Thursday, May 31, 2007

An Heirloom, A Rose and A Legacy


1. A piece of property that descends to the heir as an inseparable part of an inheritance of real property;

2. Something of special value handed on from one generation to another;

3. A horticultural variety that has survived for several generations usually due to the efforts of private individuals.

Last night my sweetheart and I sat with my mother on her backyard deck to enjoy the calm of a warm Spring evening together. Nearby, an incredibly gorgeous old-fashioned heirloom rose spread its branches and crowned her yellow woodshed with its grace. I was totally enthralled by the sight of the rose and I remembered that somehow it had a connection to my great-grandmother who was called "Nanny" by everyone who knew her. My mother shared this story with us.

In 1900 her grandmother, Nanny, wanted a rose for her yard. One day she heard that a man had come to her town with a wagon full of roses. So Nanny walked to the center of town carrying her baby and with her toddler son walking beside her. She carefully made her decision, purchased her rose, returned home and lovingly planted it beside her little house. Through the years she tended it with great care until it grew taller than the house and sprawled across the roof. Later, my grandfather built a home next to Nanny's house for his bride - my grandmother. My mother grew up in that home. My mother's bedroom window faced the side of Nanny's house and the rose that was only known as "Nanny's rose". She said as a young child she often stood at her window to admire the beautiful rose that she dearly loved because it belonged to her Nanny, a very special person in her life.

Nanny has been gone for many years now and the little house she lived in most of her life was torn down long ago and replaced with apartments. Shortly before her house was torn down my uncle carefully took pieces of the rose for himself and for my mother. I don't remember when Mom planted it beside her woodshed outside the kitchen window of the home my father built for us. It seems it has been there forever. Until a few years ago it was nearly impossible to buy this rose variety. Through the years, many people have visited Mom's backyard and carefully taken starts so they, too, could enjoy its beauty.

I have always loved this rose but even more now that I know the story. The legacy of the rose touched my heart as I heard the details. On a warm spring evening more than 100 years after my dear Nanny planted her rose I admired it in a special place far away from where it began to charm several generations of my family. Before our conversation ended my mother turned to me and said, "When the day comes that you must sell my house, please take a piece of "Nanny's Rose" and grow it somewhere near you so it will continue to be a part of our family legacy." Today I value the rose more than ever before and I consider it to be one of treasures of my heart -- not because I love roses but because of the dear people through the years who have loved the rose and have loved me, too.

Photo: "Nanny's Rose" (Veilchenblau Heirloom Rambler Rose)


  1. Beautiful story, and what a legacy for your family. B

  2. What a lovely story--and a fantastic, organic piece of your family history!

  3. I never knew that a rose bush had a life span of over 100 years!
    Thank you for sharing your story & the beautiful photos.

  4. This is a very unusual heirloom legacy. How lovely, though ! You are never far away from the loved once, who have moved on. That is so heartwarming. Best wishes Dana


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