The Shared Love of Mr. Lincoln’s Rose

Dear Reader:

When I went back out yesterday the second bud on the Mr. Lincoln’s Rose bush had opened and was beautiful. The bloom from Friday, however, had already spotted up (white spots) and lost its deep deep beauty. Someone told me it was probably the heat….since we have been in the mid-nineties unfortunately.

So I decided to go ahead and cut the new bloom off so I could enjoy it for as long as possible inside. I, then started looking at the history behind the choice to give this particular tea rose hybrid the name of a famous President….two rose growers made this choice in 1964…when the centennial remembrance of the Civil War was in the news a lot.

What lead also to the name was the fact that this particularly rose shoots up straight and tall quickly and can grow several feet if left alone. Lincoln, of course, was our tallest President and known for his tall, lean frame. The feel of luscious velvet (another dominant characteristic) also refers back to Lincoln’s love of velvet dresses that women wore to the White House dances. He once told Mary he liked to feel that texture when they danced.

The most important attribute, however, is the scent. When I read that fact, at first I was sad because I had not picked up on a fragrance. With all the cancer treatments I have had over the years I have lost a substantial amount of smell. But now I held the rose right up to my nose and was blown away. The most exquisite fragrance that I have ever had the pleasure of sniffing. I can’t even describe it…it is just that amazing.

One article described the fragrance this way….‘Mr. Lincoln’ has an outstandingly strong damask fragrance that seduces the senses.”

Dave’s Garden describes it as the “most luscious heavenly scent.” (*If heaven does smell like that….count me in.)

While researching I accidentally came across the sweetest story of a love between husband and wife and how the Mr. Lincoln Rose played a major role in keeping their love “alive.”

Excerpts from story: Mr. Lincoln’s Rose (told by Margaret Williams)

  • This story, told by Margaret Williams was written in tribute to her beloved husband, Daniel, who shared her love of gardening with equal enthusiasm.

“Though we loved them all, our favorite rose bush was our Mr. Lincoln. Mr. Lincoln produced the most fragrant red blooms imaginable. It was always cause for celebration when Mr. Lincoln produced his first rose of the season. We would cut it and ceremoniously carry it into the house to be put in a place of honor. For days we would ooh and ahh over the rose as it filled our home with fragrance.

Mr. Lincoln’s last bloom usually came around the end of October. The other bushes had all stopped producing by then, so his bloom was cause for much nostalgia. We’d cut the rose and bring it to our table and enjoy it even while the petals fell. Then we knew we’d have to wait until April for another.

The last ten years we had together were very beautiful. We greatly enjoyed each other’s company. When the winter rains and cold would keep us inside, Daniel would read to me. We didn’t like watching TV or movies and preferred the quiet of a comfortable corner where Daniel would read. Sometimes he read to me from gardening books; sometimes he’d pick a biography of a great person, and sometimes we would get engrossed in a mystery. It didn’t matter what he read, I just loved sitting there and listening to his soothing and compassionate voice.

Daniel complained of some pains in his chest, but we didn’t think much of them. One evening towards the end of October, he had a massive heart attack and died before the paramedics could come to our remote country house. I didn’t even get a chance to say good-by.

The next morning I walked out in the garden. Mr. Lincoln had produced his last rose of the season that morning. “This is for Daniel,” I thought. I picked the rose and brought it into the house, placing it by my favorite picture of my beloved.

Daniel was my mate for life. His absence was a great loss to me. We were always side by side in every aspect of life. So, in the time after his passing, I felt totally alone. My children and grandchildren were very supportive and all wanted me to stay at their houses so I wouldn’t feel so alone. I preferred to be alone in my home. It was here I could better remember my husband.

The winter was long and hard that year. Nights would find me sitting in Daniel’s chair, reading to myself. The sadness and grief of my loss grew stronger and stronger, like a choking weed in our beloved garden. “If only I knew that Daniel was close to me now,” I sadly thought, “Then I would be able to bear the pain and loneliness.”

Finally one February night, I cried out asking for assurance that Daniel was close. My heart was breaking from my loss. I wiped my tears and sat in Daniel’s chair, remembering every special quality about him. Suddenly I began to smell the very faint fragrance of a Mr. Lincoln rose.

“That’s odd,” I thought, “I must be imagining this.”

I got up and walked around our house. It was cold and rainy outside and there were no flowers anywhere in the house. I returned to Daniel’s chair and the scent grew stronger, making it clear that this was definitely not my imagination. I felt myself surrounded by the fragrance of Mr. Lincoln’s finest roses.

Then I knew without a doubt, this was Daniel’s way of letting me know that he was still close to me. Of course, I smiled to myself, what a perfectly logical way for Daniel to let his presence be known to me. It was, after all, our favorite scent. My beloved husband and dearest friend had never left me. He is by my side, loving me still.

The amazing thing is that the scent of Mr. Lincoln’s roses stayed in our home for a full week. My children all came and smelled for themselves and received a reassurance of their dad’s presence. After our last child had come and smelled the fragrance, the scent gradually faded as mysteriously as it had come.


So until tomorrow….“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.”
From an Irish headstone”
Richard Puz –  The Carolinian

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

I can keep the flowers alive with lots of watering but the bushes are drying up…the poor azaleas leaves are completely wilted…and nothing in sight but sun and high nineties….we need rain desperately!

  • Got a wonderful surprise in the mail…a book…a picture book…as in an album book of three of my grandchildren…Rutledge, Lachlan, and Eloise. How far we have come from the taped on pictures in old photo albums we had as children and parents of children. The books are so cool and so easy as a keepsake! Thanks Dingles!

About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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2 Responses to The Shared Love of Mr. Lincoln’s Rose

  1. bcparkison says:

    Oh Becky…your story hit really hard this morning. I so miss him. Things just change so suddenly and finding my way is proving harder than I would have ever thought. I know I am in the hands of my loving Heavenly Father but things are just so different.


  2. I am so sorry and saddened at your loss Beverly…I love the inscription on the Irish tombstone, however, and have set it to memory…”Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, Love leaves a memory no one can steal….” Hang on to those wonderful memories Beverly” and look for the God Winks remind you he is still close.


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