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A Rose for a Song

by Bob Martin, ARS President


I continue this month with the next installment of my monthly feature in which I present a selected song about roses, describe the history of the song, the artist and make a personally selected rose for the song. This one is very special to me. RIGHT: 'Dona Martin', photo by Dona Martin.

“Rose of My Heart”

Johnny Cash, American V - A Hundred Highways

“Rose of My Heart” was recorded by Johnny Cash shortly before his death on “American V: A Hundred Highways”, a posthumous gold album released on July 4, 2006. It was the fifth entry in Cash’s American series.

We’re the best partners this world’s ever seen

Together as close as can be

But sometimes it’s hard to find time in between

To tell you what you mean to me

You are the rose of my heart

You are the love of my life

A flower not fading, nor falling apart

If you’re tired, rest your head on my arm

Rose of my heart

The song was written by Hugh Moffatt (1948 –), an American country singer and songwriter who has also released critically acclaimed albums of his own. Among his hits is the well-known song, “Old Flames Can’t Hold a Candle to You”.

The Artist – Johnny Cash

John R. “Johnny” Cash (1932 – 2003) was an American singer-songwriter who is considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. Although he is primarily remembered as a country singer, his songs and sound spanned other genres including rock and roll, blues, folk, and gospel. This crossover appeal won Cash the rare honor of induction in the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.

His lengthy career, spanning 1954 to 2003, included the release of 96 albums and 153 singles on several record labels. His best-known songs included “I Walk the Line”, “Folsom Prison Blues”, and “Ring of Fire”. Songs with a rose theme also included the somber song, “Give My Love to Rose” (1972).

The Rose – ‘Dona Martin’

This is an easy one and is for the rose of my heart, Dona Martin. Her namesake rose is a lavender sport of the Member’s Choice award-winning, top exhibition hybrid tea, ‘Randy Scott’. ‘Dona Martin’ has all of its qualities, including its superior form and a moderate fragrance. The color is variable, from pink to mauve. It is a Queenly rose I felt appropriate for the name of the love of my life. She does laugh every time over the line, “A flower not fading, nor falling apart.”

The hybrid tea rose, ‘Randy Scott’ was named after a prominent Virginia exhibitor, who passed away much too soon. Hybridized by top exhibitor, John Smith of Maryland, it is a cross of former No.1 show roses, ‘Crystalline’ x ‘Moonstone’, both favorites of Randy Scott. ‘Randy Scott’ was the No. 3 exhibition hybrid tea in the country in 2013 and is expected to reach No. 1. It has high-centered pure white blooms of exquisite form framed by leathery foliage, on an exceptionally vigorous bush.

‘Dona Martin’, the rose, made it first appearance as Royalty, winning Princess at the Portland Rose Society show in June 2013, shown by Jim & Nancy Cavanaugh.

The Person – ‘Dona Martin’

In January 1995, having recently moved into a new Arizona home with ¾ acre of bare backyard, Dona was visited by a friend, a member of the local rose society, who suggested she plant some roses. She selected 20 roses and after reading “The Rose Bible”, by Rayford Clayton Reddell, became “fully and irrevocably hooked on roses”. That spring she ended up planting 45 varieties of modern roses, including hybrid teas, large flowered climbers, and David Austin English Roses.

By May of the following year, 1996, the original landscape design had been thrown out, and she was up to about 250 rose bushes. This continued, and by the end of the fifth year her garden had reached 450 varieties of roses, modern and old, large flowered and miniature. Many were now on ‘Fortuniana’ rootstock, a rootstock previously unfamiliar to Arizona rosarians. Having learned about this rootstock through conversations with national-level exhibitors, she concluded – rightfully as it turned out – that it would be a superior rootstock for Arizona and the desert Southwest. Thereafter, Dona’s garden continued to grow, until it had reached more than 550 roses.

In December 2003, Dona and I were married. Together we planted a rose garden in Gilbert, Arizona that grew to more than 350 bushes, many on ‘Fortuniana’. Then, in 2008, we moved to Escondido where we now maintain a rose garden of more than 600 roses of all types. On September 25, 2010, Dona and I were sealed as eternal companions in the San Diego Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormon Church).

Dona has been active in her local rose society since the beginning of her adventures in roses. She established and maintained the first website for the Mesa-East Valley Rose Society, and was the award-winning editor of its newsletter, Rose Lore, for many years. Those awards included the ARS Silver Medal for local society newsletters in 2004 and an Honorable Mention in 2005. She also served on its Board of Directors and as it President from 2007-2008.

Since moving to Escondido, Dona has been active in the San Diego Rose Society. From 2009-2011, she was the award-winning Editor of the society newsletter, Rose Ramblings. More recently she served as the Social Networking Coordinator for the Society, maintaining its Facebook presence, and also serving as the official photographer for its rose shows, following which she served as President.

Dona has authored numerous articles on roses, as well as the booklet, “All About Roses and Rose Care in the Desert Southwest”, sold by both the Mesa-East Valley Rose Society and the Rose Society of Tucson. She and Bob were the guest editors of the 2006 American Rose Annual, for which she was responsible for all the photography. She also co-authored an article in that issue on the Rose Garden at Mesa Community College, which garden was featured on the cover and for which she was actively involved in its promotion and establishment.

Dona and I are an active rose exhibitor team at all levels. Prior to or marriage, Dona won two national trophies at the 2000 ARS National Convention in Houston, including the Dorothy C. Stemler Memorial Award for a bouquet of Old Garden Roses, and the William H. Mavity Trophy for five floribunda sprays. She also won the Dowager Queen at that show. Together we have won two more national trophies, and many district trophies, including the prestigious J. Horace McFarland Award at the recent District Convention in Carlsbad. There she also staged a bouquet of Old Garden Roses that won the Los Angeles Rose Society District Trophy.

Dona is an ARS Consulting Rosarian and an apprentice Horticultural judge. She was the recipient of the ARS Bronze Medal in 2001 from the Mesa-East Valley Rose Society.


‘Dona Martin’ is a Queenly rose appropriate for the name of the love of my life. We also laugh every time over the line, “A flower not fading, nor falling apart.” And, to add a little spice, there has now appeared in three gardens, a striped sport, which I have registered under the name ‘Lilac Surprise’. The stability of the sport is questionable but it can surprise you by showing up in the garden.

Photos submitted by Bob Martin


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