True Romance

carefree-beauty-rose.jpgMy landscape and garden occupies a lot and a half in a very urban setting.  Pontiac, Michigan, to be exact.  I do not have a villa in the south of France, or in Italy.  I do not live in California, or England.  I am the head gardener for a small property in the upper midwest.  I live in a city.  I can hear the motorcycles and the ambulances-and the music from the party next door.  I am not complaining.  I like where I live.  I love my house.  I treasure my garden.  But that moment in early June when my modest patch of roses begin to bloom is a moment that I truly treasure.  The roses coming into bloom is all about the romance of the garden.

June-blooming-roses.jpgMost of my landscape is primarily confined to five plants.  Yews. boxwoods, arborvitae, magnolias-and lawn.  This is a landscape that that I am able to properly keep up.  This is a landscape that is friendly to my dogs.  It is a landscape about order and structure. My wild cards are few-by this I mean, manageable. I cannot come home to chaos.  I need healthy, first and foremost.  I need tended, secondarily. Thirdly, I need beauty.  My work life is such that I want peace, quiet, and delight when I go home.  But I have a few places for perennials.  Perennials-loads of work.  I have one small patch over which I am willing to fret weekly.  But then, there are the roses.

June-blooming-roses.jpgNo other plant speaks to the romance of the garden in the way  that roses do.  The blooms are beautiful, and fragrant.  When they are happy, they bloom profusely.  So many florists get instructions to send roses to a loved one for a birthday, for Mother’s Day, for Valentine’s day- and for good reason.  The rose speaks to romance.   My corgis know what it means when I say-let’s go see the roses. They race around to the rose garden.  When Buck brings home roses for me, I am a very happy girlfriend.  Even Buck is enjoying the the June garden moment that celebrates the roses.  The climbing roses-the miniature Jeannie LeJoie and the climber Eden.  The shrub roses-Carefree Beauty, and Sally Holmes.

roses.jpgThis small rose garden has a lot to say right now.  I feel no need to expound on which roses are good, and which roses are bad.  There are lots and lots of roses to choose from.  The David Austin shrub roses.  The knockout roses.  The species roses.  The tea roses.  The grandifloras.  The tree roses.  Blanc Double de Coubert-the fragrance is astonishing.    Try some.  Try any of them that appeal to you.  If they fail, figure out why.  No garden should be without a patch of roses.  No plant endows a garden with more romance than a rose.


Why is the romance so important?  Romance has everything to do with what it means to be a person.  Relationships make the world go round- this includes garden relationships.  Any expression of love is an expression well worth making.   Anyone who gardens expends a lot of thought, time and money to making a natural environment that is beautiful.  Tell me if you think there is anything more romantically beautiful than a rose in bloom.  My advice?  Plant a few roses.

roses.jpgMy work life right now is busy-as in urgent.  Every day, all day long, I am working.  But every day I go home, and Buck and I eventually meet in the rose garden.  It is a fitting end to the day.  The view of the roses in bloom-beautiful.

climbing-rose-Jeannie LeJoie.jpgAs much as I design with structure in mind, I value those plants that tease, breathe, and enchant.  Roses are the Sarah Bernhardt’s of the garden.  Demanding? oh yes.  Were I to fall in line behind the demands of any plant, roses would rank high on my list.    Rob and Meg came for dinner night before last.  They went round to see the roses. Rob is right.  No plant speaks to romance better than a rose.

June.jpgMy working life is not perfectly organized.  The cold and rainy April, and the late frosts have put me way behind.  I have lots of annual plantings ahead of me-10 days worth-at least.  Every season is what it is.  Last night I went to bed at 7:30, and slept until 6:30 am.    Coming home to the roses representing-delightful.

Carefree-Beauty.jpgCarefree Beauty-this is a shrub rose that was hybridized by Griffith Buck.  I love the big blowsy pink blooms.  I like its hardiness.  Its disease resistance.  I especially appreciate that fresh scent I know as June roses in bloom.

the-garden.jpgThe corgis may not be tall enough to really have a good view of the roses.  But they understand about moments.  Every night, they get to that rose garden ahead of Buck and I.

roses.jpgTwo dogs and two people-we end the day in the company of the roses.  My very small rose garden figures in a very big way in my life.  I don’t mind the effort it takes to cultivate roses.  In my opinion, a garden needs to evoke romance.


  1. Christine Beck says

    You’ve said it all and so eloquently.

  2. I’m so glad you like the Buck rose. Griff Buck and his wife Ruby were friends of my mom and aunt. I met Dr. Buck years ago at Iowa State when I was considering doing another major in horticulture. I have pleasant memories whenever his roses are mentioned. I’m glad his daughter saw them come to market.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Susan, I have been a fan of Carefree Beauty for better than 20 years. In my rose garden, I have alternated Carefree Beauty with Wind Song-also a Bucks rose. I have had so much pleasure from them. He was a rose hybridizer of the best sort. My plants are vigorous, disease resistant-and very floriferous. My Buck roses make me look good. Deborah

  3. Your roses are lovely! I do understand how they represent romance. Your pictures made me smile. Do you get Japanese beetles on the roses next month? If so, how do,you handle this?

  4. Fernando Gomez says

    That’s what’s missing in my life… romance; I mean, roses. 😀 You are right… something about roses that are truly unique and draws us to them. I find myself in a trance gazing upon them. Truly a wonderful creation. I no longer have roses in my landscape sad to say but guess what I’ll be on a hunt for?

    As I may have mentioned before, “love your blog”!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Fernando, you are clearly a garden romantic. Look into choosing a few roses. You won’t be sorry. Deborah

  5. Paula popowski says

    You are so right!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Thanks, Paula. The moment that is the early summer flush of roses-one of my favorites. A rose does for a garden what no other plant can do. Deborah

  6. To you point, I leave on a long international trip in three days. I have five rose bushes and it appears, and I fear, that none will have bloomed before I leave this Friday. In other words, I will miss the roses. Translation: I will miss the romance. Deep down, I know that is why I have been grumpy the last couple days. I never like to miss the romance. xxoo.

  7. I read your post on the romance of the rose…make my comments about being sad to miss the romance in my own garden….then I got in the shower. I spent my whole shower thinking about the romantic imagery of the rose in painting, poetry, and by extension, music.

    I have settled on this example as one of the most potent. Theophile Gautier’s poem entitled “Le spectre de la rose” (The ghost of the rose) set to music by the great 19th century French composers Hector Berlioz. I will let the music and the words speak…

    Oh, the poem. Read this poem !! I can think of no better love letter to the rose.
    Romance, indeed.

    (Sung by Jessye Norman.)

    Open your closed eyelid,
    Brushed by a virginal dream.
    I am the spectre of a rose
    That you wore last night to the ball.

    You took me still pearled
    With the silver tears of the watering can,
    And about the starry fest
    You carried me all evening.

    You who were the cause of my death:
    Powerless to chase it away
    Each night my rose~colored spectre
    Will dance at your bedside.

    But fear nothing: I require
    Neither Mass nor De Profundis.
    This fragile perfume is my soul
    And I come from paradise.

    My lot was to be envied:
    And to have so lovely a fate
    More than one would have given his life;
    For on your breast is my tomb

    And on the alabaster where I rest
    A poet, with a kiss,
    Has written: “Here lies a rose
    To make all the kings jealous.”

    • Deborah Silver says

      Michael, The fragile perfume-love that. Tonight the perfume of the roses was unmistakeable. Paradise, yes.

      • You took me still pearled
        With the silver tears of the watering can

        En francaise…
        Tu me pris encore emperlée
        Des pleurs d’argent de l’arrosoir,

        Too much.

  8. Several years ago I realized, “No roses”.

    Big mistake.

    Now I have tough…. climbing ‘Dortmund’, ‘Marchessa Boccella’ and 2 misnamed from Antique Rose Emporium.

    Alas, dogless for years. It’s pitiful. Work is my excuse but I don’t have that, do I, compared to your work.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  9. Love this post! Your garden is gorgeous and the combination of structure and (what feels like) the wild abandon of your roses heavy with bloom evokes an English garden feeling. toujours l’amour!

  10. I have been reading your blog for a while now, but this one has to be my favorite post! I like very much how you focus your plant choices: boxwoods, yews, roses … ‘smaller’ gardens are indeed so much more difficult to pull off. Very often, inexperienced gardeners over-do it in plant choices and mis-matched colors – the result looks like really bad wallpaper. I also love how the roses are planted massively. Overall, it’s very beautiful. I am sure your garden does look great in the winter too. That is ultimately the true test of a garden. As Jacques Wirtz told me once: if your garden doesn’t look great in the winter, you have no garden at all. Which is so true for the Midwest!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Antoine, good to hear from you. The garden absolutely needs to look good in the winter-and all of the other seasons. Year round structure and interest is what makes for a good garden. You are friendly with Jacques Wirtz? wow! Deborah

  11. Julie Kloecknet says

    I may be your biggest fan ( or one of them) but I seriously recommend everyone read your blog who will listen. It’s still a mystery to me how you even find the time to write before falling into bed exhausted from planting all day !!!
    Anyway, what is the green ‘filmy/whispy’ plant mixed in with your roses ? It kind of looks like maybe asparagus ?

  12. What is the hedge made up of, the hedge that the roses are draping over?

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