The 2011 Master Gardener Expo will be on Saturday, March 26 at the Waxahachie Civic Center.

The Peggy Martin rose has been chosen as the focus plant for the Expo.

The “Peggy Martin Rose” was one of  two plants surviving 20 feet of salt water over the garden of Mrs. Perry Martin, Plaquemines Paris, Louisiana, after the destruction of Hurricane Katrina in late August, 2005.

Since then, it has been introduced into commerce in the United States and has become a symbol among gardeners and rose lovers of a tenacious plant associated with a spirit of renewal and regrowth in the aftermath of a devastating blow of Nature against those living and gardening in the Gulf Coast area.

Peggy Martin has been a mainstay in the New Orleans Old Garden Rose Society for many years. She and her husband, MJ, lived in Plaquemines Parish a few miles across the Mississippi River from the city of New Orleans.

Peggy’s garden included a wonderful collection of old roses assembled with love and care over the years. According to Peggy “I was given cuttings of the thornless climber in 1989 by Ellen Dupriest who had gotten her rose cuttings from her mother-in-law, Faye Dupriest.

Faye had gotten her cuttings from a relative’s garden in New Orleans.”

This rose is lushly beautiful with semi-thornless bright green foliage and is disease free. Clusters of roses congregate all along the canes. Once established this rose will bloom from September through November and possibly into December.

During Hurricane Katrina Peggy lost her parents, her home, and the commercial fishing boat that her husband used to supplement their income. The house and garden were under about 20’ of salt water for two weeks following the hurricane. When she was finally able to return to visit their property she was heartened to see the lush growth of her thornless climber, a testament to its toughness and status as a true survivor. This rose and one crinum were all that remained of the once beautiful garden.

Dr. Bill Welch, Professor and Texas AgriLife Extension Service Landscape Horticulturist at Texas A&M University was convinced that this rose deserved to be widely available and enjoyed by gardeners in other locations.

Its disease resistant, thornless stems and colorful displays of bright pink flowers along with a graceful vining form make it a logical choice for creating beautiful garden pictures.

His specimen is literally covered with clusters of dark pink flowers each spring from mid-March through May. It starts blooming again in late summer and repeats until a hard frost slows it down for the winter.