By Garnette Arledge

For the bookstore opening, operating not so much on a shoestring as a blade of grass, I bought two rose bushes at Aldi’s in 2010. On special, five dollars each. Scented climbers, which I put in separate fake terra cotta, i.e. plastic, pots filled with organic potting mix and some Delaware County manure, a gift from Ann and Dick Liddle’s dairy farm. Then I planted the bare roots and twig stems with English Ivy and white petunias to decorate and delight the front steps.

Every single passer-by commented (slight exaggeration only): “Nice roses. They’ll never last over the winter. Nobody can grow roses here except Frank Temming, and he says he just cuts ’em back. Don’t know his secret though.”

OK, since most of the used books at Andes Books cost way less than five dollars, I thought it was a good investment for one summer. And bloom! Gorgeous rose after rose, all summer. Their roots must have been excellent, for with watering, bug spray and some rose food, they did just fine. But then September rains, and a winter, not to be real, loomed. I had to do something to save those strong roots. But what? No room in the bookstore as the ficus trees fill all available sunlight – and since I’ve had them for almost forty years, well, they are old friends and companions, easier than my late lamented dog.

So one pot regretfully went into the back barn and pretty promptly died. The other, I put in the empty store just along the porch. I had to let it dry out completely to lessen the weight for moving, watered it once in place, and then somehow the doors in there got locked. The temperature was kept at 50 degrees for the pipes’ sake. But my dear plants had no water, only a bit of pale north light all winter. Leaves turned yellow and fell off. Ivy liked the northern exposure because I could see it from the back porch crawling up the window. Did I mention, no water at all?

Then the landlord came by in late March unlocking the doors where the Andes Public Library had temporary quarters, so I ran in to see what disaster had befallen the rose. To my great surprise, every notch had new leaves, some few new buds, and a good number of limp, twisted full green leaves. I managed to drag the planter out to the porch near the bookstore door, propped it up with a white plastic trellis, fed the roots and applied water liberally. March was cold, but nothing like January and February. Slowly the leaves uncurled, new ones came out, the ivy went bonanza. I think there might be roses by late June or July, whenever it’s warm enough.

Not this May, although the ferns are up just when I thought the only spring flowers were the magic carpets of dandelions covering hill and dale. Even saw someone picking enough to try to make dandelion wine.

That’s one hardy rose bush and her roots are good. And its name: Peace of course. A good traditional variety. ~

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