One of the first things I discovered when I moved to Bisbee, AZ is that roses thrive in the area. A couple of years ago, I planted a Rosa Banksiae in honor of the famous rose living in Tombstone. My rose's annual show of flowers has arrived so I thought I would share with you the story of the largest rose bush in the world.

Sphinx Moth's rose
2013 first Rosa Banksiae flower in Sphinx Moth's Garden

The Daily Bucket is a regular feature of the Backyard Science group. It is a place where we share our observations about the natural world. Whether we note the spring migrating birds or the first buds on your trees, we are building a resource to learn more about the patterns of nature and how they may be changing. Everyone is welcome to contribute!  Just tell us what you are seeing in your backyard or wherever you are roaming and approximately where your observations come from.
Ethal Robertson Macia
Ethal Robertson Macia - The Lady of the Rose
The Tombstone Rose legend tells of a young newly wed, Mary Gee, who left her home in Scotland to travel to Tombstone with her mining engineer husband in 1885. They stayed at the mining company'€™s boarding house where she formed a friendship with the caretaker, Amelia Adamson. You can imagine the arid landscape and the rough mining town would be difficult adjustment for a young woman from a greener part of the world, thus it is remembered that Mary was terribly homesick. When Mary moved into a permanent residence, her family in Scotland sent her several rooted plant clippings from the family garden to brighten her spirits. She gave her friend, Amelia, one of the rooted clippings of the white Lady Banksias Rose and together they planted it in the patio behind the boarding house.

After the mining company pulled out of Tombstone, the adobe boarding house operated as a hotel. In 1930, Bert and Ethel Macia bought the property and changed the name to the Rose Tree Inn when the rose bush became popular. Ethel managed the hotel and later became known as the Lady of the Rose. Robert Ripley hailed the rose bush or rather tree at this point as "The World's Largest Rose"€ and it currently holds the title in the Guinness Book Of World Records. Tombstone celebrated the 9,000 sq. ft. rose bush's 128th blooming birthday this month.

tombstone rosebush 1943 postcard
1943 postcard
Tombstone Rose Canopy
2013 Tombstone Rose Canopy
House Finch
House Finch in the canopy
Under the canopy
Under the canopy
Tombstone Rose trunk
My partner standing 6'1" + boots next to the trunk of the rose bush
Rosa Banksiae

This rose originates in China and there called "woody perfume flower". The first to arrive was a double white procured by William Kerr from a garden in Kwangzhou near Canton while he lived and collected there from 1803 to 1811, jointly sponsored by Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew and the Dutch East India company. His white rose arrived at Kew in 1807. It was classified by English botanist Robert Brown, who chose the name in honor of the wife of the director of the garden, Sir Joseph Banks.

Tombstone's Rose legend resonates with me because I have a rose bush from my childhood home. Sure, it has had its setbacks from being uprooted several times and living in a large pot for years at a time but somehow it has survived. It continues to reward me with a powerful fragrance that centers my soul.

Do you have anything living in your yard that reminds you of where you come from, a dear friend, or of a special event in your life? I invite you to add your backyard news to the daily bucket and lets see where it travels.

Originally posted to Backyard Science on Sat Apr 20, 2013 at 08:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Baja Arizona Kossacks.

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