributes, as death rears its head among the roses. Trudie’s Garden is a collection of 30 plus roses donated to me by a friend who felt she was growing too old to do justice to her roses. I planted them outside the living room window from where my mother could enjoy them as she grew older. When Trudie passed away late last autumn, I picked the last rose of the season, scented and red, and took it to her daughter.
Amongst Trudie’s roses, mostly HTs, mostly red, were several bushes of one of my mom’s favourite roses: a huge and beautifully scented salmon orange rose called Harmonie. I’ve just checked it, and that is in fact the international name. The name is German, the rose raised by Kordes in 1981. I always thought it was a local name as that is also the Afrikaans spelling; an excellent name for a rose with as much presence as the famous Peace. However in our family it has always been known as the Dobbie Rose, as my father’s partner’s wife, Dobbie, gave the first one to my mother as a gift many years ago, and she was thrilled to see that there were several Dobbie Roses among those that came from Trudie.
Recently, as my father was trying to contact Dobbie to let her know of my mother’s decline, her daughter phoned with the news that Dobbie had passed away. In my mom’s last days, already barely speaking and in great discomfort, I picked a Dobbie Rose, the first rose of the new season in Trudie’s Garden, and brought it in to my mother. She took it and inhaled the scent deeply, smiled, and dropped the rose to her chest. It stood by her bed through her last days. Tomorrow I am taking my dad back to their home in Johannesburg. The fading Dobbie Rose will remain on the bookcase in the living room, a tribute to three women who loved roses.