It was nice out today, and I decided to go to Longwood Gardens. It was the farthest distance that I’d driven at one time since I broke my ankle, but I did okay.
They had a couple of scooters there when I got there, so I got one. I had my walking cast and my cane, just in case I needed to walk. I wouldn’t have gone very far if that was the case. I found an accessible way to get to the Flower Garden Walk, but there wasn’t much left there – a few evergreens and grasses that usually serve as background.
I went up to the Peirce-duPont house. I sat for a time in the conservatory there. That’s the kind of conservatory I’d like to have if I had tons of money. I didn’t go on the tour, as I’ve done that several times before, and it has steps, but I like just sitting there.
The East Conservatory entrance and surrounding area is complete, finally, after years of construction. There are turf rows of seating down to the entrance area, so it could be a little stage. The entrance itself is the same, but I saw what looked like another greenhouse off of it. It turned out to be a hallway with long rows of bathrooms. It’s not a bad idea, especially around their busy Christmas season, and they do have plants making a “green wall” along the sides of the hall, but I was hoping for something more like a cool new conservatory.
The Chrysanthemum Festival is still going strong. There’s a big chrysanthemum “tree” as you enter the East Conservatory, and chrysanthemums all over the East and Main Conservatories, and around the Exhibition Hall. I looked to see if the waterlily ponds were all covered up, and they were still open. I was surprised, but I went out. The waterlilies were still blooming. I was glad I’d gotten another chance to see them before they were done.
They’re still doing the fragrance theme for the year. Various plants had their little purple “I’m fragrant!” signs. An exhibit-placard display in the hall for inside roses mentioned the rose rustlers and G. Michael Shoup. I’m surprised they didn’t mention Pam Puryear, but I’m sure those interested could look further into it. You understand the story behind it much better if you’ve read Shoup’s Landscaping with Antique Roses or Antique Roses for the South by William Welch.
There, where the roses are grown as they would have been for the cut-flower trade, and are generally unscented cultivars, those few you can get to to sniff, they talked about rose fragrances. The little exhibit also had buttons you could press to compare the fragrances of a heirloom rose and a modern rose. The heirloom one turned out to be the one with the better and stronger scent. I don’t think they said which it was that they’d made the fragrance mister from.
Sure, there are a lot of scentless modern roses. Kordes is one breeder who concentrates much more on hardiness and disease-resistance, with fragrance as a far afterthought, if a thought at all. Many other breeders concentrated just on the flower form. There are some notable exceptions to that trend in modern roses, though, like ‘Fragrant Cloud’, ‘Alec’s Red’, ‘Tropicana’, ‘Perfume Delight’, and a few dozen others. David Austin has fragrance as one of the attributes he wants in a rose, and has introduced some nicely fragrant ones. Some of his are “myrrh-scented,” it’s called. If it’s the same scent as ‘Belle Isis’ has, I very much like that scent.
They had scented-leaf geraniums in various spots along the corridor that has the bonsai. They had apricot, and ginger, one type of the various rose cultivars, and a few other sorts.
The tropical garden was being misted as I went through it – mist was coming down from the ceiling. I guess that’s how they keep it the suitable humidity for the bromeliads and earth stars and such.
I’d gone through the orchid room before, on my first pass-through, but I detoured a bit to go through it again. It’s perhaps my favorite room of all in the conservatories. I was surprised by how accessible the conservatories were by scooter. I could even get through the Mediterranean Garden.
Since the waterlilies were still doing their thing, I decided to look at the rose garden, the little formal one, not the one by the Hillside Garden. Those roses were still blooming, and a couple of them had their “I’m fragrant!” signs. One that wasn’t should have had an “I’m pretty!” sign, I thought, because it was. I wondered what the tall red roses that had such a fine damask rose fragrance were, then saw the ‘Mr. Lincoln’ sign. Naturally. Mine hasn’t bloomed since I brought it home from Home Depot two (?) years ago, but then, I didn’t do much with it, either. I was very surprised to find out a few days ago that it still had a live cane.
I headed back to the Visitors’ Center and returned my scooter. I decided to look in the gift shop and see if they had any scented geraniums there. That’s where I’d gotten the ‘Candy Dancer’ one in the spring. No scented geraniums this time. There were tuberous begonias, but I had already gotten a couple at [local independent garden center], for about the same price, I think. There were a few chrysanthemums, and other things, but I refrained from bringing more plants home.
I went to look at books, and got Bulbs in the Basement, Geraniums on the Windowsill: How to Grow and Overwinter 165 Tender Plants. I don’t actually have 165 this year, although I’m sure it feels like it to Mom. I’m sure I’ve killed off at least 165 in my time. Perhaps I should think of it as they didn’t choose to live on a windowsill, although there were a lot of casualties from me forgetting to water them.
I found my car, and also found that I’d forgotten to put my handicapped placard up. Fortunately, I didn’t have a ticket, and, also fortunately, it was still there and hadn’t been towed.
I decided that since I was sort of in the area, I’d stop at [enormous used bookstore] as well. I wasn’t sure about managing the steps, so I mostly just looked at the gardening books. I’m always hoping to find rose books from the 19th or early 20th centuries, to know which ones were popular then. I found Dean Hole's A Book About Roses there once, so you never know. It's up in my room. I have the Google Library edition in my e-book folder. I found it on Google a few years after I got it in print.
One of the ladies who works there offered to follow me up the steps if I wanted to go upstairs, as a reassurance of sorts. I decided I didn’t feel that ambitious about going to the second, third or fourth floors that day, but I thanked her. She told me about how she’d broken her knee and ankle, and shattered her tibia. I said I had plates and screws in my ankle. She said she had plates and such in her leg as well. I would imagine so.
I went back to the gardening books, and found the two-volume set Perennials, by Martyn and Rix. They’re the ones who do the books with the most gorgeous photographs, and it was $18 for the two books. Now I have Perennials to go along with Annuals and Biennials, which I just got, and Roses, which I’ve had for years. It’s the old edition of Roses. I’ll get the newer edition at some point. The old one has some sentimental value for me, as I based my tattoo on the ‘Dove’ rose photograph. The tracing is much the same in outline and detail, though the rose tattoo is pink, not white as the rose is.
I think it was good for me to get out of the house on a nice day, and go to a garden. I was relatively restrained with the shopping. I think Mom might have done me some damage if I’d come home with any more plants. It’s somewhat less obvious when more books wander in.