"It's not like love at first sight, really. Its more like gravity moves. When you see her, suddenly its not the earth holding you here anymore. She does. And nothing matters more than her. And you would do anything for her, be anything for her.You become whatever she needs you to be. "
It was at Hortus Nursery in Pasadena that I first spotted the rose 'Lillian Austin'. Her blossoms sat like an English hat on a slender 5 ' tall trunk. Informal blossoms with swirls of gossamer peach and tangerine over carnation pink- I imagined hummingbirds dipping into Lillian as lovers would sip a blended tropical drink.
There was no question Lillian and I would get along. At first sight I knew I had to have her. What I did not know was how this shrubby headed English beauty would change my life.
At the time I believed life was best lived like it is printed on an accountant's ledger. Strictly organized. Budget before all else. So my desire for her was put on "the list", to wait her turn to be added to the garden.
Only Hortus went out of business and in 2001 it was not so easy to find another nursery with such splendid taste. Several days locked in my study with fingers dialing where the Internet suggested I search, I found Otto and Sons, who had been the supplier to Hortus.
Now that I knew where she was there was the issue of distance. Fillmore is 69 miles from my Diamond Bar garden. That would be a very long way for 2 tree roses to travel in my compact car. Which they never had to suffer because a very kind neighbor told her trucking-company husband- and he added a stop.
My almost missing an opportunity to have her build a relationship with the garden as a whole made me appreciate her even more. All 4 of her. As her color and personality bring out the best in whatever is her companion, my garden features two standards and two decidedly shrubby accents in the mixed borders.
Now Lillian is not a constant bloomer, but a consistent one. When this mild- maintenance babe is in bloom, she is the center of attention.
Perhaps the most important lesson Miss 'Lillian Austin' taught me is that when you think you are in love- jump. When I left her waiting after our first meeting in Pasadena, I was very fortunate to have found her again.