Sunday, October 16, 2011

Hollywood Cemetery Roses ... The Circle of Life

Let's finish up our visit to Richmond's Hollywood Cemetery with some views of things as they have changed in the years that I have been visiting here.

This is a rose that caught my eye in 2008.  In a garden of antique roses, most of which are soft shades of pink or white, with the occasional darker pink or China red thrown in, it was unusual to spot a bright yellow rose bush.

(photo taken May 2009)

I pocketed a few hips from this rose that day, and I raised two seedlings from them.  Not knowing what its true name is, I dubbed it Mama Rose.  In the years since then, it has been a quest for me to identify this rose, and I finally succeeded last year ... this is Autumn Sunset.  You will recognize the following photo as the one I use for my Blogger profile photo.

Mama Rose (she will always be Mama Rose to me) has been declining since I first saw her.  First one cane died, then more, and now she is completely dead.  I imagine the cemetery workers will remove her remains this winter.

(photo taken October 2011)

There has been a lot of work done in Presidents' Circle, where James Monroe and John Tyler are buried.  The old asphalt roads have been removed to make the area into a pedestrian-only circle, and the grass paths are now laid with granite pavers.  There are new trees and benches, and the area looks great.  The roses that were there, however, were a casualty of the construction.

Here is Madame Berkeley.  She was once a large, lovely tea rose.  Now she is a dead stump.

I couldn't find a photo of this bush when it was alive.  I can't believe I never photographed it.

Same thing with Old Blush.  There are other examples of Old Blush in the cemetery ... but this was the most prominent one, and the one that was marked on the cemetery's map of roses in their tourist brochure.

May 2009

October 2011

There was once a beautiful "Smith's Parish" Tea rose near Mme. Berkeley.  I didn't find any trace of it this past week.

May 2009.  You can see my favorite sculpture of the grieving woman in the background.

Artsy shot of "Smith's Parish", using a fill flash to illuminate the roses,
with President Monroe's grave in the background.

The news is not all grim in Presidents' Circle.  The 'Mrs. B. R. Cant' rose that I showed you the other day is quite a survivor.  While her neighbor roses died, apparently as a result of the construction, she is coming back quite nicely.

This was 'Mrs. B. R. Cant' in May 2009.  She is at least eight feet tall and ten feet wide.

In October 2011, she is now less than three feet high and four feet wide ... but she is doing very well and should one day return to her former glorious size and form.

Not too far from Presidents' Circle, in the Currie plot, is a Polyantha rose that was once a beautiful haystack of green foliage and waxy pink flowers.

Now, this rose is suffering from Rose Rosette Disease, which is a fatal virus that is transmitted by a mite.  (Click HERE to see a post to learn more about this disease)  I took a handful of cuttings from a portion of this plant that doesn't show signs of infection, so there is chance that I can offer the cemetery a replacement plant in the next year or two.  (These cuttings will be kept in total isolation until they are rooted and growing, and I am sure that they pose no threat of infection.) 

On top of a hill overlooking the James River, the Andrews plot had a beautiful 'Safrano' growing beside the gate.

(photo taken in 2010)

This rose must have been downed by a storm, because it is now laying broken on the ground.  Part of the rose is still alive, and blooming, but the trunk is too stiff to get it back to its upright position against the fence without breaking it off.  I imagine that the grounds crew will cut it off and hope for it to grow back from the stump.  Cross your fingers.

Same view as the photo above.

A little photoshopped line so you can see where the trunk is in the grass, connecting the bottom of the rose to the top part.

There is live growth at the base of this rose, so it should survive.

Around the corner and up a hill from Jefferson Davis's grave, I caught a glimpse of brilliant yellow that just didn't fit the scene.  As I walked that direction, I realized that it is a beautiful yellow miniature rose that is healthy and vigorous and blooming like crazy.  It's just that the color was totally weird and out of place in this setting.  Another 'circle of life' moment, I guess ... tastes change and newer roses get a place in the landscape of Hollywood.

This little bush was full of ripe hips, so it I don't think you'll be surprised to hear that I pinched a handful of them to take home to grow over the winter.

One rose that I have to check on every time I visit Hollywood Cemetery is the Musk rose in the Crenshaw plot.  This important historic rose was once thought to be extinct, until it was rediscovered here.  It has since been found in a couple of other places, all related to the Crenshaw family, and we can thank them for preserving this rose for rose lovers everywhere to enjoy. 

The hot, dry weather of our past two summers has been hard on this rose.  There are quite a few dead canes on it and it's not as tall and vigorous as it was a few years ago, but it's relatively healthy and doing fine.  All it needs is bit of pruning to remove the dead parts and the weedy tree seedlings that are growing inside of it.

The flowers on the Musk rose were too high for me to photograph, but I did get this shot of its beautiful buds.

Hollywood Cemetery is a private cemetery that is well cared for and is quite aware of its status as a national landmark.  It is open to the public and the staff offers walking tours every morning (April through October).  To learn more, visit the Hollywood Cemetery web site.  I especially enjoy the History Slideshow, with 50 slides of cemetery attractions, and fantastic descriptions.


  1. So many lovely roses! Thanks for the tour!

  2. Connie, thanks for another wonderful post about the Hollywood Cemetery. It is sad to see that a couple of the old roses died, especially if it is due to construction. Hope they will be replaced.

  3. Hello Connie,
    Thank you for showing the yellow "Mama Rose" bush. You see, my mother's favorite flower was the yellow rose! Then to read the name for it was Autumn dear Mom passed away in the autumn. It brought tears to my eyes! I also want to thank you for posting a comment about my cats. I'd never thought about it until you said my Rudy has a Siamese face...I think you're right! Your pets are all so beautiful! Hugs, Cindy

  4. I'm sorry, but I have so many questions after seeing this! Obviously, the roses are marked, so will they replant? And the rose with RRD, are they going to get it out - now? The longer it stays, the more likelihood to infect other roses, right? Not sure you can answer my questions, but I hope they have some rosarian offering advice. A beautiful cemetery. I hope it continues to be that way.

  5. Such a crying shame about the ones that haven't made it, either from weather, disease or construction. Much like the human cycle of life.

  6. That is a beautiful rose...but it is so sad to see so many of those roses lost/gone. How wonderful that you were able to save a few rose his from that one..and will be able to offer a replacement someday (hopefully). xo Diana

  7. Wow, you are like the Rose Custodian for the cemetary! I hope they know how lucky they are to have you keeping an eye on the welfare or those beautiful roses.

  8. Such a neat series! I love learning about the different roses, and seeing them at different stages of their lives. I had no idea they could get so big!

    Happy Gardening, I can't wait to see how your roses from seed do :)


  9. Another fantastic post. What a shame about those roses lost over the years, but encouraging to see the regrowth on some. They're lucky to have you gathering and growing seeds to someday (hopefully) replenish their stock! Interestingly, I too just recently became acquainted with 'Autumn Sunset.' It's growing at the Penn State Rose & Fragrance Garden, which if you're ever up this way you should visit. You'd love it!


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