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'Sheila’s Perfume'

by Jolene Adams, ARS past President 2012-2015

A long time ago – while I was still in the 6th grade – my parents bought a new home in Southern California and Mom went to work planting gardens. Her front yard was a large rectangle with a split-rail fence around the side and front. Mom loved flowers of all kinds, so she planted a rose bush at each post of that fence … and filled in the rest of the border with perennials and annuals – cottage garden style. LEFT:'Sheila’s Perfume', photo by Jolene Adams.


On the other side of the front lawn was the garage wall and on that she had my Dad build a trellis for her favorite climbing rose – ‘Frau Karl Druschki’. That big white rose greeted me every day as I went off to the bus stop to go to school with waves of perfume and fluttering petals in the breeze coming from the West. The rest of that bed contained begonias and some shade plants, and a large toad who lived under a fern year-round.


In the back yard she had a border flower bed running around the property so that we had annuals and perennials blooming all year long against the cement block walls of the yard.

And who do you suppose was appointed as her “helper” since my brother was only a baby ….. ME! I learned how to care for the flowers and the lawn under her supervision.


Watering, weeding, feeding – cutting blooms for the house on occasion – digging up dead plants and putting in new ones. I learned by doing.

After I grew up, married, and moved away Mom would always have me come to visit and then take home “slips” and “starts” of various plants for my own small garden. When my Aunt Betty moved from her large home to a smaller residence she brough all her roses over to my house and we had a planting party along the southwest side of the yard. I reveled in a dozen rose bushes showering me with blooms and fragrance all Spring and Summer and into Fall each year. I learned to prune – after all, someone had to do it! LEFT:'Sheila’s Perfume', photo by Rita Perwich.


As years went by, I continued planting and caring for roses and various other flora but it wasn’t until my own children grew old enough to start helping in the garden that I began paying attention to colors and fragrances – especially with the roses. Years went by and we moved several times – finally settling in San Diego.


But fate had other plans – and when the “Bells” broke apart my husband elected to stay with AT&T and we needed to move – again – to the San Francisco area. We bought a house in Hayward and settled down – we put in a garden and I started up with the roses again. And the funniest thing – we hit a sale on roses at Regan Nursery the first Spring we were in the new house – and the six tree roses we bought looked so good planted along the driveway we went back the next weekend and bought six more.


Then came retirement – and more time to garden and more roses to plant in that garden. I found a rose that was large and beautiful and smelled wonderful when she bloomed – and I liked her name … ‘Sheila’s Perfume’. She went into the front bed, right under the bay window so I could see her whenever I looked out to the front yard. And she was joined by more roses.


My husband and I joined the East Bay Rose Society once we learned about it from a friend – and whoa!!!! … more roses! And showing roses. And learning more about roses. So, we also joined ARS. Over the years many of the roses slowly declined and other roses took their place – but Sheila stayed on and on … blooming and perfuming the yard every year since 1998.


I loved that rose – she was always ready to go – I had blooms for the house, blooms for the rose show, blooms for giving to friends and neighbors – what’s not to love????


I won Best Floribunda (one bloom) three times, Most Fragrant Rose five times, and was in the new Floribunda Court of Honor twice with this beauty. When we finally sold our house and moved away, she was much too old (and too large) to move. The new owners like her a lot and don’t seem to mind if I drop by to visit when I’m in the area and admire “their” roses – especially my lovely ‘Sheila’s Perfume’!

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