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A number of years ago, Mel Hulse, of the San Jose Heritage Rose Garden, along with others from that garden, visited my garden in Southern California to obtain cuttings of my collection for their garden. One rose Mel was particularly struck by was Annie Laurie McDowell. At that time, it was simply referred to as Renae Seedling. Mel and others in San Jose began referring to it as "Super Renae" and Mel continued singing its praises. Along the way, I lost the original seedling to flat head apple borers. Mel maintained Annie Laurie McDowell and two or three other Renae seedlings he had collected from my garden.
A few years ago, I wanted to name a rose for a very dear friend who was responsible for introducing me to The Huntington Gardens and Library and encouraging me to become a volunteer there. Super Renae was the obvious choice. I emailed Mel and asked if he could bring me as many cuttings and bloom spires as possible as we were to meet in Visalia at Sequoia Nursery to film a documentary about Ralph Moore.
Being the kind gentleman he was and the loyal friend I'd grown to love, he not only brought me cuttings, but a large, foam ice chest FULL of blooming material! All were carefully wrapped and placed in ice to maintain them for the four days it would require before they could be taken to their potential namesake. We spent the time at Sequoia and accomplished our mission. I brought the ice chest home and called my dear friend, who invited me to join her for breakfast the following morning. I brought the ice chest and spent well over an hour cleaning and recutting the stems under water while she prepared our breakfast.
When all stems were finished, I'd filled a large antique water pitcher with many dozens of bloom clusters in prime condition. The pitcher was her grandfather's, and we placed it on her grandfather's secretary desk. He was a doctor and the case was full of his instruments and medical books. We enjoyed our breakfast while admiring the pitcher full of Annie Laurie McDowell sitting on her grandfather's desk. At that time, Annie Laurie was about 71, so you have an idea of the age of the desk, equipment, books and pitcher and water bowl.
Annie Laurie had sought the old Hybrid Tea, Annie Laurie, for years. It was an early Twentieth Century sport of Ophelia. The rose is extinct.
Had it not been for the keen eye, dedication and kindness of this fine gentleman and loyal friend, Annie Laurie McDowell would have become extinct years before finally accepting the name of my dear friend. And, Annie Laurie wouldn't have had a rose she loved bear her name in her last years of life. I sincerely miss them both.
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