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Damask Roses

When we first bought the house in the fall of 2021, one of my early projects was to work on our front yard. From getting a local landscaper over to take down a yew that was growing dangerously close to the foundation, to enlisting my husband's help in pruning and relocating two overgrown rhododendrons crowding out the front door, to figuring out what was an overgrown shrub versus weeds-gone-wild, to putting a plan together to address the obsession with St John's Wort the former owner had allowed to take over, well, everything!, there was a ton to do. In fact, before I'd even bought our galvanied steel troughs to use as raised beds, half of the section where they ended up was just a nightmarish 6' pile of yard debris I'd made for the landscaper to pick up, hahaha...

Good things - so many! - came from this early work, particularly due to moving in the autumn, something we'd never done before, with one of the biggest success stories being the HUGE damask rose that was crossing the path and looking like it was going to inhale anything that came near it with it's massive thorny branches and obviously never-pruned body. So now, as our second summer approaches, I am SO thrilled to see how it has truly come into its own - embracing its wildness (did you know that damask roses get up to 7' high?!) while adding gorgeous color to the area just at the top of our stairs. It's impossible to tell if the rose bush technically started on our side or our neighbor's, but I've considered it a shared beauty, and the other day was happy to encourage our neighbor's son to cut some for his mother as the scent of them is SO gorgeous. (PS - amen to Google Lens for helping identify the rose variety).

Unlike the kind we see in most gardens, Damask roses are short-lived, so one must truly take advantage of them while they can! I also just learnd that these - which originated in Persia - are also the type of roses most used to make perfumes and rose water. So I've got my work cut out for me this week if I want to make the latter!! It's truly not 'work', though, as being around roses has been with me since the very beginning. As a little girl, my Dad and I would wander the International Rose Test Gardens in our hometown of Portland, then go back to his house where he grew huge Mister Lincoln roses and show me the Double Delights in my grandmother's garden as well. It was one of my best memories of my childhood, and what I miss most about him.

This one's for you, dad...


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