Roses are one of the great garden delights. Taking an evening walk through the historic neighborhoods of Galveston I can smell their scent drifting on a warm breeze blocks before I find the lucky home where they are blooming. Many people (myself included) begin with the assumption that roses are a challenge to be taken on only by the most experienced gardeners. We see photos of elaborate greenhouses built to protect these delicate plants and wizened care takers who look like the entirety of their last 20-40 years was spent coddling the roses so they could thrive. I viewed roses as far too expensive and risky for someone with a full time job and limited income to waste time on just because they looked pretty a few weeks of the year.
In 2019 my parents gave me a rose plant for my birthday. It was a Katrina Rose that one of their friends had rooted from a cutting. The story of the “Peggy Martin” Rose, also known as the Katrina Rose, is one well known by gardeners in the Southern Gulf States. Peggy Martin’s rose garden was flooded with 20 feet of salt water during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. When she was able to return home, this climbing rose was one of 2 plants still alive and it was putting on fresh growth. It is a story of surviving the worst with grace and hope. Dr. William C. Welch, Professor & Landscape Horticulturist at Texas A&M University, has written about this in detail in his article “Peggy Martin” Rose – Aggie Horticulture – Texas A&M University
I left the potted rose sitting in a shaded corner for a few weeks certain that even this hardy variety would not survive my inept care. Finally, I prepped an area of ground near our little picket fence and dropped the rose in the soil to take its chances. Almost a year later, it is thriving. It produces fresh bouquets of lovely pink flowers every couple of days since spring started 2 weeks ago. The blooms do not last long when cut from the plant so they are not really meant for vases. They do, however, have the most delightful flavor and are perfect for the kitchen.
How to make your own Rose Sugar and a recipe for Rose Sugar Cookies coming in the next few posts. In the mean time, never assume your thumbs aren’t green enough for growing roses. There are many varieties that are hardy enough for any garden (or accidental gardener).