Thursday, September 20, 2012

Staunton's Thornrose Cemetery Roses

With a name like Thornrose Cemetery, one would think that this place would be full of roses.  I have heard that it was like that years ago, but this is definitely not the case today.   Rose Rosette Disease made an appearance in 2002, and most of the roses that once grew here are now gone.

As I entered the cemetery's main gate, I saw three roses ... two tall white Noisettes and one pink, cluster-flowered shrub.
This is one of the Noisettes.  I didn't photograph the pink shrub.
I cruised slowly through the cemetery, and it took a while for me to find any more roses at all.  The first one I saw was probably a wild Multiflora ... perhaps planted by a seed dropped by a bird.  The next one (two, actually) were pink Rugosas.  One, pictured above and below, is probably 'Pink Grootendorst'.  It was about four feet high, and is very healthy and vigorous.
Beside 'Pink Grootendorst' was another pink rugosa.  The foliage is very similar to 'Pink Grootendorst', but the flowers were different ... much more delicate and not fringed like PG.
The final rose I found is one of my favorites ... one I can identify just about anywhere, even without flowers (which is a good thing, since it only blooms in the spring) ... Banshee.  Banshee's growth habit varies, depending on location, but her distinctive foliage gives her away every time.
This Banshee was growing in the shade of a large tree, and it appears that its leaves were beginning to shut down as fall arrives.  Banshee in my garden, planted as a sucker from a plant in growing in a cemetery in King William, Virginia, is growing in full sun and has happily reached eight feet high.  (Here's a photo of a flower from my Banshee, so you can see how lovely she is.)
I came away from Thornrose Cemetery feeling a bit lost.  I know that there were once many more roses growing there, but those are but a memory. 
Isn't that what a cemetery is, after all ... a place for memories.  In this case, we have memorials to memories of loved ones ... and memories of roses that once were.


  1. What a shame the roses succumbed to disease. Perhaps the birds will help more to appear. I do like the fringed petals.

  2. That's such a shame that so many of the roses were killed by disease. I love the looks like a peony to pretty! And the other more delicate pink one is beautiful too.


  3. That is very sad about all those lost roses. But I absolutely adore 'Pink Grootendorst', and will be on the lookout for that one!!! Happy Thursday Connie!

  4. The pink ones are gorgeous and look almost like peonies!

  5. Such a shame for the loss of the roses, but great that some have managed to survive... and look beautiful. I wish there was something at my parents resting place, other than flat markers. There are a few trees and that's about it. Makes it easier for the mowers, but not nearly as interesting as the older cemeteries.

  6. How sad that most of the Roses are long gone. The one's you found are beautiful. Yes memories are what we find in cemeteries. hugs, Linda

  7. Photos were lovely are right memories...although sad that the roses have been lost...I still feel the need to come back Richmond, that was an amazing rose cemetery!

  8. Some of them did look like peonies...such pretty roses! Pink is my favorite color too!~Hugs, Patti

  9. How sad. Yes, the name implies a cemetery full of beautiful roses, and it is scary that RRD can change the landscape to such a degree. I worry that as it continues to spread, we may not have many more rose gardens left. I am encouraged that some of these roses are still alive and well.

  10. It is so sad when disease has such a wide reaching effect on one place. Interesting that the Banshee rose lives on in this cemetery - reminds me of the Irish denotation of a fairy woman who wails at the impending death of someone. In my grandmother's time there were woman who would take on this role at funerals.

    Wished that I had carved out the time to visit your gardens. Hope this finds you well. Michele

  11. I continue to be in awe of your keen ability to identify roses by their leaves and growth habit, Connie. You have such a wonderful gift! :)

    xoxo laurie

  12. I'm very intrigued by this trip you took. I'm also intrigued by the Pink Grootendorst and how much it looks like a camellia with its ruffled edges.


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