The late first lady Barbara Bush is being remembered for many things this week, among them her literacy programs, her support of civil rights, her frankness, her long and happy marriage, and her role as wife and mother to presidents. Since our subject matter is sustainable living, eating and gardening, though, we’re taking a moment to recall her through something else – the Barbara Bush Rose.

The former first lady Barbara Bush in Portland in 2013.

The bush (lame pun intended) was named in her honor by Jackson & Perkins, a mail-order rose growing company that dates back to the 1870s. The company introduced the rose in 1991 in the midst of her husband’s term as president. At that time, anybody could write the company and submit a suggestion for a rose name (today, the company devises its own names), said company horticulturist Stephan Winterfeldt. “With someone like her, of course, it was a no-brainer,” he said.

We’re sorry to say that you can no longer buy the Barbara Bush Rose; it’s out of production, Winterfeldt said. But reading from an old catalog, he described it to us – its impressive coral pink and ivory many-petalled blooms; its vigorous blooming habit; its light damask, old-fashioned fragrance; and its long stems, making it perfect for vasefuls of cut roses. “It’s very beautiful,” Winterfeldt said.

Gardeners can still get a hold of Jackson & Perkins’ former first lady Laura Bush Rose (yes, she’s got one, too), or other hybrids named for Lady Bird Johnson and John F. Kennedy. Ronald and Nancy Reagan also have roses that bear their names.

Famous people get all sorts of things named for them – highways, bridges, hospitals, concert halls, university buildings, boulevards, airports. Barbara Bush, in fact, has an eponymous children’s hospital here in Maine, while the airport in Houston goes by her husband’s name. Such acclaim is grand. But a blossom tribute sounds even nicer to us.

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