JARS v46n3 - The First But Not The Last

The First But Not The Last
Merle Sanders
Roseburg, Oregon

Hi! My name is 'The Hon. Jean Marie de Montague' and I was the first one in the garden. I am thankful that I am not the last. My owner told his wife he wanted a bright red rhody, you know, like the ones you see all over town. Well, I was it and life hasn't always been good. Oh, when I was first planted, it was very nice. I was planted in top soil with lots of sawdust worked in. There were about eight of us in the first planting. I really can't remember how many of us are left alive - what with zero-degree weather, not much fertilizer, then lots of fertilizer.

When I grew the next year, I was so puny, I just flopped - so I was cut back. Then there were all those worthless moles around my roots. Well, you see, this all took its toll.

But let's move along to some happier moments. My lady owner read an article in Sunset magazine about a man named Harold Greer who had a nursery in Eugene. So off they went and brought home lots of friends for us. That was good news, I thought, but my man owner plopped these poor souls into the ground in nickel holes. Some of them died. They didn't even get a decent burial - into the fire they went. Well, at least they were dead so I guess it didn't matter.

The next think I knew, the folks had joined the ARS. That had to be better, because things really weren't going well. The fertilizer was next to nothing and the hose they used to give us a drink was always wrapped around us, and most of the time it only came when we wilted. I really can't blame him too much since he was a logger and didn't have much time.

Lo and behold! One day some little cousins were tucked in alongside us here and there. The folks met Dr. Forrest Bump from Forest Grove about that time and he gave them lots of cuttings. The garden was expanded quite considerably to accommodate 80 new friends. Some were our ancestors - they call them species.

There was whispering that some marriages were being arranged. I really was upset - they didn't even consult me! Sure enough, that spring several marriages took place, though none for me. These marriages proved very successful, I guess, because next spring a lot of cousins were planted in among us, and the older ones stepped out on their own. This stirred up quite a lot of excitement. The following year it happened - buds were set and we couldn't wait until spring to see what beautiful cousins we would have. Beauties they were! First a deep pink, followed by a cream, darker creams with freckles, light pinks and even a white with a maroon blotch that was slightly fragrant.

Suddenly our owner went mad, performing marriages right and left - mostly with the newer friends, never with me! But things were looking up; no longer were we thirsty or hungry. We were now being fed 20-12-8 three times a year and an automatic watering system was installed so that we got water every night as we needed it. Wow! Paradise!

Our new cousins sure came along at the right time to enjoy good food and water. And don't let me forget to be thankful for the mulch put into this hard ground and the spraying several times a year to kill off the bugs and weevils.

But what gets to me is that the owner married some of my friends several times. Oh, where have morals gone? Especially 'Nancy Evans' who was married at least six times last year - but ha! ha! one failed. The whispering goes on and I have heard - don't tell anyone - that I am going to be wed next spring. I always love spring weddings, but I want you to know, I have good morals and won't allow him to marry me off more than once. I know my children will be prize winners - he will be proud of the first rhody he bought; and thank goodness, I wasn't the last because otherwise I'd not have been married at all.