The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Living the Dream - Not Just Dreaming about Gardening.
In Defense of Hybrid Tea Roses

Bella Roma, not Bell Aroma,
but they are fragrant.

Sassy wanted out again. She loves to sit and watch over her yard. The birds were having a riot in the baths, working the lawn over for more food. Since they took to the trees, I added some cracked corn and water.

My Moline classmate wrote on Facebook, dreaming about gardening in the future. I wrote, "I am living the dream - peas, sunflowers, spinach, and garlic are already planted."

Last winter was different. We had school and the Christmas gathering called off, lots of snow days for the college and public school kids.

Last year - the winter of our discontent.

People have an abundance of opinions about roses, and there are entire clans of roses to plant - miniatures, rugosa, floribunda, David Austen, shrub, etc etc.

Roses are the only plants to have many kinds of fragrance -


  • Myrrh – This imposing scent has the aromatic, licorice warmth of sweet anise. Amongst roses, it is now almost exclusively found in the English Roses (especially the pinks and apricots), although there is an element of it in the fragrance of other plants, such as lilac and hawthorn. The name is believed to derive from Myrrhis odorata(sweet cicely), which has sweet anise-scented leaves. Myrrh is a scent beloved by most, but to some it can be reminiscent of anise seed-based hospital-type, antiseptic creams. Indeed, myrrh serves as an interesting reminder that fragrance preference is subjective. Best examples include: ‘Constant Spry’, ‘Scepter’d Isle’ and ‘Claire Austin’
  • Fruity – The rose is related to many fruits, including apples, pears, raspberries, strawberries and apricots. Fruity notes frequently appear in the fragrances of English Roses of all colors, including those of apple, raspberry, strawberry, pear and lemon and even more exotic lychee and guava. Best examples include: ’Lady Emma Hamilton’ and ‘Jude the Obscure’
  • Musk - Even a small amount of musk rose scent will perfume the air. The source of the romantic scent is frequently the flowers stamens, where it readily shakes off and wafts through the air. Human noses are particularly sensitive to musk so we pick up the scent of even tiny quantities. Musk is most often found in the rambler roses, where huge quantities of single flowers abound with prominent stamens. Best examples include: ‘Snow Goose’ and ‘The Generous Gardener’
  • Old Rose – Breeder David Austin’s own favorite rose fragrance is that of the classic old rose. To him it is the most alluring of all rose perfumes. This is the classic rose fragrance, absolutely delicious, the true “rose” fragrance that everyone loves. It is almost exclusively found in pink and red roses. Best examples include: ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ and ‘Harlow Carr’
  • Tea Rose – Often compared to the aromatic sensation one gets in opening a fresh packet of China Tea, this fragrance is sometimes so strong that other, softer notes only become apparent after the flower matures for a few days. In English Roses, the tea rose scent most frequently appears in the yellow and apricot roses. Best examples include: ‘Graham Thomas’ and ‘Port Sunlight’.



Some gardening experts mock hybrid tea roses for being leggy (long-stemmed) and having enormous blooms and brilliant colors. That is not much of a problem when cutting them and putting them in vases, plastic cups, or even fast-food cups (pop one in the soda straw hole in the lid). 

No one ever complains, "Oh, those are so big, so colorful, and so fragrant. I would really rather have a daisy or a borage flower. I really prefer native flowers." 

I kid one of our Moliners about "native flowers." She has a great love for natural landscapes, native species, and taking stunning photographs. I asked her if she ate native American maize or hybrid sweet corn.

With roses, the hybridizers are simply re-sorting the DNA that God already placed in the rose family. The Persian rose introduced color and blackspot.

Some attempts are to get as far into black as they can, others as blue as they can. Bi-colored roses range from red and white to "ketchup and mustard." I want a rose - not a hotdog.

"Were they out of daisies?"