My oncologist refused to give me chemo. He said I was too fragile. This wasn’t what I wanted to hear.
I was trying to convince myself that I wasn’t fragile when Teddie pointed out that we hadn’t been taking our twice daily walks to the gate. My fifteen minutes each day of walking in the house, which I had replaced the outside walks with, had fallen to 5 minutes. I resolved to build my strength by increasing my daily walks, eventually walking down to the gate again. Once I do this, I will be strong enough for chemo.
When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I was absorbed in the collecting and conserving rare roses. My dear Max left me in 2010, and I was once again a widow. My collection of roses offered comfort. They were a reminder of the beauty of life, the role of memories and being remembered, and the importance of moving forward with something meaningful. My intent to save rare Ramblers became even more purposeful. I continued my travels to gardens around the world seeking out early American hybrids long lost to commerce in the US and brought them home. I also imported several others from areas not yet closed to importation and expanded my quarantine area to accommodate these history filled vessels of unique genetic material. My goal was to make all of the rare roses as common as possible to assure their survival. I follow, and my family will follow, a rose conservation plan of 3, 3, 30 in which you place every rare rose in 3 commercial nurseries, 3 public gardens, and 30 private gardens. I kept detailed notes where these roses were placed so that there were always back ups if they failed.
One of the places that accepted my offer of roses was the Chambersville Tree Farm in Texas, championed by Claude Graves. I sent cuttings of the Ramblers I had at that time to Dr. Malcolm Manners at Florida Southern College to propagate for the rose garden in Chambersville. In 2014, they invited me to give a presentation at the dedication of the new Anne Belovich Garden. Having a garden in my name was certainly an honor but I was very pleased to know that my Rambler collection had a duplicate set growing in another part of the United States. Toward the end of my first chemotherapy round in 2016, I had my son, Rick, and grandson, Steven, take cuttings from my last imports coming out of quarantine and then take the plants to Chambersville.
This past winter Texas experienced unusually cold temperatures. I was worried about the roses but Claude informed me that he had been diligent in his care and only lost a few. We should be able to replace those with plants here eventually. A few weeks later he gave me the wonderful news that the American Rose Center Committee in Shreveport voted to replicate my collection of roses at Chambersville for a new rose garden at the American Rose Society Headquarters in Shreveport. Claude also made sure that members of the Dallas Area Historical Rose Society who visited Chambersville last summer received cuttings of the most endangered roses in my collection. Claude is well on his way to meeting the goal of the 3, 3, 30 rose conservation plan.
To save the rare roses we need to give them away. The Chambersville story demonstrates this, from one duplication to several and a growing network of replacements.
You will also find my roses in commerce and in backyards. For a while I opened my private gardens to the public, by appointment, so that people could get cuttings and plant them. I understand that not all people would want or be able to invite people to their homes, but giving cuttings to family and close friends still helps save the roses and perhaps strengthen relationships. I have had to close my gardens to the public because of my illness, but hope to open again next year if I am feeling better. Rick and Teddie tell me that we need to do some maintenance before this happens.
I have many friends who have worked to save roses by volunteering their time in each other’s yards or at heritage rose sites. Some have been involved in importing these rare gems. It is important that we make sure that we have a plan in place for when we are no longer able to take care of our gardens.