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Growing fair roses and tender children*

July 22, 2014

When I wrote about my flower garden recently, built by friendships, my youngest daughter pointed out I had left out her rose bush.

P1050925Doreen, at a much younger age, pointing to our lovely red tulips.

True. I felt it was a separate story, one that I am equally proud of, but it deserved its own post.

I could say that Doreen has always shown an interest in nature and flowers but then, all of my girls love flowers and will one day likely be even more knowledgeable and eager in this department than me.

P1050926Top to bottom: Michelle, 8; Tanya, 6;  Doreen, 3.

But Doreen was the one to bargain for a little flower garden of her own, and even purchased and planted her own rose bush sometime while she was in middle or high school. I was always worried I didn’t have a green enough thumb to grow roses, but she plunged right in.

P1050931The first home for the rose bush. It had a nice rustic look, but too shady. I always wondered about the age/history on those old wagon wheels we inherited with the place, but never found out.

After we planted the rose, we realized it needed more sun than the shady nook behind a garden shed provided, so we moved it behind the house.

I warned her that it might not survive the move, but she wanted to try it anyway. Over the years I had planted many different flowers there, trying to figure out what worked best. The white rose bush flourished, and my daughter dug up this photo from her collection.


When we moved to our current home in 2007, of course the white rose bush moved along, I believe the only plant which we brought along—the first bush and landscaping at our new home.ImportJan2014 312

So it has survived several moves already, and I am the current happy host of the lovely white flower bush she chose, although it has had its ups and downs (bugs, holes in leaves).

P1050963(It began blooming again yesterday, but can anyone tell me what to do for the rusty edges on the petals??)

It will likely have to survive more moves if it is to follow her to where she eventually settles in a non-rental location. I was just happy it eked out this past winter, as my other rose bush succumbed to the cold (and I was negligent and did not cover it with straw as she always did so carefully).

ImportJan2014 311My formerly lovely knock out rose bush (modified, the blooms were always bigger than most knock out roses)
which did not survive Virginia’s harsh winter.

Doreen has also become an avid gardener—although I hate parental typecasting of one’s children and will not rule out where my other daughters go in this area, who are happily focused on raising babies right now. For instance, I did not start out loving gardening, and was mostly a “we-garden-to-eat” variety of gardener. But I confess that now that we have a garden which is very close to our back deck, on level land and where the weeds are visible from my kitchen window, I’m taking some joy and satisfaction (and a little cursing of bugs) in almost daily work and exercise in our patch which is really much too big for a pair of empty nesters.

P1050934Doreen posing with our gigantic corn stalks (Silver Queen) a few years back,
(10 or more), in our old garden at the bottom of a big hill.

My point here is two fold: to celebrate Doreen’s interest in nature and the career path she has followed into environmental science.

DoreensResearchFieldsDoreen more recently in one of the fields where she studied habitat at urban/forest edges for her master’s degree in urban ecology.

It’s also a reminder not to fall into the parent trap of bragging up a child “oh this kid has always loved swimming, she is so good” when another child is going (in her head), “well Mom, I love swimming too and I’m not that bad” or whatever their interest, sport or hobby. We tend to classify and stereotype: “Timmy has always loved cooking even when he was small,” and Bobby is thinking, “I like baking too …” Or “Tiffany was always so good at math,” yada yada.

Whether it is skills, grades, looks, or mischievousness, or whatever, no one wants to be cast into a mold. Our children are great and tender gifts, as beautiful and sensitive to their environment as any flower or rose, and deserving of our best support. We want them to “grow and be strong in spirit,” like Luke says of both John the Baptist and of Jesus.


Did your parents typecast and stereotype? Do you do that? Or am I the only one who ever felt that way?
Do you wish there was someone you could tell: stop typecasting me!


*The name for my blog post today inspired by the the novel Fair and Tender Ladies by Lee Smith.


Somehow this all reminds me of an earlier book I wrote, Why Didn’t I Just Raise Radishes, published by Herald Press in the early ’90s, not a book on gardening but meditations on the challenges of raising children. You can still buy it used online. And no, that is not a picture of me on the cover. 🙂



From → Faith, Family Life, Nature

  1. How blessed you are to have flowers in the garden and “flower children” to boot along with documentation in photos and anecdotes to prove it. I can tell you enjoyed writing this post and now you have evened things up with your daughters. No? Ha!

    We have a son and daughter, polar opposites in so many ways I don’t have to worry too much about comparisons with them.

    By the way, I have but one rose bush here in Florida. It is a hybrid with peach, yellow, and scarlet blooms. The roses you see on my blog posts and Facebook pages come from this solitary bush. Sorry I can’t help you with the leaf-hole problem.

    About stereo-types and typecasts – I was the oldest and shouldered with a lot of responsibility growing up. My aunt, my first teacher and mentor, favored me in many ways. Lately my sisters I have talked about the burden of being the favorite. Their conclusion I’m happy to say: It’s not my fault that my aunt favored me. Great post, once again, Melodie.

    • That would make a great topic for a post: the burden of being favored. Your polar opposites children issue is interesting too. Then there’s the topic of how can you keep adult children from growing apart. I appreciate the way you interact with content and ideas–I don’t always take enough time to dig deeper.

  2. Caro - Claire Wiles permalink

    Another great post Melodie and I loved to hear about Doreen’s interest in flowers even from a child and how it has led her on into her career.
    I know with our own children, that they all had their own strengths and weaknesses and I think we tried as best we could to recognize each one for who they were.
    Thanks again for sharing this story and the wonderful picture you had to go along with it

    • Someone told me recently she wasn’t interested in raising children like “she had been raised,” she wanted to raise them better. While my parents had strengths and weaknesses too, I don’t think I would really seek to raise kids better than I’d been raised. I think we were very privileged. Anyway, some more thoughts to rumble around with. 🙂

      • Caro-Claire Wiles permalink

        I can look back on the way we raised our children and there were some similarites to how we were raised as children and we had some of our own that we tried out as well.
        In retrospect, we can always look back and see where we may have messed up but on the whole I think we did the best we could and hopefully our grown children now can look back and not be bruised by their childhood memories as is so foten the case these days with so many fractured families.

  3. Athanasia permalink

    Well, just about everyone assumed I would be a teacher, like my parents. But I never felt a call to that schooling. I do work in a school though, but as the librarian. My parents never charted our course for us, it was up to us. They laid the groundwork, and a very good one at that. 3 of my 4 brothers did become teachers…you know I think we just all really like having the summer off!!

    • Athanasia permalink

      Say Melodie, do you know why my comment on the cucumbers post says “awaiting moderation”? Curious.

    • That’s a good reason to become a teacher. Ha! I had picked up somewhere (on another blog maybe?) you were a librarian. Sounds like good parents!

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