Fish and Roses

The man at the fish counter had a puzzled look as he wrapped my fish.  Perhaps it was because I told him to give me any old fish and not to bother removing the head or tail.  As explanation, I mumbled something about gardens and roses and grandmothers.

I didn’t buy the fish to eat, you see; I bought it for my new David Austin rose.  The idea goes back a long way.  I am lucky enough to have known both my grandmothers.  The hours I  spent with them were learning times.  I watched and asked --  as children do; and they showed me how and explained why -- as grandmothers do.  Now when I approach a household task, or tend to a cut or work in the garden, I remember my grandmothers.

In this particular case, it was my paternal grandmother’s  rose care I remembered.  She lived on the family farm and didn’t use purchased fertilizers for her gardens.   She had her own fertilizer sources!  One of her techniques was to plant a fish beneath each new rosebush and deep in the ground beside established bushes.  Of course, in those days there was always someone who would go to the creek and bring back a few suckers for grandmother's roses.

Back to my story -- my newest David Austin rose had arrived.  As I planned where it would go and how I was going to plant it, I remembered my grandmother’s technique.  That is how I found myself at the fish counter talking about roses and grandmothers.   I bought a good-sized fish and placed it into the bottom of the hole I had dug for my new rose. Following my grandmother's method, I added a bit of soil and then planted the new rose. You see, my grandmother had wonderful roses.

Geoffrey Hamilton (the Austin rose that got the fish) is a mass of blooms most of the summer.  Whenever I enjoy the display, I remember grandmother and her fish.  Nowadays, however, I use frozen fish.