Harvesting Roses in Miriam Wilkins' Garden



For five years after Miriam Wilkins' passing, we have had the privilege of harvesting roses in what remains of her garden. The property is a wild thing now with no care taken and the few roses that remain are the hardy species types that Miriam loved best in her later years. These pictures were taken last year, once again, on the Friday before the Celebration of Old Roses. You will see that amongst the ruin we still managed to gather spectacular things. This rose is Dorothy Perkins.





First a nod to the species roses Miriam loved. 



This is a hardy European rose- if you think you know the name, let me know.



Year after year, this rose thrills me. It is a monster though, huge, extremely thorny, but with the most compelling and photogenic blooms. I've taken many pictures of it and you will see it in the bouquet below. I've never seen a rose to compare with this one, and who knows, this may be the only one in existence.


To me, a garden of the heart would be a modest affair, whatever the true gardener who loves to work in the soil comes up with, not lavish estates. We are all limited in one way or another. Visitors to gardens must take this into account. That is why I never hesitate to let anyone see our rose collection. There must be something here to teach or please.

~Miriam Wilkins








The harvestees are now ready to wow people at the Celebration.




Celebration of Old Roses 2016

Sunday, May 15, from 11:00 am to 3:3o pm

Click here for more info.




As we were harvesting, I noticed the steps and pots below Dorothy Perkins, and then realized Dorothy had demolished a pergola.


We bought our dream lot in 1944 when Dick returned from the South Pacific. It looked out at the Golden Gate, a mysterious sight when wreathed in fog. Five years later the house was built and we moved in with three children under five years. Soon we had a lawn with play equipment, and a badminton court. I was buying old roses from Roses of Yesterday and Today. They were planted in neat rows with paths between the plots. The lawn and everything went in 1952. Roses grew as roses will. I began to garden on my neighbors back forty. That was soon filled. Five years ago (2002), the two yards were well worth a visit, but it's been downhill every since. I do not encourage visitors but they may come if they care to.

~Miriam  Wilkins


The wonderful thing is that she always welcomed us and in that overgrown state there was wonderment! Miriam's garden has given its all again and again and here it's 2016. I hope to see you at the Celebration–there will be many wonderful roses for sale propagated especially for you!


I've done a number of posts about both Miriam and the Celebration and links to them are provided here.



Rose Bouquet Gathering of Royalty


It's a special privilege to harvest roses from one's own garden any day of the year. On May 16, for the Celebration of Old Roses, I knew it was going to be slim pickings though, since my roses were almost spent. Several shrubs only had one rose to offer, but in the end, the bouquet I made for our flowernotes display table managed to include seventeen exquisite members of genus rosa.





I'm kind of sentimental about these bouquets, because the offering always has so much history whether it's from a gardener's point of view or from rose history itself.



I fell in love with Madame Hardy in an ancient church yard, on an overcast day in England.



I first saw The Swamp Rose, R. palustris, in Marilyn Wellan's Louisiana garden. I thought it was a spirea with thin elegant leaves, as it hadn't bloomed yet. This sweet thing is my latest favorite– just look at those elegant buds.



The wonderful Perle d'Or, a must for every rose garden, in my humble opinion. It took me a long time to figure out how to get this to grow. I found it's best not to deadhead it, since it gets fresh growth along the panicles.



This little honey is a seedling that appeared at the foot of Kathleen in my garden. I think it would be fun to call her Carolyn Parker! 


I'll tell you the names of the ten other roses in the bouquet, because they are all fabulous, and you might want to look them up on Help Me Find and even purchase them for your garden. Albertine, Shoener's Nutkana, Jeanne La Joie, Kathleen, Escapade, R. roxburghii, Pink Gruss an Achen, Apothecary's Rose, Shailer's Provence, Common Moss. I'm sorry to say, there are three I don't have names for.



As you can see, I never tire of taking pictures of such bouquets.



And here is one last shot, after I finished putting it together in the cold windy morning–always a solitary and happy time.



Celebration 2015 Wrap UP


It always takes me awhile to digest the experience of a big event like the Celebration of Old Roses. Three days later I'm finally ready to share.



After lunch today I shot this picture of the garden from our living room. See how overcast it is – it's even cold out there, and it's May 20! It's been that way for a couple of weeks. Since we are in drought mode and we had warm weather in April most our roses are long gone for now. Note how green it is out there – the whole garden has been deadheaded. Thankfully though, the cool weather made it possible to actually have roses on the display tables at the Celebration.



The day before the Celebration, I made a bouquet for our flowernotes magazine display table. R. palustris, The Swamp Rose, had lots to offer in the filler department, and really made the bouquet possible.



During my foraging I was happily greeted by 'Danebrog', the first bloom ever (in our garden) on this special Annie's Annuals poppy.



Here's the group I ended up taking to the Celebration. Not much from here; funny how most are magenta. Other Celebration goers had much more to offer.



For easy packing, this crate holds four French buckets of roses.



 Ready to go!


At the Celebration


When we arrived, Virginia Keane had just begun arranging this beautiful bouquet at the entrance. Here it's complete, and the doors are ready to open.



This is the Species Roses display. The R.palustris I brought is there at the upper left.



La Belle Sultane always thrills me at the Gallica display.



Here's the flowernotes table – lots of people signed up to receive updates about the magazine.



A phone picture of me taken by my friend Mary. At the Celebration, I found out that the sweet peas (in front of me) are named 'High Scent'. They were so fragrant, people loved them. They are actually still going strong and are also pictured on the table in the image at the top of the page.



At the end of the day, people are invited to purchase rose stems from the display tables for 25 cents each! 



When I returned home, after pizza at Zachary's with my friend Mary, I looked out the kitchen window and there was Climbing Cecile Brunner. Somehow it seems right to show the garden, in gratitude for all it has made possible.


And one last shot of Virginia's stunning bouquet with a picture of Celebration founder, Miriam Wilklins.