Saturday, August 15, 2009

Adieu Mike

"Hi Paul, it's Mike"

This is a once or twice a week phone greeting usually around 8:30 AM on many a morning. The Mike was Malcom (Mike) Lowe. What followed was a rose conversation that could head in any direction from what roses to carry, to propagation, to new roses to find and always concludes with Mike asking about Pam and how we are doing personally.

A little background.

Mike collected roses for years - mostly old roses. He began his collection in a time when in many cases the only way you could get many old roses in the U.S. was to bring them in from Europe. And import Mike did. Plants from here, budwood from there, the same variety from two different sources to compare them. All documented in a spreadsheet and photographed over and over again with the slides carefully sorted into reams of notebooks.

"Have you ever thought of starting a rose nursery?"

Was the conversation that started Ashdown Roses. Mike and Irene ran Lowe's Roses, a true labor of love and a nursery with a broad ranging selection of rose treasures.

Pam and I were thinking of leaving Los Angeles and permanently moving to our home in the Carolinas. Mike and Irene wanted to slow down a bit and Mike thought I might be interested in starting a rose nursery and continuing their work.

"Irene and I will drive down and give you hand".

Was the start of our first test crop budded in South Carolina now some 14 years ago. Mike and Irene piled into their station wagon and drove the 1000 miles from Nashua, NH to help me work with two budders I'd brought in. They not only brought more budwood but did tags, gave advice; anything they could do to help further me along by sharing their expertise gathered over 20 plus years.

"Let me send you cuttings"

Was the answer I know I can expect when I needed another rose from his garden to add to my collection. The only thing he ever asked for in return was to send him plants to sell out of his garden in the summer. He even offered to pay shipping and a small fee for them. We would just "add it to his bill" both knowing there is no way it would ever become a real one.

"Paul, It's Irene. Mike died today"

Was the totally unexpected phone call I got a week ago.

"Hi Mike, it's Paul. Thank you and Godspeed my Friend"

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