I did not mean to kill the plant when I whacked it back in July as I trudged along with my electric grass-cutter. I do not favor grass – or cutting it. Nor do I put plants around mailboxes, so seeing that I had inherited a rose growing close to the mailbox when we moved to Marietta, Georgia, I made a mental note to move it. So much for mental notes.
Before I got around to moving the plant, I decapitated it with one pull of the string-cutter trigger. Killed it dead. Or so I thought.
Sometime in August, I noticed that familiar burgundy of new rose growth, a vigorous-looking stem thrusting through the grass, which by then had been attacked with my mix of sulfur and aluminum sulfate.
Impervious, the single stem of rose kept on pushing. Before it reached a foot tall, it began budding up. First, one, then another and another bud formed as if it was a normal thing. I marveled each time I went to the mailbox. Soon, a bud became a blossom.
Call it the rose with a heart. The rose with a supreme will to live. By any name it is beautiful. As is its example of survival in the harshest of circumstances.
I am no rose expert, as I acknowledge in this post about Anna Davis, who is an expert. I do, however, love and appreciate the beauty, the fragrance found in so many roses. I have grown a few over the years, but perhaps to the consternation of many, my favorite is the lowly beach rose, aka Rosa rugosa, which I've easily started from cuttings taken from bushes growing, yes, on the beach.
This mailbox rose was the first that came back after apparent death.
I don't know what it looked like in previous summers, but it sure has been a star this year. It loves the camera, and the camera loves it. One day I caught it playing peek-a-boo with the Atlas cedar.
An inner clock guides the rose's life cycle. In just a few weeks I have seen it produce several buds, with first one flowering, then another.
On this single stem, three generations live side by side, and I am watching one generation succeed another. At precisely the right time.
I came to admire this rose so much, that I cut one of the blooms, the one on the left, in the image above, and invited it to dinner. That's it in the photograph at the top of this story. It was the life of the party.
A rose this determined deserved help surviving and thriving. So I decided to free it from the grass surrounding it, as it wasn't dying fast enough – and it was sucking moisture and nourishment from the rose. Now, the rose lives in its own square – which I hope will eventually attract mosses.
Meanwhile, the life of the rose continues to evolve day by day. Each time I go to the mailbox, I take a sniff of its exceptionally sweet fragrance, wishing I knew her name. Then I realize that knowing could not make her smell any sweeter.
In fact, mystery suits her. She who is simply The Rose.