Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Celebrities in My Garden

'Nancy Reagan'
Originally uploaded by Rozanne.
Front and center is Nancy Reagan, smelling like a rose, because, you see, she is one. Please believe that I did resist buying a rose named after a person whom I do not hold in particularly high regard, but she was just so peachy and perfect-looking in the photos I kept seeing. After two years of holding off, I broke down and bought a one-gallon pot of Nancy. The irony is, of course, that in my garden the ‘Nancy Reagan’ rose is stingy, scrawny, and quick to fade. Rather like the woman herself, I imagine. I took the photo shown here yesterday; today she's already looking a bit shabby.

Nancy is not the only celebrity in my garden. I’ve got a ‘John F. Kennedy’ rose (white but stippled with rather unattractive red, pimply blemishes). There’s a garden gate separating JFK and Nancy Reagan—in case anyone’s worried about the potential for partisan violence. I’ve also got a 'Prince Charles' clematis, which is a gorgeous lavender color and, unlike the real prince, is not in the least fuss-pottish or petulant.

It have always found cultivar names--especially those for roses and clematis--highly amusing. If one were so inclined, one could turn her garden into the cocktail party from hell, planting the Prince Charles clematis, the Princess Diana clematis, the Barbra Steisand rose, the Ronald Reagan rose, the Dolly Parton rose, the General MacArthur rose, the Elizabeth Taylor rose, the Pope John Paul II clematis, the Charles Darwin clematis, the Nero clematis, the Mary Magdalene clematis, the Kaiser Wilhelm clematis, and the Madame Chiang Kai-shek rose. And for good measure--the Betty Boop rose, the Tinker Bell rose, and the El Pinko clematis (to get Ronnie’s dander up). One would have to be ready for the garden to spontaneously combust at any moment.

I’m not rushing out to add more celebs to my garden, but I am very tempted to find a place for the Jude the Obscure rose—brought to my attention by LeLo at her Sassy Gardener blog.* Even if it weren’t such a knockout (and fragrant, too), I’d be on the lookout for this rose just because of the hilarious inappropriateness of its name. Is it named for St. Jude the Obscure, patron saint of lost causes and hopeless cases? Or is it named for Thomas Hardy’s exceptionally gloomy, fatalistic novel? Take your pick!

You have to wonder what the rose-naming folks were thinking giving a name like Jude the Obscure to such a nice rose. Did they do their homework? I think not. My theory is that someone just got it into his/her head to name some roses after Thomas Hardy novels (there’s at least one other I know of--Tess of the d’Urbervilles). I’m sure protests (if any) about naming a rose after a novel that ends with Jude’s young son, known as “Little Father Time,” hanging his mother, his siblings, and himself fell on deaf ears. Then again, there's also a Benson and Hedges Gold rose. Yep--a rose named after a cigarette. That just ain’t right.

*I just checked the Sassy Gardener blog to get the link and found that LeLo has a wonderful new post up about roses and the stories they tell. Check it out!


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