Friday, June 13, 2014

Rose Mentor and Contraband Plants

Margaret MacKenzie will be 98 this year.  Margaret and her late husband Bill lived accross the street from us.  They were there for every big event in our young lives.  We laughed and cried together like family.  When Bill died while at work of a massive heart attack his last words, "Tell Margaret I love her." Margaret loved her roses; she and Bill planted them together, she would tend the garden in her old straw hat, Bills old shirt, an apron and carrying her tin bucket from plant to plant trimming and weeding as she went. 

I was never big on roses in the early years but Margaret convinced me to try a few.  I soon became enthused and added more to my garden.  Margaret showed me how and when to prune them properly, I was hooked.  I joined the rose society and every month Margaret and I would attend the meetings together,  go to rose events and we both trophied at the rose shows.  She was my mentor.

I drove because earlier that year she decided she was getting too old to drive so she sold her car.  A couple years later, she decided it was time to move into a retirement home and sold her little house with all those roses.  Her new apartment is smaller, easily managed and the housekeeping is done for her.  She had to leave most of her things behind, but as she said, "It's only stuff", and she took all she needed.  She told us if there was anything we wanted to just take it.  I picked up a hanging basket which held a plant that had belonged to her mother many years ago.  I asked if she wanted to take it to her new apartment but she said, "You take it, I just don't have room for it." I told her that I would put it in the greenhouse and make a smaller cutting of it for her to have.  She told me that her mother had gone back to Switzerland to visit family in the 50's and she took a little cutting of this plant and hid it in her purse bringing it back home in a little perfume bottle.  Margaret rummaged around and found the bottle, handing it to me saying, "You take this, it's part of it's history".  I did start some cuttings and nursed the original plant back to health and was surprised to have it bloom the most beautiful flowers that next year.  When we took Margaret her new little plant it was also in full bloom, she told us she didn't even know it flowered.  Out in the greenhouse Margaret Mackenzie's mothers contraband plant from Switzerland sits on a little pedestal and next to it sits a little glass perfume bottle.....part of it's history.

Epicactus 'deutsche kaiserin'

 Margaret's old tin bucket sits in the greenhouse as well collecting any trimmings while I work.

   History in the garden.


  1. A lovely story. I hope your wrote it down and put it in the bottle.

  2. Lovely story. Is it some sort of flowering cactus?
    Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! ♥

  3. Looks like what we call Christmas Rose.

  4. Doc, I LOVE this posting, I think the collecting of small but precious memories make blogging thoroughly worthwhile. Margaret MacKenzie has the survivors attitude, travel forward light with no regrets. Clever you for making her history live.
    Give her my best wishes for her 98th birthday!

  5. Bill's death
    How lovely with such a remark at the end
    Quite moving me old son