Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Unsinkable spirit of Denver...

The unsinkable 'Dr. Huey' photographed today near Denver Botanic Gardens
 Molly Brown is a Denver icon nowadays, although eschewed by Denver's upper crust in her day, her story lives on in Denver and beyond: not even the Titanic could sink Molly, who rallied the troops and saved lives in the face of disaster. Molly's Victorian mansion is a tourist mecca to this day. Just two years after the Titanic Sank, Captain George C. Thomas bred a rose in 1914 which was introduced in 1920 by Bobbink and Atkins. The rose goes by the cultivar name 'Dr. Huey' and is probably the most abundant garden rose in North America. In Denver especially, where Hybrid Tea Roses are sometimes jocularly referred to as "expensive annuals" their trusty understock lives on and usually results in neighborhoods full of this dusky, dark rose (almost wine colored) flower.

It's hard to describe the color: dried blood is a pretty good approximation perhaps. It reminds me of many things, many of them hearkening to the Victorian era. They have a sort of musty, dusty look--the way a good rosy rose like 'American Beauty ' looks after its gone over and dried. Oxblood. But gradually Denverites have realized that there are OTHER roses that bloom a long time and have much more attractive habit than Hybrid Teas. Own-root, long-season shrub roses are appearing in ever increasing numbers around the town: I'll show you glimpses from a single transect I took yesterday from the Gardens to my house: I saw many more but couldn't stop in traffic to take them...

Don't expect me to name these: they weren't labeled! Of course, this is an enchanting time of year when tall bearded irises are still blooming, the roses are coming on and a wealth of perennials are burgeoning in everyones gardens...we'll stick to roses for now, however.

I admired this climber...we don't see enough of these I don't think.

Another shrub rose planted on a corner flower bed: I see more and more of these and approve mightily! When I become king I shall command a rose on every corner!

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The roses at this strange building are more hum-drum landscape varieties--possibly knockouts...but I had to share the faux-grunge look of the walls: I drive past this almost every day and marvel that an architect would design faux-fallen plaster...I'm even wondering if the bricks are real now!

You wonder what kind of a city has to create it's faux-decrepitude. Denver is really pretty spiffy as big cities go.

And a few more roses until my coda, which shall be brief, and different. I promise!

Here we have a true hamburger bun garden: the roses do loosent hings up again!

The Coda

I was chagrined after a few days in Netherlands when I realized how trim, neat and elegant every single home I drove by seemed to be. I began to wonder if I was being driven deliberately past the best neighborhoods. But after nearly 10 days in Netherlands, I never saw an unkept yard.

Denver's not quite there yet. We do have a few poorer neighborhoods with too many rentals where the landlords don't care and neither do the tenants about the landscape. But in more and more of Denver's neighborhoods, especially Highlands, Park Hill, Montview, Washington Park, Bonnie Brae, Hilltop, Crestmoor  (these are the ones I drive through the most) practically every yard is trim, and more and more are brimming with sophisticated plants and often inspired design. We have a way to go to catch up with Holland, but I feel as though we may get there.

I know there are those who love the grunge. Who hate things being too neat and trim. They're the ones who've made the concept of City Beautification a sort of joke. They want edgy. Raw. Harsh. I beg to differ: gentrification has unintended consequences for neighborhoods: pricing the poor out. I am sorry for that, and believe we should as a nation and government do something about them instead of lining the pockets of the super-rich even more. But I do not believe that slums are charming and I deplore those that romanticize the ugliness of poverty and spurn attractiveness in landscape.

Screw them, I say. We have enough grunge at the top of government right now: I think civility, cleanliness, order and beauty ought to rule the day. Drumpf and his nasty troops have helped me find my inner bourgeois soul. To hell with edgy Urbvan crap. And down with greedy plutocrats and grunge. Although I shall be relieved when Dr. Huey is replaced by more appropriate hybrids!

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