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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Naperville Gardener – What I did on my summer vacation

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Last winter, my son Christian called and asked if I’d ever heard of “The World’s Largest Rose Tree” in Tombstone, Arizona. Thanks to a random e-mail, I had, and our next mother-son road trip was planned.

Over the years, we’ve visited the Desert Botanical Garden, Taliesin West- Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and western school of architecture as well as many other places unique to Arizona.

One morning in June, Christian and I headed south from Mesa to Tombstone, also home of the Gunfight at the OK Corral where the good guys were Wyatt Earp, his brothers and Doc Holliday. Tombstone is still an authentic western town. The “sidewalks” are raised boardwalks, the streets are dusty and very real looking cowboys are hanging around.

Christian and I were greeted at the Rose Tree Inn and Museum by Kassi Devere, wife of Jeff, a descendent of the original owners of the Rose Tree. She was dressed in costume of the cowboy days and gave us a delightful tour of the grounds and an explanation of the rich history of the Rose Tree.

In 1894, a young couple left Scotland for Tombstone, Arizona. The husband had planned on working in the mines. His bride was homesick, as young brides often are. A thoughtful Scottish friend mailed her a box of plants that she had loved in Scotland, including cuttings of the White Lady Banks (Rosa Banksiae Alba Plena) climbing rose. She gave one of the cuttings to her new friend who owned a boarding house and they planted it in the backyard. As the rose grew too big for the typical trellis, mining know-how was the inspiration for the sturdy system of wooden poles and metal pipes that supports the rose to this day.

The rose has grown into a canopy that is only limited by the property lines. One estimate is that it covers over 8,000 square feet and is regularly trimmed (cutting are occasionally available to purchase) to keep the rose from taking over the entire town of Tombstone.

The boarding house is now Rose Tree Suites and it includes a wonderful museum.
Next time Christian and I (with more of our family) visit, we plan to stay at least one night. Blooming season is approximately mid-March through the end of April. For more information, check out their website at tombstonerosetree.com.

P.S. When is a shrub a tree? A shrub (a woody plant) that grows to over 10 feet is then called a tree.

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Marilyn Krueger
Marilyn Kruegerhttp://www.napervillegardenclub.org
Marilyn Krueger is an avid local gardener and member of the Naperville Garden Club.
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