How a Special Rose Brought a Family Together

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By Dr. Charlotte Nutt

The allure of roses is as old as recorded history.

A carefully and well-tended structure with roses is rich with innuendo—some person planned, chose, and tended young plants, and trained them. Implicit in this process is the creator’s unique aesthetic vision combined with the ability to delay gratification.

The gardener each year gains more knowledge of the soil conditions, light requirements, and where to make those first tentative pruning choices. The pride comes with a genuine desire to create a thing of beauty for yourself as well as your neighbors.

Such is the background to my ever-evolving relationship with the Sombreuil Roses I planted along my fence when I moved five state lines to a newly renovated circa-1805 Federal home in the Valley of Virginia in 2004. 

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Creating my own rose fence was never a formed thought; it was a simple fact as sure as my next breath. Step one was of course choosing the ‘perfect’ rose for my new residence. After the children were settled in for the night, the search for that rose was on.

This required hours of looking at images, reading about different cane lengths, petal counts, fragrance and rebloom potential. It wasn’t long before I kept calling up the Sombreuil in my searches. And so one chilly November night, I ordered my seven bare-rooted roses.

My choice was based on the appearance and depictions of the intense tea-like fragrance these roses promised and reminded me of my childhood in Nantucket and Englewood, New Jersey.

Little did I know that the qualities associated with the color, Numerology and Tarot interpretations for this particular rose were so apt for where I was at that time in my life.

The Sombreuil is ivory with the subtlest hint of apricot. Ivory was once associated with purity and virginity and used in bridal bouquets. This is not so in recent history.

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For several decades now this color is s associated with profound change, a somber time and a time of transition. And of hope. The number associated with my rose is six. In Numerology this number is associated with being a good listener, being empathic, and at times being one who engages in risk-taking behavior. Check, check, check.

I was newly divorced, had taken an Academic teaching position as an attending MD at a new hospital and moved my three young children to a vastly different environment from what they had known in Westchester County, NY to rural and beautiful Fincastle, Virginia, population 300.

Planting time for bare root roses in the Valley of Virginia is late January. So on a mild Saturday in late January 2005, I set about carefully digging holes, mixing in bone meal and oh so carefully placing the pretty unimpressive bare roots in their new home.

I went about my planting as intently as I had mastered balancing an old rotary in Nantucket. That afternoon brought another profound beginning. As I was planting, one of my new neighbors stopped to introduce himself.

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I had already been taken by him when I had first laid eyes on him and then only more smitten when I heard his magnificent voice when he read in our Church. Over the next several years the roses grew and delighted all.

Over those same years, my “crush” evolved into a serious courtship—one that the community of Fincastle delighted in far more than the roses (which were also appreciated). On February 3, 2007, my new husband walked me home from our wedding, past the rose fence and into what is now “our” home—another transition, somber and joyous.

Thirteen years later, the roses and the couple continue to grow, weather the different seasons and delight each other.

Photo credits: All images courtesy of Dr. Charlotte Nutt

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