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A House With A History Of Roses : Urban Rose Preservation
Urban Rose Preservation

Not all rose discoveries are made in ancient cemeteries and deserted gardens. Sometimes, wonderful roses have been cherisned and preserved for decades. Families may not always know the "official" name of "Grandmother's Rose," but the roses are not less valued for that. Here is a discovery made by Kaye Kettrey, in Fort Smith Arkansas.

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A House With A History of Roses

The house was built in Ft. Smith, Arkansas circa 1909 by the Birnie family, for their daughter, Annie Catherine Birne Whitlow and her husband. There was a garden in the lot where the house was constructed and several roses survived the construction. The picture of the climbing rose was taken about 1912 . Mrs. Whitlow lived in the home until 1938, surviving her husband by a few years. When I was first called about this rose, it was supposed that the rose growing there was the one photographed in 1912. Identification from the photo, however, would be difficult.

The rose we DID identify, was another white rose. 'Frau Karl Drushki, introduced in 1901. Enter Charles and Angelina Liberto . . .

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Charles Liberto and Angelina La Martina were 21 and 15 respectively, when they wed in Baltimore, MD. on May 18, 1920, as arranged by their Italian immigrant parents. The wedding picture shows a beautiful white rose in the bouquet and in his lapel. Is this wedding rose 'Frau Karl Drushki'?

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A short time after their marriage, the Libertos migrated to Ft. Smith, where Charles had kin. There, the Libertos eventually purchased the home that had belonged to the Whitlows.

Charles and Angelina's daughter, who still lives in the house next door, recalls the beautiful white rose as one loved by her mother and grown in her yard for many years. Is this the rose shown in the wedding picture?? Did Angelina bring cuttings of her wedding rose west, to plant at her new home? Did she recall the white rose and find it again for her Fort Smith garden?

One thing we know: 'Frau Karl Druschki' has grown in the Liberto garden as long as their daughter can recall — over 60 years. Its caretaker today is Shandra Bremner, a dedicated steward of the rose and the home.

Shandrah has carefully researched and preserved much of the history of the house and of he people who preceded her and her husband. I was thrilled by her enthusiasm and her plans to replace the other two Frau Karl's that used to grace the back yard on either side of the one remaining. Thanks to the Bremners, the "House With A History Of Roses" will continue to be the home of the beautiful white rose for years to come.

Reprinting, use or distribution of this article is prohibited without prior approval from its author(s).  Copyright 2023 by Kaye Kettrey, all rights reserved.
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