Although this could very well be a picture of me finding a new treasure at a favorite nursery, it's actually an illustration by David Catrow for a children's book called Plantzilla.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Visiting Raft Island Roses

On one of our Saturday adventures, Alison and I visited Raft Island Roses in Gig Harbor.  If you live in the greater Tacoma area, you may be familiar with the name as these folks sell their roses at several farmers' markets. 

It had been years since last I visited  RIR but the memory of  rose perfume delighting my olfactory receptors was strong.

I know very little about roses and always say that they're really not my thing but somehow, there are quite a few of them in my garden.    These lovely and fragrant climbers cover the fence of the old parking area.

I went looking for a Westerland rose but they were out.  Joy Creek's inventory says that they have 36.  Alison and I need to go to Portland anyway.  Some sources say that Westerland has a strong fragrance; others say that it's a light fragrance everyone agrees that it blooms freely and beautifully. 
Lots of gorgeous roses at this nursery and some surprises that you'll see closer to the end of the post.  Labeling was sometimes hard to find or missing but the staff knew the rose names.
Chrysler Imperial

Taboo (guessing)

La Rose Complète    -     Rainer Maria Rilke   
J’ai une telle conscience de ton
être, rose complète,
que mon consentement te confond
avec mon coeur en fête.
Je te respire comme si tu étais,
rose, toute la vie,
et je me sens l’ami parfair
d’une telle amie.

I have such awareness of your
being, perfect rose,
that my will unites you
with my heart in celebration.
I breathe you in, rose,
as if you were all of life,
and I feel the perfect friend
of a perfect friend.
 Contre Qui, Rose,
avez-vous adopté
ces épines?
Votre joie trop fine
vous a-t-elle forcée
de devenir cette chose
Mais de qui vous protège
cette arme exagérée?
Combien d’ennemis vous ai-je
qui ne la craignaient point?
Au contraire, d’été en automne,
vous blessez les soins
qu’on vous donne.
Double Delight

Against whom rose,
have you assumed these thorns?
Is it your too fragile joy
that forced you to become
this armed thing?
But from whom does it protect you,
this exaggerated defence?
How many enemies have I
lifted from you who did not fear it at all.
On the contrary, from summer to autumn
you wound the affection
that is given you.
 Abandon entouré d’abandon,
tendresse touchant aux tendresses…
C’est ton intérieur qui sans cesse
se caresse, dirait-on;
se caresse en soi-même,
par son propre reflet éclairé.
Ainsi tu inventes le thème
du Narcisse exaucé.
 Abandon surrounding abandon,
Tenderness touching tenderness…
Your oneness endlessly
Caresses itself, so they say;
through its own clear reflection.
Thus you invent the theme
of Narcissus fulfilled.
 Rainbow Sorbet
Several of Rilke's Rose poems have been set to music by Morton Lauridsen.  Click below to hear the entire cycle.
Or click here to listen only to Dirait-on, the very popular final song.

Red Intuition really grabbed my attention!   The buds look similar in coloration to a broken tulip.

This one is just starting to open and the outer petals have a green stripe down the middle.  The broken coloration seems to be more subtle on the inner petals but we'll have to see what happens as it opens and ages.

Unfortunately there were no blooms fully open.  This almost came home with me but it's a hybrid tea...'nuf said?  It had incredibly long and strong stems for each flower & a few dozen bushes of this would be fabulous for those of you who have an acre or two devoted to a cutting garden.  Still, it was very pretty.  Maybe a return visit is in order.

Look at some of the other surprises we found here.  Some of these non roses came home with us!

These had no label and the nice young person working there only knew that it was called a Pregnant Onion.  It was kind of interesting so Albuca bracteata came home with me. 
 And look at what Alison found!  Also without label, this Manfreda was pretty sweet!
 These were simply labeled "Agave." 
I also bought a Fallopia japonica 'variegata'  because it's beautiful and there's nothing quite as fun as asking garden guests if they've noticed your Fallopia.   The prices of the plants we bought were incredibly low.  We each got 3-4 large plants and spent less than $20.00.  They've lots of stuff in the greenhouses below that will be coming up to the sales areas soon.  I'll be visiting this place more frequently!   


  1. What a fantastic selection of roses you found, so many there that would have come home with me! Many thanks for leaving a comment, I will be back visiting soon!

    1. They were tempting! Glad that you'll be back!

  2. Roses are amazing, the poems and music are beautiful.

    They label agaves that way here, odd since they can mature in such a huge range difference of more than 10 feet with hardiness ranges from tropical to well below freezing.

    The Macho mocha manfreda should do well for Alison since it doesn't seem to like much sun or heat.

    1. Roses are very pretty and I love the fragrant ones!

      It's funny that agaves are labeled that way when there are so many that you can grow there.

  3. Oh, I hope that Manfreda does well. I thought it was probably Macho Mocha, even though it wasn't labeled. This was a great place for roses, and it was a treat to find the other stuff. I also got an Agave with bright green leaves and a rust red edge. No clue what it is, but I'm going to be bringing it in for the winter. I got so involved in reading the poetry, I almost skipped some rose pictures. Had to back up and look again.

    1. Alison I planted my 'Macho Mocha' last summer and left it in the ground for winter, it did pretty well...only a few mushy leaves and now it's getting huge! Of course last winter wasn't really much of a winter...

    2. I love Rilke's poetry! Another fun Saturday with Alison!

  4. I wish the rose really was named "Taboo (guessing)"...

    I love how the agaves are all set out so evenly with space all around them.

    1. That would be funny! This place was interesting in that some things were set out like that - perfect rows, space, etc. and in other areas, all kinds of plants were set out in a much more free form fashion.

  5. I've always been partial to yellow roses but that red intuition is really nice.

    1. The yellows seem to glow from within. I wonder what red intuition will look like when it's open.

  6. Rose nursery with a twist! And to sell Fallopia japonica variegata too (incidentally it is illegal to sell that plant here, not illegal to own though).

    1. I hand's seen Fallopia japonica variegata in a nursery for quite some time. Is it invasive there?

  7. You've got great pictures of stunning roses. So many beautiful roses! Happy weekend, Peter.

    1. They are such beautiful and fragrant flowers! Happy weekend to you Satu!

  8. I have a Westerland. The flower is beautiful, but it has some kind of disease and is pretty sickly.

    1. Rats! It's supposed to be fairly disease resistant in the PNW & several local garden celebs have been talking about it for a while now. You know, if more than one person gushes about a certain rose being one of their favorites for fragrance, it always makes me want to check it out. I'm pretty fond of 'Just Joey' which has a similar color and smells heavenly!

  9. Great shots of the roses, I like double delight and those climbers look gorgeous.

    1. Thanks Karen. It's always a special experience to see and smell so many beautiful roses.

  10. Beautiful images Peter. But, you saw all those roses and brought home a pregnant onion? Oh dear.

    I just looked up images of Fallopia japonica 'variegata' and it is lovely so now I understand about that one.

    1. I'm a really bad rose grower. Some years they get pruned; others not so much. Usually they all get a generous shovel of Tagro, our local biosolid fertilizer, in the spring and then they're on their own. Spraying is boring so I don't do it but I sometimes water during the summer. It's sort of a rose trial by fire garden so now would probably not be the best time to plant something new that would want attention. Pregnant onion was a fun oddity, like many of my favorite people.

  11. I've never been a big fan of roses either, but the few that were already here have been surprisingly undemanding, long-blooming and wonderful smelling: what's not to like?

    1. There are wonderful roses for lots of situations but for many of us the reputation of the whole clan has been besmirched by the chemically dependent hybrid tea rose ghettos so popular with many. As L'il Inez says in "Hairspray," "Segregation never, Integration now!"

  12. What a fun day! I really love roses, especially the old fashioned English types. I hope you find your Westerland. He's one of my faves. "Tea rose ghettoes"! Hysterical! I've always found rose gardens like those depressing. They seemed lonely and boring. I much prefer the "Everybody in the pool! It's a party!" approach. :o)

    1. Wish I could take credit for "rose ghetto" but I read it years ago in an Ann Lovejoy book.

  13. I feel pretty much the same way you do about roses. And what a surprise to find you quoting Rilke!

    1. A rose is a rose is a rose. Being a vocal musician, I love poetry & it thrills me to see how composers paint words.


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