May 2018 Park of the Month: Colonial Lake
Peggy Martin Rose is Best In Show at Colonial Lake
From our Program Director Jim Martin
The walk down the Rutledge side of Colonial Lake is a wonderland of pink petals. The long cascading branches supported by the stiff, upright Palmetto palms allow the floral spectacle to reach out over the park’s primary path. Visitors and locals alike always ask about the rose, which while at its fullest in late spring, continues to send out flowers into the late fall and early winter. Peggy Martin, or sometimes referred to as the “Hurricane Katrina rose,” has a history that makes it unique and fitting for our Charleston-area gardens.
The “Peggy Martin Rose” was one of only two plants surviving 20 feet of salt water over the garden of Mrs. Peggy Martin in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana after the destruction of Hurricane Katrina in late August 2005. This reblooming, thornless climber, while given to Peggy in 1989, was later tracked to a garden in New Orleans. Peggy recalls, “When I first saw this rose, it was in full bloom and smothering an 8ft. wooden fence. It took my breath away! I had never seen a rose so lushly beautiful, with thornless bright green foliage that was disease free. All along the canes there were clusters of roses that resembled perfect nosegays of blooms.”
This bright spectacle has also proven hurricane worthy here in Charleston, as it has survived storms in the fall of 2016 and 2017. It also showed no signs of damage from the severe seven-day cold snap which recently occurred in early January 2018. Care for this southern selection is minimal. A yearly application of compost and a little late spring pruning after the plant’s first major flowering is all it takes. Growing them up a structure requires that they be manually tied but, with time, the rose will continue growing and weaving branches into each other, allowing for it to climb higher where needed. It can also be grown in a more horizontal fashion—as seen in Hazel Parker Playground on an open fence near the park’s recreation center.
Make Colonial Lake your next stop in downtown Charleston and share with us your favorite picture of the fabled Peggy Martin Rose on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.