When I am far away from home, I long for the quiet and comfort, the silky softness of old sheets and all the old familiar things which make home our retreat, our refuge from the jangling world. Here is a story of somebody else who missed her home.
Years ago a young West Australian girl, Cecilia Lucy Daphne Panten, born in 1921, met and fell in love with a handsome American and in 1947 became a war bride and followed her husband to California. The American way of life was wonderful, they had three daughters and one of her names Daphne, was abbreviated to Dee. Then came a divorce, and a second marriage to Herb Bennett. Dee started growing miniature roses and encouraged by Ralph Moore, learnt to breed with them. In 1972 she turned her backyard in Chula Vista into a nursery she called Tiny Petals Nursery and HelpMeFind.com.roses is showing 105 roses bred by her
In 1986 she won an Award of Excellence for the apricot miniature she had named after her friend, the Californian rosarian and rose judge Jean Kenneally. ‘Jean Kenneally’ won many other awards and it was considered to be one of the most perfect exhibition miniature roses. Bred from one of Dee’s favourites ‘Futura’, a giant of an orange-red hybrid tea 1975 x ‘Party Girl’ a 1979 mini, ‘Jean Kenneally’ had a high centred form, vigour, some fragrance, 26 petals and an apricot colour that faded a little in hot climates. A great little rose. For me it grows in an upright fashion about 50cm high and the sprays are much looser than other minis, more or less having one bloom to each long stem.
I bought my bush of ‘Jean Kenneally’ budded on to R. fortuniana rootstock in 1999 from Gardeners Getaway in Manjimup and gave it a sunny position in The Wee Garden, right by the path. There was space then so I struck more cuttings and lined the path with another five plants. They were so lovely, underplanted with Pyrethrum aureum Golden Moss - which looks just like it sounds. But gradually over the years the own-root plants grew smaller and just faded away. In my soil ‘Jean Kenneally’ has proved not to be one of the great survivors on their own roots. I was left with just the one 1999 plant budded on R. fortuniana and I hate having just one of anything, it is too risky, so I struck another and am now growing a pot of it on the veranda. I now have just these two plants. Not enough, but it will have to do at my stage of life.
I am especially fond of this tiny rose because of its breeder. In 1987 when Dee Bennett knew she had terminal cancer, she gave her nursery to her daughters, (who slowly introduced the rest of her roses that were in the pipeline and later sold the remaining nursery stock to Greenheart Farms); Dee said goodbye to her children and grandchildren, and returned to her birthplace in Perth to spend her days with her mother and other family members. She at last came home.