Tue 1 Jul 2008
This is a story about Point Reyes Station’s ubiquitous pink roses and how I once happened to rescue a few wild ones.
One of the many bicyclists passing through town pedals past climbing roses in front of West Marin School.
When I came to town in 1975, Toby’s Feed Barn was located in the old Livery Stable building at Third and B Streets in Point Reyes Station. The Tomales Bay Foods building next door was a haybarn. In those days, Toby’s Feed Barn was just that — an outlet for hay transported by Toby’s Trucking. Some of it was grown on family land in Nevada.
In 1976, Toby’s Feed Barn moved into the old Diamond National lumber building on the main street where it now sells everything from bales of hay to gourmet foods to fine art. Toby’s Trucking, which already had facilities in Petaluma, moved the last of its operation out of Point Reyes Station. The livery stable building, where trucks had been serviced and hay stored, was sold a couple of years later along with the haybarn.
Toby’s Feed Barn and Trucking had begun in 1942, so there was an accumulation of old truck parts and other detritus of a trucking-and-hay business to be cleared away before the buildings changed hands. Back then, John’s Truck Stop was located on Fourth Street where the Pine Cone Diner is today, and watching the cleanup from across the way was owner John Ball.
Wild roses transplanted 30 years ago to my cabin. Unlike many roses, these are pretty much ignored by deer.
The Truck Stop owner had once been a driver for now-deceased Toby Giacomini, and he asked if he could have some of the wild roses growing where the cleanup was underway. “Help yourself!” Toby immediately responded. John took a few and encouraged the late Lt. Art Disterheft of Olema, then commander of the Sheriff’s Substation, to dig up a few more for himself.
Art, as it happened, had just come down with the flu and was in no shape to dig up roses, so he passed the offer along to me. There were three degrees of separation between Toby’s “Help yourself!” and me, but I accepted nonetheless. After all, I reasoned, the area would soon be cleared, which it was.
Digging up the roses was an amazing experience. It took a pick, as well as a shovel, to free them, for they were not growing in topsoil, as you and I think of it.
These roses were rooted mostly in clay, baling wire, and old engine oil. While moving them, I had to worry as much about getting greasy as getting pricked.
The roses’ hardiness was, however, encouraging. The wind across my pasture on the hill sometimes blows so relentlessly that it had withered all the flowers I’d tried to grow around the cabin. I figured these roses could withstand anything, and they have. In fact, without their annual pruning, my hot tub would soon be overgrown by a prickly, pink jungle.
The rose now growing in front of my deck, Rosa Californica, is one of less than a dozen native to this state.
In downtown Point Reyes Station, an example of a five-petaled antique rose can be seen at the corner of Highway 1 and Mesa Road (above) in front of Jane Quattlander’s home.
Several varieties of domestic pink roses have gone feral around town, for birds can spread rose seeds. These unidentified roses are growing at Bivalve overlooking the foot of Tomales Bay. Bivalve, now little more than a dirt turnout off Highway 1, was once a whistlestop on the narrow-gauge-rail line between Point Reyes Station and Cazadero.
Climbing roses along Highway 1 frame a view of Black Mountain.
Several West Marin towns are associated with particular flowers. An abundance of nasturtiums helps give Stinson Beach its colorful character. Primroses have become symbols of Inverness, thanks largely to the Inverness Garden Club’s annual Primrose Tea. With pink roses dotting so many Point Reyes Station vistas, we’re obviously the town with the rosiest outlooks.
An immense thicket of climbing roses along Highway 1 marks the southern edge of Point Reyes Station. This wall of thorns and pink blossoms borders the entrance to the Genazzi Ranch.