At the End of Their Bloom

The end of the rose season and the end of the day. Glinting sweeps of sun, still, but deep shadows starting to fall across the lawn.

You take what you can get.

Q yellowThe roses that remain are as lovely as the roses that came before them. At Lyndhurst, the historic property in Tarrytown that used to be the domain of robber-baron Jay Gould, that’s a lot of roses. There are 400 varieties arranged in 24 crescent shaped beds in three circles, a color wheel that moves around a central gazebo from white to yellow to red to pink and back to white.



The colors are spectacular at the flowers’ height. Not so much now, late in the season, when you see more bare stalks than blooms. But there is something about loving the last rose. Mr. Lincoln, say, bred by Swim & Weeks in the United States in 1964. The fragrance is massive. I want to wear it on my 60th birthday — five years away, but good to plan.

mr. lincoln

There are only a few buds left on Belle Poitevine, but I love knowing that this hybrid rugosa originated with Francois-Georges-Leon Bruant in 1894. The Swedish Rose Society recommends the plant for northern Sweden.

belle poitevine


Gene Boener, ragged as it is so late in June, reminds me of a rose that had escaped someone’s garden and found its way to my house when I lived in an apple orchard years ago, with the sweetest, spiciest perfume imaginable.

gene boenerThis profusion of flowers is perched on a hill that slopes down to the Hudson River. Jay Gould’s Shangri-La. “I do not believe that since man was in the habit of living on this planet anyone who has ever lived possessed of the impudence of Jay Gould,” said nineteenth-century radical Robert Ingersoll.

lynhurst view


Even Gould, who bragged that “I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half,” couldn’t keep roses alive beyond their season. His daughter founded this garden, putting in old garden roses like Red Dorothy Perkins, bred in 1908, to climb one of the 24 trellises.

dorothy perkins trellisDorothy unfortunately has no scent. And what is a rose without her scent? A later rose is John S. Armstrong, a grandiflora bred by Herbert C. Swim in 1961.

john S. Armstrong

By the time John S. Armstrong got a place in the loam, the rose garden’s upkeep had been passed to Anna Gould, Duchess de Talleyrand-Perigord, in 1938, and then to the Garden Club of Irvington.

A robin hops briskly through the clover and shade moves over half the beds. One fuchsia bloom called Chrysler Imperial, a hybrid tea, has the vague aroma of leather. When you put your face down to smell, watch out that a beetle doesn’t mistake your nose for a flower.



The roses are flaming out.

granadaIt’s time to go home. Duck under the trellis covered with  Kathleen Hybrid Musk, bred in the U.K. in 1922 by Rev. Joseph Hardwick Pemberton. A cross between Daphne, 1912, and Perle des Jardins. Gil’s Lao Tzu tee shirt was a gift from me.

Kathleen hybrid muskNot much left on those stalks climbing the old wooden trellis. But if you love roses, you’ve got to love them when they’re naked aside from their sepals.

kathleenOne of Lao Tzu’s greatest hits, from the Tao Te Ching:

Let there be a small country with few people,

Who, even having much machinery, don’t use it.

Who take death seriously and don’t wander far away.

Even though they have boats and carriages, they never ride in them.

Having armor and weapons, they never go to war.

Let them return to measurement by tying knots in rope.

Sweeten their food, give them nice clothes, a peaceful abode and a relaxed life.

Even though the next country can be seen and its dogs and chickens can be heard,

The people will grow old and die without visiting each others land.







1 Comment

Filed under Culture, History, Home, Jean Zimmerman, Nature

One response to “At the End of Their Bloom


    I’ve nurtured a rose or two and enjoyed them. Clearly… not every rose is every other rose. (I never studied much about what Gertrude Stein meant by writing otherwise.)
    Alice Toklas promoted Gertrude Stein’s famous sentence… she sold plates with it printed all around the edge. Yale University has one (among other things in its attic) …

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