ShareThis Page
Home & Garden

Grandma's rose is gardener's most precious gift

Doug Oster
| Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018, 8:35 p.m.
Marsha Kennedy of Wilkins Township, near Pittsburgh, has a garden of pollinator-friendly plants and roses that belonged to her grandmother and uncle.
Doug Oster | Tribune-Review
Marsha Kennedy of Wilkins Township, near Pittsburgh, has a garden of pollinator-friendly plants and roses that belonged to her grandmother and uncle.
Marsha Kennedy's garden is filled with plants that attract pollinators along with treasured roses passed down from her family. A monarch caterpillar feeds on a milkweed plant.
Doug Oster | Tribune-Review
Marsha Kennedy's garden is filled with plants that attract pollinators along with treasured roses passed down from her family. A monarch caterpillar feeds on a milkweed plant.
Marsha Kennedy of Wilkins Township, near Pittsburgh, has a garden of pollinator-friendly plants and roses that belonged to her grandmother and uncle. This is her grandmother's rose, the variety is 'Crimson Velvet.'
Doug Oster | Tribune-Review
Marsha Kennedy of Wilkins Township, near Pittsburgh, has a garden of pollinator-friendly plants and roses that belonged to her grandmother and uncle. This is her grandmother's rose, the variety is 'Crimson Velvet.'
Marsha Kennedy of Wilkins Township, near Pittsburgh, has a garden of pollinator-friendly plants and roses that belonged to her grandmother and uncle. This is her grandmother's rose, the variety is 'Crimson Velvet.'
Doug Oster | Tribune-Review
Marsha Kennedy of Wilkins Township, near Pittsburgh, has a garden of pollinator-friendly plants and roses that belonged to her grandmother and uncle. This is her grandmother's rose, the variety is 'Crimson Velvet.'
Marsha Kennedy of Wilkins Township, near Pittsburgh, has a garden of pollinator-friendly plants and roses that belonged to her grandmother and uncle. This phlox is in full bloom.
Doug Oster | Tribune-Review
Marsha Kennedy of Wilkins Township, near Pittsburgh, has a garden of pollinator-friendly plants and roses that belonged to her grandmother and uncle. This phlox is in full bloom.
Marsha Kennedy of Wilkins Township, near Pittsburgh, has a garden of pollinator-friendly plants and roses that belonged to her grandmother and uncle.
Doug Oster | Tribune-Review
Marsha Kennedy of Wilkins Township, near Pittsburgh, has a garden of pollinator-friendly plants and roses that belonged to her grandmother and uncle.
Marsha Kennedy's garden is filled with plants that attract pollinators along with treasured roses passed down from her family. A monarch butterfly enjoys time on a butterfly bush in her garden.
Doug Oster | Tribune-Review
Marsha Kennedy's garden is filled with plants that attract pollinators along with treasured roses passed down from her family. A monarch butterfly enjoys time on a butterfly bush in her garden.

Marsha Kennedy is warming up to her hydrangea after she's finally coaxed it to bloom in hues of purple. It's her favorite color, which is evident by her hummingbird print T-shirt and the purple tint in her hair.

Her Wilkins Township garden is filled with pollinator plants like milkweed, coneflower, phlox, monarda, borage and many more, but the most important plants aren't in bloom right now. The roses handed down from her grandmother and uncle mean the most to her.

Sitting on her front porch with her husband Burt, she points to her grandmother's rose.

Fond memories

"That is over 50 years old," she says proudly. "It means everything to me. It is the best smelling rose and when it blooms, it's grandma, she's right there." Kennedy learned to garden as a child from her grandmother and mother. Since both of her parents worked while she was growing up, she spent countless hours at her grandmother's house that was only four blocks away.

"She grew that rose in the corner of her yard for many years," the 68-year-old Kennedy says.

She has fond memories of time spent in that garden while growing up. One year her grandmother threw old potatoes into the plot and they took, providing a great harvest. "I hate rhubarb," Kennedy says with a smile, "but I ate it raw with grandma."

She married Burt in 1978 and a year later got an unexpected gift. "Grandma said, 'Come get this rose and plant it at your house.'"

It's been blooming there ever since.

Kennedy inherited the love of gardening from her family and it shows in the immaculate, colorful landscape. Time in the garden is therapeutic for her and an important part of Kennedy's life.

"It's peace, it is where I get peace of mind, peace of heart," she says.

Hard, but satisfying, work

It's hard work, but rewarding, and time alone in the garden is precious.

"When I come out here and I know I'm going to work for a couple of hours, I tell my husband don't call me in unless somebody's dead," she says with a laugh. "If it's somebody I didn't care about, don't bother."

Yellow and green striped monarch caterpillars chew on their host milkweed plants. The adult orange and black butterflies flit across the purple flowers of a butterfly bush. Red bee balm (monarda) plants sway in the breeze and are filled with good bugs feeding on nectar in the blooms. Every season brings it challenges, and this year the deer have been a problem for her, eating things they normally don't. The physical work gets harder and harder, too.

"Forty years ago, I was hauling stones," Kennedy reminisces. "I can't do that anymore."

Over the years, she's learned what works for the space by trial and error. One mistake was planting a trumpet vine too close to the house. While reading an article about a gardener who had their garage floor buckled by the invasive underground roots of the vine, she reacted instantly.

"I started yelling at Burt, 'we got to get it out of there,'" she says, duplicating both the tone and volume of the original response.

Precious gifts

Over the years she learned about propagating roses from her uncle Bob. He gave her plants like 'Popcorn' and 'Brass Band,' among others. He became an expert in roses while living in South Carolina, where he made new roses from old roses. After becoming ill, he moved back to Altoona, bringing his precious roses with him. On a visit, he gave Kennedy five different plants and all of his reference books related to rose growing.

"I cried the whole way home to Pittsburgh with all his books in my lap thinking, 'Does he know he's going to go?' It was three years later that he died," Kennedy says sadly.

She treasures the important relationship between these plants and her past, as these roses are living family heirlooms.

"It's a connection," she says. "Burt has often talked about, 'What if we move? What if we can't do this anymore?'

"I said, 'We better be able to take the roses. I'm not leaving that house without my grandmother's rose.' "

Article by Doug Oster, Everybody Gardens

http://www.everybodygardens.com

Copyright © 535media, LLC

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me