Roses for Mom

by Barbara Nevins Taylor

The roses on our deck in Greenwich Village didn’t make it through the brutally cold winter and I planned to buy at least one new rose bush after Mother’s Day.

But I found myself in Home Depot in Jersey City looking for deck wash so that my husband Nick could clean the grime off of the Brazilian Ipe wood.  He was surprised to learn that none of his favorite hardware stores in Manhattan, including the Home Depot on 23rd Street, sell deck wash. Manhattan doesn’t have that many wooden decks

The Jersey City Home Depot had a couple of different kinds and I bought them both so that he can choose. I’m an inveterate returner.  But I also, as Nick said, “exceeded my shopping mandate.”

How could I leave without something else? I parked on the roof in the garden center and a small bush with deep red roses spoke to me. The roses reminded me of our mother and the garden she kept in Laurelton, Queens.

Mom In The Photo Booth

Our kitchen window looked out on the garden. And we all loved the blooms on the big big red rose bush sprawled across the back fence. My mother called it the red rambler.  When my sister Hope and I drive past the house now, we’re amazed that she had so many flowering plants and trees on the postage stamp-sized property.

Tiger lilies bloomed alongside the rambling rose bush, and a sickle pear tear provided some shade in the back corner of the yard. Red roses, yellow roses, tea roses and peonies bloomed along the side fence that separated us from our neighbors, the Schiffs, and a big pear tree almost leaned into our house.

Mom Grilling

An apple tree grew on the other side of the patch of grass we called a lawn and purple hydrangeas livened up a bed that stretched under its branches. Beyond a patch of cement that led to the junk-filled garage, mom planted a narrow bed with purple and white irises, lilies of the valley and a small tree that she called an “orange blossom.” It was the sweetest smelling corner of the garden.

Our mother  took great pleasure in the garden and it rewarded her and until her life changed and she no longer had the time to care for it. But that’s another story and she’d probably like this one better.

Mom on the right. Aunt Bernice on the left.
Mom on the right. Aunt Bernice on the left.

Every time I remember the name of some obscure plant, I silently thank our mother for sharing her passion for gardening, flowers and beautiful things with me.



 She died a year and half ago, and would have loved this rose bush and appreciated the idea that I bought it on Mother’s Day, a day she referred to as a “Greeting card holiday.”   Nevertheless, these are roses for you, Mom.

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Barbara Nevins Taylor

As the winner of 22 Emmy Awards and a slew of journalism honors and awards, I created to give you the straight story about complicated stuff. Tell us what you want to know and we'll get you the answers.

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