A Passalong Plant (for the Garden Bloggers’ Book Club)

I haven’t read the book club’s selection for this month: Passalong Plants by Steve Bender and Felder Rushing (every time lately that I sit still with any open book I pass out cold – it’s spring…) but there’s an invitation to join the club with a story — and as luck would have it, one of Blithewold’s extra special “passalong” plants just started to bloom!Rosa roxburghii (Chestnut rose)

Around the turn of the (20th) century, the Ladies Association of Mount Vernon sold rooted cuttings of a chestnut rose (probably the one called ‘Martha Washington’) as a fundraiser to preserve and restore that property. According to evidence found in Blithewold’s archives, Bessie Van Wickle, a member of The Colonial Dames, visited Virginia around that time and quite probably returned with (at least) one of those roses. Rosa roxburghii (Chestnut rose) bloomThe Rosa roxburghii by the Visitor’s Center is a massive shrub that blooms a clear pink single that a horticulturist at Mount Vernon agreed looks to be the same as theirs. British author, Marion Cran, visited Blithewold in the 1920’s and in her book Gardens in America, commented on Bessie’s chestnut rose – it must have been in bloom when she visited…

Things sometimes come around full circle, and now that Blithewold is a non-profit public garden in need of funds for preservation and restoration, seedlings and cuttings of Bessie’s Chestnut Rose have occasionally been potted up for sale and passed along!

7 thoughts on “A Passalong Plant (for the Garden Bloggers’ Book Club)

  1. Thanks for participating in the Garden Bloggers’ Book Club. That is indeed an enormous rose. I love a plant with a story or history behind it, I think that makes it much more special in the garden.

  2. Thank you for including me, Carol! — Other interesting tidbits about the rose: it was flattened in Hurricane Bob and was wired back together; it’s unscented; and it drops spikey mace-like hips that are murder on a weeder’s knees!

  3. Kris,
    That unidentified object you were holding is probably part of the nest of a paper wasp, sometimes called a red wasp. I have seen them variegated if they use more than one kind of wood to digest and build with. I’m enjoying your blog.

  4. You left a comment on my site about the bottle trees discussed in Passalong Plants. I believe that we should take advantage of the opportunities that this modern age gives us to learn about art and cultures all over the world and incorporate what we take a fancy to in our own lives. Never let it be said that someone isn’t white enough, or black enough, or southern enough, or yankee enough to adopt a fashion, or a habit, or a custom. Let us learn about each other and take the best of what the other has to offer.

  5. Kris: Enjoyed the history of this rose bush. I need to stop by to see it. How long does it bloom?

  6. Gary, Thank you for the i.d. – I suspected waspish industry but was sort of hoping it could have been a mousey ikebana vase or a party hat… It’s destiny now is incorporation in a piece of art by a local artist/garden volunteer.

    Mr. Stevens, that’s just what I wanted to hear! (Pass it along!)

    and Layanee, the chestnut rose blooms are pretty short and sweet – I’m not sure what today’s rain is doing to it (I’ll let you know if it’s done for) but I’d say, come on by as soon as the weather improves!

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