Human Flower Project

Trailed by Roses

Georgia Silvera Seamans hasn’t sought out roses, but they’ve been quietly accompanying her since childhood. Where will the next rose-companion turn up?


A volunteer works in the flower beds “Tuesdays with Roses” at Kelleher Rose Garden 2011, Boston

Photo: Kelleher Rose Garden

By Georgia Silvera Seamans

Whenever I think about the plants I would like in a garden, roses never make my short list. Yet, roses have been a meaningful feature of many gardens and yards in my life.

My mother tended roses in our yard in Jamaica.  The roses, I recall, were deep red and grew among the croton hedge.  This area of the front yard often served as the backdrop for family photographs.

imageClimbing rose, rejuvenated by pruning in Berkeley, California.

Photo: Georgia Silvera Seamans/Local Ecology

My boyfriend (now husband) and I lived in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston.  We held a plot in the Fenway Victory Gardens part of the Back Bay Fens.  The backdrop of our plot was a dense lilac hedge, not roses, but the Kelleher Rose Garden lies within the Fens and is quite close to the bench where my husband proposed to me.

The apartment my husband and I rented in Berkeley, California, came with several micro-plots of land. In the plot outside the kitchen window grew a large rose bush. I remember being devastated the first time it was pruned.  A landscape crew cut it down almost to the ground—the bush was taller than me (I am 5’ 6”) but it grew back, taller, wider, and full of small pink flowers.

imageToday’s roses, retrieved in New York City as an older garden is “renovated.”

Photo: Georgia Silvera Seamans/Local Ecology

I now live in New York City, without a yard or even a balcony.  Fortunately, a 1.5 acre garden sits between the two long buildings that form my apartment complex.  The garden was completed in 1959 and was designed by the young landscape architecture firm of Sasaki, Walker and Associates.  Until last week, many rose bushes grew in the garden.  Several were removed while the three growing along the trellis were pruned only.  These actions were part of a long overdue garden maintenance plan.  I have been told that some of the roses and other plants in the garden were planted by green thumb residents over the years.  My son especially enjoyed smelling the roses and picking and playing with the rosehips.  I walked through the garden on the day the last of the roses were being removed and asked one of the landscape crew if he could cut some of the flowers for me.  I brought them home and placed them among a fading bouquet of daises.  I love the way these roses drape, unlike the ramrod straight roses sold in most flower shops and grocery stores. 

I wonder: which place will be the setting for my next rose tale?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/02 at 09:24 AM


Thank you Julie—I really like the title.

p.s. James and Renee’s article about live oaks is included in the latest Festival of the Trees at

Posted by Georgia on 11/02 at 11:35 AM
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