When Roses Run in the Family

Many families have a dominant trait. A strong jaw, perhaps, or olive skin tone. While physical characteristics are common in families, sometimes it’s what you can’t see that is most deeply-rooted in our genes.

In my family, it’s roses.

When I was four-years-old, my parents and I lived with my grandparents for a summer. I can’t recall how my parents passed that precious time, but I fondly remember traipsing along at my grandfather’s heels as he tended to his enchanting gardens. While he wheeled his garden cart from one bed to the next, I sat mesmerized by the wall of climbing roses trained along the stone exterior of their house. Even the best picture book illustrations were no match for grandpa’s garden.

Roses: My Family's History

Tending roses came naturally to my grandpa; his own grandfather, August Peter, was known throughout Wisconsin and beyond as an amateur rose gardener between 1920 and 1950. In 1928, he even penned a chapter in the American Rose Annual Book about protecting roses through the bitter winter months. I secured a copy of the publication a few years ago and when I’m cozied up in a corner reading through it, I can’t help but imagine him sitting right alongside me, sharing his wisdom word for word.

Over the last four years, we’ve cultivated over 12 types of roses here at Wheels 2 Fields. Most of these roses are in our formal fenced rows, with two beautiful climbers (Teasing Georgia and Graham Thomas) rambling up our house. Typically, we purchase our roses for their beauty and scent, but three of the rose varieties were sought out for their names: Benjamin Britten, Jude the Obscure, and Maria Mathilda, each sharing a name with one of our three children.

For 2022, we plan on purchasing a variety of bare root roses in hopes of creating a secret garden, similar to what I imagine my great-great-grandfather, August Peter, must have created with his beloved blooms. With shrub roses, ramblers and arbors full of climbers, we'll allow the garden to grow wild and beautiful while also providing habitat for birds and pollinators.

Both my grandfather and great-great-grandfather have given me something lofty to aspire to. As I navigate my own garden with the cart I inherited from my grandpa, I look forward to watching his influence take shape in my own family’s fields.

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