Gone now. Gone forever. Something about the finality of that which kind of feels something is stuck in the throat.
I’d forgotten the name. We grew floribunda miniature roses in the four ten-by-one metre beds at the Cenotaph near Darling Street in Victoria Park.
I can’t describe how good a show they put on. It was almost too spectacular to be true.
Pink blossoms. ‘Floribunda’ means prolific or outstanding in masses of colour.
So I saw the late Mr. Steve Hiscox at the supermarket in Orana Mall.
I didn’t realize how terminally ill he was at that time.
“What are those miniature roses around the Cenotaph?” I asked him.
He was striding up the aisle like someone who would rather be somewhere else.
He gave me one of those looks. You know those glares you get when you ask a question and everyone thought you knew the answer and it must be some kind of a joke because you should know.
“China Doll,’ said Steve as he ran his thumb over a packet of leaf Bushell’s tea.
Before retirement Steve was officially our ranger in Victoria Park.
He used to look after the animals when we had an animal farm.
There were kangaroos, peacocks, assorted aviary birds, snakes and probably lots more.
It was all gone by the time I got there in 1989 but visitors would complain about it going at least once a fortnight.
Very popular, but it went.
Gone like the wind as Margaret Mitchell’s Rhett Butler would say; and frankly (my dear) I do give a damn.
Steve was my mentor you could say.
He did more gardening than ranger work.
His favourite site was the Cenotaph and his babies were the miniature roses.
We pruned the roses for special events.
Steve would be down on his knees for a whole day and then the next.
He and I would have our secateurs snipping the China Dolls and pulling out the Petty Spurge weeds.
Those roses used to drive me crazy with fiddly, small stems and tiny buds.
The nights we worried the timing and weather was right, while the days were filled in a cramped position.
Today the roses are replaced with Rosemary.
Many say it is more appropriate; certainly it is less maintenance.
A quick back and sides with a hedge trimmer machine and the job is done.
I smelt the pungent crush of Rosemary leaves for remembrance.
You may recall what you will.
I’ll always recollect the endearing sight of Steve bowed low over his ‘China Dolls’ with secateurs in hand, like he was giving a fond caress.