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.
The 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.
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.
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.
This 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.
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.
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.
It’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.
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.