Almost every city and town has one. It can be very elaborate and cared for by a team of professional gardeners, or it may be the product of a community group or a single individual. Of course I am talking about the “rose garden.”
In my estimation, the rose garden in my hometown is one of the largest and most beautiful. Schenectady, New York, has less than 66,000 residents right now, and it is a typical old East Coast city in decline. But its rose garden is very elaborate with a flowing stream, pine trees around its edges, and a stone bridge that is adorned every weekend on the hour by bridal parties. Schenectady is a Mohawk word which is loosely translated as “near the pines.” It is in eastern New York, near the confluence of the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers.
I know this particular rose garden well because it was a backdrop for my father’s wedding and portrait photography business. Not only did he creatively photograph hundreds of brides and grooms there, every year my brothers and I would have to lean against a rustic fence or trellis in the midst of the thorns and roses for our family portrait.
When I visited my parents in their retirement years, we always made a pilgrimage to Schenectady’s Central Park to take pictures of the roses. I never ceased to enjoy it. But the one great feature that San Francisco’s rose garden has over Schenectady’s and almost every rose garden in the world is the summer fog. It provides the best light for viewing and photographing roses, and quite often the fog produces a heavy mist or drizzle that creates on each petal effervescent beads of water strung like priceless pearls.
Think about the places where roses grew in your childhood. Don’t they bring back memories that are peaceful and filled with the beauty of Americana? While I thought about providing firework pictures for you in this first week of July, I chose instead this other American summer icon. This particular rose may be a new variety, or simply new to me; it is called “rainbow sorbet.”
The San Francisco Rose Garden in Golden Gate Park really complements the 4th of July celebrations as each bloom produces an explosion of natural “fireworks” in a variety of colors. To date, there are more than 60 rose beds planted in the garden, each of which comes from the creativity of commercial growers. A collection of dedicated locals, however, tend the roses, pruning them and picking the weeds. The tall Eglantine rosebushes are presently bursting with a fiery combination of red and orange.
So, here’s to the red, white and blue (well, maybe velvet violet instead of blue), the colors of this coming weekend’s celebration.
Some of the other creative names for roses in the garden are Broadway, Walking on Sunshine, Honey Perfume, Pink Promise, Kaleidoscope, Strike it Rich, Lavender Lassie, Sally Holmes, Dream Come True, and Sweet Briar.
Give thanks for the fog and the drizzle, and don’t forget to use some of these mornings to walk among the roses either in your garden, around your neighborhood or in our parks.It’s a cliché, I know – but a good one: “Stop, and smell the roses” — the Hope, the Peace, the American Beauty!