Roses of Clifton
by Cat Heller
We all know that our valley has a long history of copper. But did you know that it also has a long history of roses?
Take a walk through the older parts of Clifton and you’ll find hundreds of ancient roses.
Modern roses are fuller and have more striking colors, but nothing compares to the smell of those unassuming old roses that our old town has in so many yards.
If you’re in need of a smile, walk down Chase Creek Street and smell the lovely overgrown roses in front of the JC Penny building.
Taking pictures of her 50-year-old roses, the lovely 84-year-old Lady Sass of South Clifton told me this:
“My father’s name was Royse Sanders Ross, better known as Rosie.
We moved to Clifton when I was 2 – and in the 1940’s we all lived in a tent on our lot on Leonard Street while he built our house.
He planted those beautiful blue boy roses that are lavender color and smell so sweet in 1972. In 1990, after he passed away, my younger brother Larry transplanted them all to the backyard as he thought they would be so beautiful in front of the ivy. After I moved back to Clifton late in 1999, I decided I wanted to share them with Clifton and moved them back to the front yard by the block fence, facing Leonard Street in 2001.
In 2019, my second daughter Pamela gifted me with a blue girl rose: the same beautiful lavender big rose, the only difference was it smelt a little sweeter than the blue boys. In 1992, Larry planted the red climbing roses along the front porch; dad had planted a pink rose that Larry transplanted next to the ivies, that bloom every year.
My father always had a green thumb like his father and loved growing a vegetable garden as well as many, many different varieties of flowers. He planted a young lilac tree in the yard front yard – and it died the day that my father did. I’ve been told that when a tree is planted and cared for by one person, when they die so does the tree die. And, while the lilac tree is long gone, my father’s roses are as vibrant as ever.”