“The Gift” came into my garden and my life as a gift. Pat Henry of Roses Unlimited brought the plant to me one day when she came for a visit. She told me she thought I would like it.
Her plant of “The Gift” was also a present to her from her rose friend in Long Island, New York. She had it in her white garden and enjoyed it very much.
Like it I did! I asked about the ultimate size so I could know where to place it in an already crowded English landscape garden. When told it was the size of a small shrub, 4 ft. tall by 5ft.wide, I decided to plant “The Gift” in an old galvanized cattle trough. I got a thought how nice this flower could be for flowers delivery… The trough had rusted out holes for drainage and I wanted to use it as a focal point in the garden. I love garden junk. “The Gift” loved its’ new home and promptly began to grow and bloom. It was charming me and visitors even in its’ first summer here at Tall Oaks.
Now for the history lesson: “The Gift” is classified as a Polyantha and can therefore be exhibited as a Polyantha in ARS show. I was thrilled to win Best Polyantha Spray in the Charlotte Rose Show last October.
Many peoples saw “The Gift” for the first time from that entry. Since the first Polyantha was introduced in 1875, it is not classified as an OGR, although it has the look and charm of the old roses.
“What does it look like”, you say? It is a single small pure white flower that blooms in long clusters and has a wonderful sweet perfume. The long fronds of flowers arch gracefully when placed in arrangements.
The prominent golden stamens make this rose a knock out. A single stem perfumes the entire arrangement. Barbara Word featured “The Gift” in her floral calendar for May 1988. 1 still enjoy the photographs often, especially on dark and dreary winter days.
While in San Antonio for a Heritage Rose conference a few years ago, I met the mother of “The Gift”. Her name is Joyce Demits and she lives in California. I believe she told me that “The Gift” was a seedling of “Frances Lester”. Regardless of the pedigree, it is indeed a gift to rose lovers. And it is interesting to know the the rose is the State Flower of the United State.
An added bonus of “The Gift” is the tiny currant red hips that appear in the fall. They make lovely accents to winter arrangements. It is often said that the garden should be a joy all year long. This is possible with “The Gift”.
It is a vigorous grower and I prune my bush to 2 ft. every spring and again in August. This encourages new healthy canes and helps in control of the spider mites we are cursed with here in North Carolina.
Perhaps you can purchase “The Gift” for yourself if you are not lucky enough to have one given to you. There are currently 5 sources for this rose. All things worth having are somewhat hard to find.
Let the hunt begin.