Great Aunt Clara’s Late June Roses

June roses

Although it didn’t look like much until late in June each year, around the third or fourth week of the month, the old rosebush, planted by Dad’s Aunt Clara Richards Carberry, sprang reliably back to life.  Great Aunt Clara had planted the rosebush back in the 1940s, along our fence, on the east side of the house, under the poplar trees.

It was an uncertain time when she planted that rosebush, the years between 1939 and 1945, when World War II raged on, separating families from loved ones, and prematurely ending young lives, as they fought bravely, on the front lines in Europe.

stafford house after WWII colourized

Stafford House, 1947, after WWII

By the time that I was old enough to be aware of the rosebush, it had spread, as perennials will, and imparted a bright pink show of fragrant roses that stretched  for several yards, along the old fence.  For the entire five decades that we lived in the house, that rosebush bloomed faithfully. Without any pruning or watering, it gave us a lovely fuchsia display, each year, shortly after the summer solstice had passed, as though that was its signal to begin to bloom.

Maybe in such an unsettled time in our history, Clara wanted to create some beauty that would last; something predictable and steadfast; something she could count on.

So the rosebush bloomed like clockwork, late in June, each year for decades, watching silently from its sheltered patch under the poplars, along the fence, as one by one we finished our years in school, and left the old homestead, to go out and make our way in the world.  It watched all five of us come and go, and it thrived long past that time, for another quarter of a century, until our father passed away, and our Mother sold the house, and moved to town.

With a legacy like that, how could any of the short-lived ‘annual’ plants ever compare to this faithful old perennial, planted by Clara, so many years ago?  More importantly, how could we ever forget those bright, pink, fragrant roses, and how they graced the edge of our yard, so beautifully each year, late in June?


“Great Aunt Clara’s Late June Roses”, an excerpt from: “Lanark County Calendar – Four Seasons on the Third Line”, ISBN 9780987 702630

L C Calendar book cover

available at The Book Nook, Perth, ON,
Spark Books, Perth, ON,
Mill Street Books, Almonte,

Arlene Stafford-Wilson

4 comments on “Great Aunt Clara’s Late June Roses

  1. Rick Roberts says:

    Our memories of people and places are so often punctuated by special long living plants. I transplanted a piece of a peony from my mother’s garden into our garden this Spring that recalls nearly 70 years of special memories.

    In the early 1950s my father was offered a pink peony by friends in Beckwith Township. That peony and many of its offspring flourished in our Beckwith garden during the 50s. When we moved into Carleton Place, one of those peonies moved too. That peony started new descendants in my mother’s gardens through two more moves within CP. Decades later I’ve returned to CP. We now have a piece of that peony in our garden. My father died 31 years ago. Every time I see that peony or smell it’s fragrance, I will think of him, my mother and the joy it has brought over so many years.

  2. Kathryn Stock says:

    Beautifully written, Arlene. Thank you, Kathryn


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