Constantina McKenna grew up in Gravesend with a garden that included 3 rosebushes behind her home: One red, one white, and one pink. She shares the story of a rosebush that for her was not just a part of the garden where she grew up, but a familial legacy that spans boroughs.
McKenna writes that she always loved the pink rosebush best. She would gaze at it from her kitchen window while living with her parents. Even after she got married and moved to Queens, she would visit and take home pink roses that her mother would give her.
After her mother passed away in 1998, McKenna’s father continued to give her flowers upon her visits. After several years, during one of her visits to her father, McKenna describes an idea she had when she went to the back window of her house to gaze at her favorite pink rosebush.
There they were in all their glory – beautiful big pink roses in full bloom. The rose bush was now at least 12 feet tall and the roses were so high up on the very top of the bush that Dad had to get a long stick with a hook on it to pull the branch down so he could cut some roses for me to take home. Then I had this thought, why not take a few cuttings to see if I could root them – then I could have my own pink rose bush – just like Mom’s! When I mentioned it to Dad he thought it was a great idea and cut a few stems for me to take home.
After many weeks, when roots began to grow on the stems, McKenna placed them in a pot with soil. In 2002, she named the pot “Fannie’s Rose,” after her mother, for these pink roses signify the bond between them. Yet, it was five years more until McKenna noticed any signs of pink roses in the bush.
I think it was in the Spring of 2007 when one day I was checking on Fannie’s rose on my deck as I always did, when I noticed a small bud. I couldn’t believe my eyes. My heart was pumping and as I continued to look further I saw a few more buds. There were 7 buds in all that Spring and I was thrilled beyond belief. Within a few weeks the buds were fully opened and there they were – the most beautiful pink roses in all their glory on my deck in Roxbury – just like the ones that had bloomed in Mom’s garden. After that Spring Fannie’s rose didn’t bloom again for the next few years. Then last Spring, just one single large rose bloomed.
Now, Fannie’s rose has six big blooming roses. A couple of weeks ago, McKenna cut one of them and placed it near a picture of her mother. She left the others on the bush outside for her to look at out the back window, like she did as a youngster in her mother’s house in Gravesend.