On Saturday last, I discovered this tiny retiring flower hidden deep within my climbing 'Jeanne Lajoie'. Nestled and covered by the new foliage, visible only from inside the pergola on which the climber rests, she is the first blossom from 'Jeanne Lajoie' for the new season. What a metaphor for the year we're having, this coy little pink jewel hiding and protected within a green-leafed cave.
I've wondered if the climate is ever going to settle down this year; warm, then cool, warmer, then back to freezing. Yesterday it was 90ºF in Kansas, but there was snow on my son's lawn in the Colorado foothills. I finally purchased tomato plants on Sunday and then found that I couldn't plant them yet, learning this morning that the lows of the next five nights are all in the low 40's, a temperature that will stunt the tomatoes. I have full sympathy for the reticence of this quiet pink blossom to cast caution aside and declare that rose time has really arrived.
My Saturday chores included an effort to finish trimming the roses near the house for the second time this year. I had pruned most of them minimally near the end of March, but late freezes in April had blasted the canes of many down to near ground level. 'Jeanne Lajoie' survived at her six foot height, but the canes of her arbor neighbor, 'Zephirine Drouhin', were blackened and dead, similar to several other roses in that border. Separating and removing dead canes from within foot-high new basal growth is a delicate task, requiring concentration worthy of a jigsaw puzzle enthusiast. One should always, however, pause respectfully from one's labors in order to admire great beauty. The lure of a beautiful woman or a perfect flower both similarly affect an aging gardener.
My Merriam-Webster dictionary defines "coy" as having a shy or sweetly innocent quality that is often intended to be attractive or to get attention. I doubt that a better description exists of this early flower of 'Jeanne Lajoie'. It playfully caught my eye as I was quickly examining the bush looking for dead canes, quietly whispering from within the shaded interior in an effort to be noticed, to be appreciated for the gift of its mere presence. This is not the first of my roses to bloom. 'Marie Bugnet' led off the parade a few days prior and 'Harrison's Yellow' and 'Therese Bugnet' have since joined the queue. This flower is the first to remind me, however, that full summer is just around the corner, just a few days or weeks farther down the path. I paused in quiet homage to the demure gem and then moved on, secure in my new knowledge that at least one rose believes that the world is due for another summer.