‘Peggy Martin Rose’
2021 Gulf District Rose of the Year
Taken from article by Maureen Detweiler
On that dark and stormy night, August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck the mouth of the Mississippi River causing water to overtop the levees of Plaquemines Parish, and to flood Peggy’s home and garden with 20 feet of water.
Peggy and M.J. had evacuated to a relative’s home in Gonzales, Louisiana, prior to the storm, but Peggy’s parents refused to leave and perished in the flood waters. Peggy lost her beloved parents, her home, and her garden. It was several weeks before the water subsided enough for Peggy to return. She remembers thinking upon returning: “The colorless terrain, covered with gray ash and black sticks reminded me of photos of the destruction of Hiroshima.” But then, she glimpsed one green branch, growing on the side of the shed where she had planted a pink rambler and thought: “How on earth did that survive this destruction?” It was a reblooming pink rambler which had been passed along to Peggy in 1989 by Ellen Dupriest who had gotten her cuttings from a relative in New Orleans. Although the identity of the rose was unknown, Peggy gave cuttings to friends, neighbors and the many visitors to her garden.
In 2003, Dr. William Welch, a rose expert, author, and horticulturist at Texas A & M, visited the garden and received cuttings. He quickly became a great fan of Peggy’s thornless climber. Then, in 2005, the Garden Club of America established the “Zone IX Horticulture Restoration Fund” to help restore public gardens which had been destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Dr. Welch said that an idea came to him in the middle of the night to propagate and sell Peggy’s rose as a fundraiser for the Garden Club of America’s worthy project.
After securing Peggy’s full support he named the rose “Peggy Martin.” He then enlisted three well-known old rose nurseries in the south to propagate and sell the rose with a portion of the profit going to the Fund. Then, a two-page article in Southern Living magazine and several newspaper articles appeared detailing the story of “the Katrina rose.”