|Fred and Mary Buffham (c. 1903)|
The same can be said of many plants, which bloom, fade, and then bloom again in the same season. Others go dormant, but bloom again the next season.
With this particular post, I have Roses on my mind. And in particular, a certain Rose cultivar created by my paternal great-grandfather, Fred Buffham, and named for his wife (my great-grandmother), Mary (Ressler) Buffham. I never knew Fred (an Englishman by birth) or Mary (an American of German ancestry), but I have a feeling their love bloomed repeatedly throughout their long marriage.
They settled on a farm in southern
, and raised a family. One line of the family still manages the farm, and the rest of us haven’t strayed too far—most of us living in the upper Minnesota Midwest.
Through the years, my family came to call this particular cultivar the “Grandpa Buffham” Rose. But I found out recently Fred’s original name for it was “Sweet Mary.”
|Fred's 'Sweet Mary'|
We think Sweet Mary is a cross between a tea Rose and a wild Rose. We don’t know much more about the science behind its creation, except that it was one of Fred’s many grafting experiments.
But those of us who have cuttings planted in our gardens do know it’s one of the sweetest-scented Roses around. My father recalls that “Sweet Mary” was planted around the wide perimeter of a screen porch on the family farm in
. The scent must have been incredible, because just one of these Roses fills the air with a sweet tea aroma that makes me swoon. Minnesota
The blooms aren’t spectacular, but they are pretty—a delicate shade of powder pink. But while “delicate” aptly describes the look of “Sweet Mary,” the plant is anything but. Like all Roses, it’s susceptible to thrips, aphids, and various other minor annoyances, although it doesn’t seem to be bothered too much by fungal diseases—and I don’t use systemics or chemical foliar sprays.
Given the right conditions, Sweet Mary thrives and takes minimal care. I deadhead the plants after blooming and trim them back by half in the fall. The main blooming time is in June, but sometimes Sweet Mary reblooms in the same season.
|Old World Wisconsin's Raspberry School|
This past May, Sweet Mary was planted at the Old World Wisconsin living history museum in Eagle,
—just outside the “ Wis. .” All photos shown at Old World were taken by my father, Jim Richards, who volunteers as a living history interpreter there. Raspberry School
|Marcia Carmichael, Old World's historical gardener, prepares Sweet Mary for planting.|
|Marcia explains planting techniques to Old World visitors.|
|Sweet Mary in her new home near the Raspberry School.|
I’m certain Fred and Mary Buffham would be happy to know their legacy lives on at the family farm in
, in their descendants’ gardens, and at a public historical site that welcomes visitors from around the world. Minnesota
(Sweet Mary bloomed in my garden this season from early June through early July. I’ll let you know if it blooms again in August.)