Thursday, May 31, 2007 | | Garden Bloggers' Book Club
I haven’t read the book club’s selection for this month: Passalong Plants by Steve Bender and Felder Rushing (every time lately that I sit still with any open book I pass out cold – it’s spring…) but there’s an invitation to join the club with a story — and as luck would have it, one of Blithewold’s extra special “passalong” plants just started to bloom!
Around the turn of the (20th) century, the Ladies Association of Mount Vernon sold rooted cuttings of a chestnut rose (probably the one called ‘Martha Washington’) as a fundraiser to preserve and restore that property. According to evidence found in Blithewold’s archives, Bessie Van Wickle, a member of The Colonial Dames, visited Virginia around that time and quite probably returned with (at least) one of those roses. The Rosa roxburghii by the Visitor’s Center is a massive shrub that blooms a clear pink single that a horticulturist at Mount Vernon agreed looks to be the same as theirs. British author, Marion Cran, visited Blithewold in the 1920’s and in her book Gardens in America, commented on Bessie’s chestnut rose – it must have been in bloom when she visited…
Things sometimes come around full circle, and now that Blithewold is a non-profit public garden in need of funds for preservation and restoration, seedlings and cuttings of Bessie’s Chestnut Rose have occasionally been potted up for sale and passed along!