By Regina Elling
A rose by any other name is still called love, at least by Ruth Jackson. Now 92 years old, Jackson has had at least one enduring passion throughout her long and eventful life—her love affair with roses.
Many homes in Ramona have roses, but few can match the exuberance of Jackson’s plantings; more than 800 roses surround her property. But with her age and declining health, Jackson is simply physically unable to maintain her pride and joy any longer.
Her son, Bill Weeks, is often in town to help his mother, as well as maintain the garden. Weeks said that his mother bought the property more than 30 years ago.
“Mom was looking for a home in this area, and when we came to this house, the yard was spectacular. There was a lot of stuff already in the garden, and she bought it on the spot,” Weeks said with a laugh. “She actually said she would take it without even seeing the inside of the house.
“Mom and her husband, now deceased, used to work in the garden every single day and go dancing several nights a week. Tons of people would come out to see the roses; there were even bus tours to see them.”
In addition to growing the plants, his mother, her husband and his sister were all rose judges.
But with Weeks and most of Jackson’s family and close friends now living out of town, it has become much harder to manage the pruning and care needed by the garden’s 800 thorny residents. This year, Weeks asked Sandra Wolfe for help, and she promptly reached out to her fellow members in the Ramona Garden Club. Between the club members, Weeks and family friends as close as Vista and as far away as Long Beach and Los Angeles, a rose pruning party was held in late January. Nearly a dozen people showed up to help.
“Even if I didn’t have a clue, just seeing what she had and knowing that she was a rose judge, you know she has quality roses,” said Wolfe. “They may just be rose bushes, but it’s obvious they were planted with such love.”
Teri Schmidt, garden club member, was drawn to help because of her own experience with the garden.
”I remember this garden from visiting it many years ago,” she said. “I wanted to go back and help Ruth out. It was a beautiful day, and it was wonderful to see such a nice group of people working so hard. And, of course, it was really nice to see Ruth so happy.”
Another garden club member, Pam Marler, also spent the day hard at work.
“You could tell that she really appreciated what we were doing,” Marler said. “Since many of the bushes we pruned had roses on them, we surrounded her with the cut blooms. She had a good time arranging them and judging them.”
Nearly everyone involved in the work admits they were moved by the history of the garden and the love that is so evident there. As Wolfe says, “Who puts in 800 rose bushes anymore? This is such a beautiful garden and it’s great to be able to help save something that shows so much tradition and heart.”