Mrs. Hart was my next-door neighbor on Long Island. She was what we called “an original owner,” having moved into her brand-new house in a brand-new subdivision in the post-war exuberance of the 1940s. In the ensuing decades, she’d raised a son, outlived a husband, and cultivated magnificent rose bushes. Big, round powder puffs of flowers dotted her front yard in June. She spent most of her time pruning roses, wearing a housedress and a floppy hat to prevent sunstroke.
One time I asked how she kept her roses from going leggy and wild. Mrs. Hart looked up, stopped clipping briefly, and said, “It’s easier to show you than to tell you.”