In memory of Maxine

By Ginna Parsons

TUPELO – On Thursday, there are likely to be lots of smiles at the 11th annual Rose Show at Renasant Bank in downtown Tupelo.
But there likely will be many tears, too.
In January, longtime rosarian Maxine Patterson of Pontotoc died after a battle with scleroderma, a skin disease. Northeast Mississippi Rose Society members decided to dedicate this year’s show to her memory.
“We’re really going to miss Maxine,” said Tommie Bourland, one of the organizers. “She was a wonderful rosarian. Maxine’s the one who got me started growing roses.”
This year’s show is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is no admission cost.
Bourland and other society members have been a bit worried the weather isn’t going to cooperate with their blooms this year. A cold, wet winter was followed by a dry spell and then recent back-to-back storms.
“We always said it never rained on Maxine’s roses,” Bourland said, laughing. “It rained on everybody else’s, but not hers. In my yard, I have a lot of buds, just not many blooms. I’m hoping to see some sunshine.”
Show organizers decided to move this year’s show up a week because last year, they thought most of the roses had played out before the show rolled around.
“We also wanted to attract some people who were coming here for the GumTree Festival this weekend,” Bourland said. “But we may have been too early.”
Dr. John Patterson, Maxine Patterson’s husband, isn’t too worried, though. He intends to enter as many roses as possible this year, which is what he believes his wife would have wanted.
“I’ll have some, but it might not be a good many,” he said. “Maxine liked Bride’s Dream and Tineke and Shreveport. So I’m hoping to have some of those, some of her favorites.”
Patterson noted that his wife of more than 57 years often won multiple awards at the annual rose show, much to her embarrassment.
“She was always grateful and pleased to get the awards, but a little embarrassed. She enjoyed showing them much more than winning the awards,” he said.
In a Daily Journal interview in 2004, Maxine Patterson likened rose gardening to the anticipation of Christmas.
“It’s really a fun hobby for me, but it is a lot of hard work,” she said. “It’s like Christmas morning, when everyone’s opening all the packages. I go out in my yard in the morning and can’t wait to see what’s blooming.”
Contact Ginna Parsons at (662) 678-1581 or ginna.parsons@djournal.com.