Roses at Greenwood Cemetery, Jackson, MS

White cemetery rose

I often visit cemeteries on my travels. My sweetheart is drawn to them, looking for curiosities such as green men, weeping angels and tough plants. At first I thought it was all a bit ghoulish, but several years on, I’ve come to appreciate their different characters. Some are neglected now; overgrown, but romantic for all that. Others are still neatly tended, formal, official.

One that I particularly love to visit is Greenwood Cemetery, a block or so away from the centre of Jackson, MS, where an extensive collection of roses grow ‘wild’. The site dates back to 1821. More than 100 unknown soldiers lie here, as well as Southern author, Eudora Welty, herself a rose lover. 

Cemetery rose

If you think of roses as fussy or fragile, think again. Other than being carefully positioned between the graves to help protect them from the city workers’ string trimmers, these roses manage just fine on their own. Any plant that doesn’t adapt gradually fades away.

'Mutabilis' rose

They’re grown by rule breakers. The soil is not enriched before they are planted (usually thought of as a cardinal sin, unless the soil already happens to be humus-rich and creamy textured, not sun baked hard as the soil is here). The plants are never watered, other than by the heavens, not even at planting, in a climate that can be challenging at times for some people, never mind a rose. Rosarians often quote the mantra ‘provide a regular, deep soaking during the first year until the rose is well-established’. I’m pretty sure three summer months in succession without rain doesn’t count, even if the drought is most likely broken by a downpour!

Roses growing against a gravestone

I should perhaps declare an interest: my sweetheart has often hauled truckloads of own root antique and modern roses here, given in lieu of his lecture fees, from The Antique Rose Emporium. They are left in the care of Cecile Wardlaw, the Executive Director of the Greenwood Cemetery Association and her team of volunteers who dedicate time and resources to help preserve the cemetery and its monuments. Their community spirited activities include holding regular planting events and workshops where they teach people how to root roses from cuttings.

Today over 200 roses, mostly Chinas with some floribundas and polyanthas, are grown anonymously, so they can be judged on their own merits, for the pleasure of visitors. They’re the type that is known as everblooming in the US, although I prefer the English term, repeat flowering. I’ve visited the site at various times in the year and have never seen it without at least some blooms, though at this time of the year, they could best be described as stragglers.

'Martha Gonzales' rose

At their peak in Spring, the roses are a joyful sight, making a wonderful way to celebrate the lives commemorated here.

Rosa 'Graham Thomas'

If you’d like to reach out to the Greenwood Cemetery Association to find out more about this historic cemetery, or offer help to maintain it, you can find them on Facebook.

2016 has seen far too many of our creative heroes and heroines taken from us. I’m dedicating this post to their memory, in particular Alan Rickman, my favourite actor.

24 thoughts on “Roses at Greenwood Cemetery, Jackson, MS

  1. impossiblebebong says:

    Great post, great pictures, great place. I love cemetery too. In my younger years I often visit graveyards at two in the morning to play spirit of the glass or simply wander around. They say connection to the other side are stronger where people are buried especially alive, that’s why one time I passed the night in an abandoned collapsed due to engineering faults subdivision because they say there were ghosts roaming around the place. I’m getting sidetracked again. Anyway, I love your pictures as always.

  2. Andrew Seal says:

    Honoured to be in your company today on WordPress Discover’s Glimpse into 2017 today. Congratulations and best wishes for a Happy New Year. Good luck with learning CSS 🙂

    • susurrus says:

      It was a real pleasure to be asked to contribute, wasn’t it? I loved your creative response. Thanks for the encouragement with the CSS – I’ve let things slide a little over the holidays.

  3. Oddment says:

    I think the roses are an exceptional way to declare that it isn’t only about death; it’s about remembering, as you say in your dedication. I agree that the blooms celebrate the lives that were lived. A cemetery often has a deep sense of the personal, and I think the roses deepen that. And did you notice that glorious bud in the background of those peachy-golden-pink roses?

  4. sportsattitudes says:

    I think cemeteries often make for the most interesting of pictures because of all the mother nature life surrounding the stark images of death. Seeing plants flourishing in places where weathered monuments reside. Remembering…honoring…hope.

    • susurrus says:

      Plants add atmosphere to any green space. Greenwood Cemetery has lots of other classic southern staples too, including a wisteria arch (though I’ve yet to see it at the peak of flower), magnolias, crape myrtles, camellias, gardenias, nandinas, daffodils and tradescantia.

  5. Heyjude says:

    Such beautiful roses. The blush pink one near the beginning of the post is lovely! I’m a bit of a cemetery stalker too in search of the unusual.

  6. Dawn says:

    I like to visit a local cemetery too on my travels. Lots of interesting stories to be figured out at those. Also love love love the roses!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and following too!

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