Monday, February 21, 2011

Happy Birthday Mr. President!

A tisket, a tasket, red roses in a basket....Or so my saying goes on this President's Day.  Peter gave me this lovely basket of miniature red roses for Valentines Day and even though that day dedicated love, affection and admiration has come and gone for yet another year, there is still more reason to celebrate with roses during February.  Can you think of a better way to say "Happy Birthday Mr. President" than with our National Floral Emblem, the rose, as proclaimed by President Ronald Reagan, in November of 1986.  This proclamation is recorded in the United States Code (Title 36, Chapter 10) and by Congress in a Joint Resolution (#159).

Upon doing a little internet-style research, it seems that several American Presidents, as well as a few First Lady's, have carried on love affairs with roses throughout our history.  In fact, the White House Rose Garden has been in existance since Woodrow Wilson's wife established it in 1913 on the site where Theodore Rosevelt's wife, Edith, had previously established a colonial garden back in 1902, where a conservatory rose house had stood through many previous administrations.

There are many roses, all in different and unique color combinations and fragrant scents, named for United States Presidents, and even some of their wives, as well.  They are, however, becoming harder and harder to find in the plethora of rose selections out there. But, we all know of the famous "Mister Lincoln," a velvety red hybrid tea variety with a strong citrus scent. Did you also know that there are three more rose bushes named in honor of Abraham Lincoln?  One more hybrid tea rose and two miniature roses as well.

Our first president, George Washington, was also a farmer and an avid breeder of roses during his lifetime.  George, being the dedicated, loving son that he was, named one of his roses for his mother, Mary Washington.  Thank goodness, somewhere later in history, some rose aficionado had the presence of mind to honor George Washington by naming an exquisite miniature red rose, like the ones Peter gave to me, after him.  After all, if you can't name a rose after the "Father of Our Country," than who can you name a rose after?  I think it would be considered most unpatriotic not to have a "George Washington Rose,"  don't you?...I'm just sayin'...

Another interesting rose tidbit I discovered was, while you could plant a pretty good-sized rose garden with various bushes named for republican presidents--Herbert Hoover, McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, Coolidge, Eisenhower, Reagan and Taft, (don't forget to throw in Nancy Reagan, Pat Nixon, Barbara Bush and Laura Bush to complete the assortment)  a democratic rose garden would be much smaller.  Only Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt and John F.Kennedy have been honored with the naming of a rose.  The 'Lady Bird' Johnson and Rosalyn Carter Roses would help expand this garden a bit more.  However,  Jacqueline Kennedy does not have a rose named after her even though she is credited for bringing the White House Rose Garden, in long need of attention and refurbishing, during her tenure as First Lady, back to life as well as into the public eye once again.  Perhaps the the rose breeders out there have just overlooked her since there are over 6500 varieties of roses out there (and, without a doubt, more to come) that are classified into over 100 species of roses...whew!  At least there is a Jacqueline Kennedy Garden on the east side of the White House.

Such a presidential flower, the rose is! Proudly on display not only in our gardens but also in parades, churches, monuments and memorials. Appropriately described in Reagan's proclamation, "The American people have long held a special place in their hearts for roses.  Let us continue to cherish them, to honor the love and devotion they represent, and to bestow them on all we love just as God has bestowed them on us."

In any case, versatile and charming roses are for any and every occasion...especially presidential birthdays, like this one, that we all celebrate as we look forward to the coming spring and warmer weather when roses will be blooming freely once again, in our own gardens, be they stately or humble.  So, let's celebrate the rose on this President's Day and get this birthday party started, perhaps just outside of the West Wing at the White the rose garden!

1 comment:

  1. Certainly Jackie deserves a rose! I'm surprised there isn't a Dolley Madison rose as well, but perhaps this is just because I drove down Dolley Madison Blvd today.