"Pearly Mae", a Griffith Buck hybrid Rose
Alright, it's early Fall....but fall.I've been fighting it for a week or so, thinking that fall is WEEKS away, but no, it has happened. As a school child, the singing of the Cicada's was the aural signal that school was not far away. I actually like the rhythmic, pulsing sound the creatures make. One Summer a few years ago, three separate species came in to the world at the same time...it was deafening! There was a small sort, that had red eyes, then a much larger one with glossy black beads, that sparkled in the light. I don't remember what our third denizen of the deep looked like- but it was loud. These insects have very specific maturation rates...seventeen year locusts (a misnomer-Cicada) and I think there is a twenty year one, spending all those years feeding on the juices of deciduous trees. Once and awhile, I'd be digging in the garden, and accidentally unearth the pupae in there ivory whiteness, legs splaying in a sloth like stroke. I never killed them, but carefully re in turned them to there earthly bed. I'm pretty sure our native people here, Osage and Shawnee Indians ate the hell out of them in season, a late summer bounty of protein and flavor-they are supposed to taste a bit like Cashews...no thanks. For the native people, school was not the enemy, but the onslaught of Winter was. I wonder if that was what the common thought was.."hmmm, Cicadas=Winter is near". There are these giant Cicada killer wasps that hatch out in sequence to the major Cicada emergence. These things are BIG. they catch the harmless Cicadas in flight, and then drag them into their nest holes, usually in a gravely or rocky area. The big bugs are stung, but not dead. The pregnant female wasp lays her eggs into the body cavity of the Cicada, so that when they hatch, they have live food to subsist on. I've never known anyone to get stung by these prehistorically large wasps, but they can do it! School has begun for all the kids now, and the Cicadas are on there way out...but you can still find there translucent shells, anchored on the bark of Maples and Oaks, Earth suits that have outlived there usefulness. My dad, Jack, would always sing the Irish ballad about the last Rose of Summer, just when the nights would start to get cool (now), I walked the gardens, looking to see what roses were indeed, the last ones. the winner this year was "Queen Bee", a Griffith Buck hybrid. I'm not a red rose fan (being a professional florist/designer) because they have been bred to the point of uselessness. if you didn't know, most red florist roses are bred for lasting quality, and stem length, not scent. this rose was bred for garden use, and maintains a lovely scent, as well as "some of the most beautiful stamens in rosedom"...not my quote. All griff's roses are super hardy, he bred the first "blue " rose, and all the silver to lavender /blue Roses have his breeding in their background. I recently received an amazing rose from a shipment of mixed cut varieties. It had a smoky green layer of gard petals, and the center was filled with pale lavender/bluish petals, with a strong tea fragrance. If you want a scented rose when ordering from a good florist, order lavender...almost always it will be highly scented. I took a few stems home with me, and after I'd enjoyed them a few days, attempted to root them. Miracle on top of miracle, they both rooted! Now I'll trial them, and see if they are hardy. One will go in to the greenhouse, the other will brave the cold and we'll see if it survives. I'm betting on survival,, because this new mystery Rose almost certainly has Griff's hardy blue in it's genes...well see.
My friend Jeff and I would wait for the first hard frost warning, the one that cuts everything down and ends the season? We would go to a large civic rose garden that shall remain nameless, and gather ARMLOADS of beautiful roses, all under the pre-frosty cover of night. We knew where all our favorite varieties were, so no need for anything more than Moonlight to guide us. Folklore, Mister Lincoln, Double Delight, Chrysler Imperial....so gorgeous. I always felt so rich, especially when we would drive by, and see all those blackened stems the next day, waiting for the compost pile. All week, I would treasure those flowers-filling vases in every room, savoring those last scents of Summer. What a great memory....say,when is that first hard frost warning...? Hope it waits till mid October, don't you Jeff?!