I hear it often.  "Hey there, Red Rose," seeing as I am a Rose born with natural red hair.  Yes, ladies, it is natural, but it does fade with age.  My hair, which has scandalously been dubbed "strawberry-blonde" by some, used to be darker when I was a kid.  Not auburn, mind you, but darker.  Loftily, I adhere to the assertion that my hair is still red, not strawberry-blonde.  Sadly, though, I know someday it will be.

Wow, got off on that tangent fast!  Where I really meant to go with this was I am a Red Rose who loves rose gardens.  My grandmother, whom I call "Nana," has a hand for growing roses.  At her previous house on Lake Oconee in Georgia, she had the biggest, most fragrant garden of roses I've ever seen at a person's home.  She would be out there every day during the growing season cutting and cutting roses, and still there were more on the bushes!  She sold that house recently to settle at her farmland in eastern Georgia, and while that land is lovely, too, I do miss that rose garden. 

When I bought my house in Oklahoma City, the first thing I wanted to do outside (well, other than make sure the grass didn't get out of control!) was plant rose bushes.  But where to start?  Nana's rose garden was a collection of old clippings passed down and moved from place to place, and they required tremendous care and time.  As most Oklahomans know, the weather is a bit of a time investment here!  So I couldn't plant a needy garden.  I needed hardy, independent, resilient plants that hopefully still looked pretty.  Enter the double-knockout rose bush!  Basically, all you do is dig a proper hole, give it some good soil and fertilizer, plant the sucker, water it, and boom!  You've got a lovely rose bush that pretty much does its own thing! 

Now, it will bloom more and more often if I clip off the old blooms to encourage new growth.  I did that just last week, and now my red rose bushes are all in bloom again.  Even though my three bushes at the front of my house are nothing compared to my Nana's rose bush heaven, they are a little piece of heaven to which to come home after a busy weather day.  As the garage door makes its usual racket opening to let in my little red Jetta (can you tell I have a thing for red?), I always smile at my roses pressing on and blooming again and again. 

--Carrie Rose, June 11, 2008