By Elaine A. Senft
As a little girl growing up in the warm environs of White Rock, the only roses I really enjoyed the smell of were the hot pink rugosas planted along the railroad track near the beach. I didn't think much of roses then. Well, that was to change. I can't remember the year when my husband and kids visited Miracle Beach on Vancouver Island but I do recall what happened. We were visiting friends near the beach when I spotted a quaint cottage and a garden with arbors and roses everywhere.
My excitement was overwhelming…pink roses climbing over trellises, white, yellow...more pink ...it was definitely an awakening...I couldn't stop myself from inhaling all the overpowering fragrances. The cottage on that particular beach happened to be the home of none other than the former president of the Vancouver Rose Society, Pat Murdoch...my poor family, looking all over for me and there I was, talking to her and her husband about roses.
That was it, I was hooked! I had to have a rose garden...and they had to be fragrant! No ands, ifs, or buts! Climbing Cecile Brunner, New Dawn, Golden Showers and, of all things, Veilchenblau ...but where to put them? So, 25 years ago, the trellis and arbor thing began in our Deep Cove, North Vancouver garden. We (my husband and I) built them from used wood and wired them together. My friends thought I was a nut...that’s the passion, once we're hooked! She (Murdoch, my mentor) said... “always remember, Elaine, buy good plants” ...and I have. Three hundred and fifty or so roses later, seventeen arbors and whatyamacallsits, I can say I now have a rose garden consisting of pretty much all Old Garden Roses (OGRs).
My #1 favourite rose of all is Mme Alfred Carriere (a creamy-white, fluffy, wonderfully fragrant noisette from the mid 1800s). Other favourites include a variety of modern roses, David Austin English roses and OGRs: New Dawn, R.Rugosa Rosaerie de la Hay, R. Filipes Kiftsgate, Bobbie James, Wedding Day, Lichtkoenigen Lucia, Sparrieshoop, Albertine, Graham Thomas, Abraham Darby, Leander, Rosa Mundi, Paul's Himalayan Musk, Rosa Canary Bird (she's the first to bloom but can be tender), Rosa Macrantha, Westerland and Autumn Sunset... I have probably missed naming some more...oh yes, Rosa Mulliganii and on and on…then there was the time I tried, and succeeded, in transplanting one of the house-eaters, Wedding Day!!
That day I really was Hung Up On Roses!!! Today, I enjoy a passion I can’t let go of – I enjoy acting as a rosarian consultant and teaching/giving lectures on roses because I have the time and the desire to share this information. I have grown wonderful old garden roses for nearly 25 years and it all started that sunny summer on Vancouver Island…we all have to start somewhere! I feel Mother Nature would be happy with that!