Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Move With A Touch So Light.

"You've got to hold it right feel the distance to the ground
Move with a touch so light until it's rhythm you have found
Then you'll know what I know"

Thus is the chorus of one of my favourite Dougie Maclean songs - The Scythe Song. He sings the tale of learning to work a Scythe from an elder. The subtext to me has always been learn from those who came before you. The second part is about patience. If you try to force or muscle, it won't work. Instead just relax, find it's rhythm and "then you'll know what I know".

I feel the same way when I am lucky enough to "sit at the feet" of some great rose folk and drink in what they say.

One of the greatest days of my rose life was one spent alone with Ralph Moore at his nursery in California. Ralph at 90 plus ran me into the ground roaring through his greenhouses to see what he was up to. But I remember something he said when the conversation turned to how he responded when people asked when he was going to retire.

"I have new seedlings this year that will take at least seven years to evaluate so how can I retire now. I'll have to wait at least seven more years." Not an exact quote but I think you gather the sentiment. Mr. Moore spent a good part of the day showing me how to bud this way or that way and towards the end I begin to find a little of the ryhtym that flew deftly from his fingers.

As I cast my rose history mind's eye back over what the late Jack Harkness called "The Makers of Heavenly Roses", I think how lucky those of us in the rose nursery business are to be the caretakers of the work of the masters. From Beales to Vibert and everyone in between we are the caretakers of centuries of experience, wisdom and gift.

Mr. Moore once told me he wanted to make sure everyone knew what he knew about rose breeding so someone could pick up where he left off instead of starting over again.

It is our responsiblity to use it wisely and carry it on in their name. And to stop and smell the roses along the way.

And thusly rhytms are found, we will know what they know, and if we are lucky carry it forward.

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