The International Herb Association

Pass Along Rose Old pass-along rose planted by Ida Branscum
outside the Herb Cabin, Ozark Folk Center.

A Visit to a Shady Lady

Terry Hollembaek

As you leave the OK Corral and saunter back towards the center of Tombstone, Arizona, you will not pass many side streets; the town just isn't that big. Down one of those short little streets you will find the Shady Lady. The time I visited her, there was a desert-browned ancient lady in bonnet and gingham blue dress collecting a dollar from each caller. I've heard the visitation fee has gone up quite a bit since then, but, trust me, the Shady Lady is worth whatever you're asked to dig out of your saddle bag. I'm only sorry that I was never able to visit her when she puts on her finery once a year in April. She is said to be even more gorgeous then and her perfume intoxicating. I'm sure that's true.

The Shady Lady is a rose. To be precise, she is a white 'Lady Banks' Rose (Rosa banksiae). They call her Shady Lady because she nearly covers an entire Spanish-style enclosed courtyard. She was brought to the wilds of the Wild West as a gift to a homesick Scottish bride.

She arrived in the Arizona desert in 1885 where the bride and her good friend planted and cared for her. She has prospered! The trellis work is about 8-feet high and the courtyard is much more comfortable for the shade she provides. The truly impressive, jaw-droppingly-so, feature is the trunk where she erupts from the hard-packed sandy earth. My memory is pretty good although I may be prone to exaggeration. I recollect a grape-like twisted trunk the size of a horse's neck.

I could only stare, and stare and stare. The Shady Lady in one very impressive rose.

I tell anyone who mentions going to Arizona, especially herbies, "rosephiles", master gardeners and such to make a visit to the Tombstone Rose if they're even close. One friend sent me a post card with a photo of the rose when she visited and only wrote "Holy Shit!" for the message. Another friend I'd sent that way, who works with roses all summer, called me while standing beneath her and said the same thing only he said it over and over.

I could miss boot hill, the touristy gee-gaws, the OK Corral and the rest of Tombstone but if I even get close I'm going to visit Lady Banks, the Tombstone Rose.


Terry Hollembaek Alaskan farm kid. Freshman Teacher illuminated the world. Completed high school in the Marine Corp. Vietnam. Eclectic college career. Varied work life, Major Plant Freak. Love self learning. Love Nancy. Love music. Love life. Love History. Love Kids. Love Herbs in my life. Love writing. Love poetry. Love dressing in Historic costumes and talking to people. Built own home. Feel very, very rich. Am growing (+or -) 200 varieties of herbs. Don't own a lawn mower. Copious mulching makes my life easier and makes my Wisconsin gardens glow.

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