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Rosy Prospects

Rosy Prospects
September 2018

A prolific bloomer famed for its resilience, the ‘Peggy Martin’ is one rose even beginners can grow

At Colonial Lake, ‘Peggy Martin’ roses ascend palmetto palms.

‘Peggy Martin’ is an optimistic rambler. While her story is rooted in tragedy, she climbs upward, each spring bursting with a flush of pink blooms that’ll return—just less dramatically—through fall. “She’s part of our Southern heritage,” says Jim Martin, the Charleston Parks Conservancy director of programs who happens to share a name with the thornless rose he selected to spiral up Colonial Lake’s row of palmetto palms.

This fast grower is a recent addition to the canon: In 2005, Hurricane Katrina flooded the rose garden of Louisiana resident Peggy Martin. Two plants survived—one an unnamed rambling rose handed down to Peggy via cutting. Texan Dr. William C. Welch worked with nurseries, including The Antique Rose Emporium, to propagate and sell ‘Peggy Martin’ to aid in relief efforts.

At Colonial Lake, the roses have proven their mettle through numerous floods. In fact, says Jim, “There’s nothing finicky about this plant. It just needs full sun, regular water, a yearly addition of compost, and light pruning after the major spring flowering.” At first, you’ll have to tie the stem to its support structure—whether palm, trellis, or fence—but ultimately, it can climb self-sufficiently to 15 or more feet. Fall is an ideal time to plant, but aim to order from an online retailer now, as wait lists abound for this rare and resilient beauty.