Euclid’s Orchard also contains roses

american pillar

The rose came from one of the annual spring plant sales at the Community Hall when we first lived here; you brought your box with you, and you got there early because everyone wanted the tomatoes or irises or Muriel Cameron’s dahlia tubers or bits of Vi Tyner’s roses. I’m not sure this one came from Vi Tyner, who did give me moss roses, a soft pink one and another one deeper pink in colour. But it grows everywhere—old homesteads, seaside gardens, along fences in semi-industrial areas as if remembering a former house, ancient care. It grows across from the Post Office in Madeira Park, for example, and I don’t know if it ever gets pruned or watered. And there’s a place on the highway, near Middlepoint, where one grew for years and years, until it was absorbed by the forest taking over the site of a cabin that I believed burned to the ground before we arrived in 1981. I’d thought a little about trying to identify it but somehow never did.

And somehow today was the day, so I took my rose encyclopedia and a cup of coffee out to the table and went through, page by page. Until I came to ‘American Pillar.’ Bred by Dr.Van Fleet in1902. A very prolific and widespread rose,and yes, it will survive any kind of neglect, it seems.

—from “Ballast”, in Euclid’s Orchard, Mother Tongue Publishing, 2017

new dawn

Some old wood, some new wood, said Daisy Harknett. So I cut pieces with both. I dipped the lower part of the wood in rooting hormone (though I could have used a tea of willow bark) and stuck them into little pots of soil. And now my New Dawns tumble over a beam, a pergola, and the front door of my house. The pear tree, with its heavy crop of honeyed fruit, is lost now forever, consigned to the same fire as the rotting fence posts, the stable door. Yet anyone who ate one of those beauties must surely remember the flavour. I took a bag of them to one of my classes at the University of Victoria in 1974 and handed them around to my classmates. The instructor, an Irish poet of some note, ate a couple of the pears in quick succession and said they were the best he’d ever tasted. Years later he published a memoir with ripe pears in the title, and although I haven’t read it, not yet, I’d like to think it might be an unconscious homage to Daisy’s pears.

— from “Ballast”, in Euclid’s Orchard, Mother Tongue Publishing, 2017

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