If there is an open space on her lawn, Frances White, from Princeton, NJ, can find a flower or a rose that needs a home.

Frances is a composer of instrumental and electronic music @rosewhitemusic.com, and she has a LIFELONG passion for gardening.

She is a Botanical Composer who brings together a symphony of flowers, roses, shrubs, and trees to play together in harmony with animals and insects, revealing a botanical masterpiece she has created.

Frances began her interest in gardening as a young child, around the age of four or five. She followed her father around the yard, watching him weed and water the flower beds. She remembers loving all the pretty flowers he grew, including the first rose she’d ever seen: his pink Queen Elizabeth rose. She was also fascinated with the tomatoes he grew inside on the garage window, the mysterious fertilizers and garden tools he had, and his method of composting in the backyard.

As a child, she attempted her first garden by trying to grow seeds in the grass. It appears though that her attempt didn’t quite work. She later learned if you don’t remove the grass first, you can’t grow flowers.  Today, continuing to follow in her father’s footsteps, she has created an amazing garden of her own.

Frances describes the overall feel of the garden as “kind of wild and romantic.” She and her husband Jamey live in a white cottage house surrounded by a half-acre garden with a picket fence out front. Roses climb on top of the house with flowers and roses surrounding the house from all sides. It’s like the house is being hugged by fragrant clusters of color.

Her garden is not created by design; it is a labor of love whose purpose is to bloom as long as possible throughout the year. Pretty flowers and roses adorn her house and lawn in various shades of color like deep raspberry-purple, pale pink, Fuchsia, fiery scarlet-red, apricot-orange, lemon, lavender-blue, and creamy white. The pops of color decorate her house like lights at Christmas time.

The gardening season begins with spring-flowering bulbs, azaleas, and flowering trees that finish blooming as the rose season begins. Over 300 types of roses take center stage and bloom from mid-spring to early fall, with the height of the season being in early June. As the rose season ends, flowers like lilies and daylilies, asters, and dahlias ease her into the winter when it’s time to investigate new pretty flowers and roses for the next year.

There are other flowers interwoven among the roses like wildflowers and those that are companions to her roses like clematis. These flowering vines are a beautiful complement in climbing roses. Imagine the beauty of blue and purple flowers intermingling with the pinks and lavenders, reds, apricots, and whites of the roses.

Her garden has beds located in sections around her house where each flower bed has at least one rose.

The “cottage” beds, in front of the house, have various flowers, roses, and shrubs separated by paths. Here you will meet Clematis Betty Corning and roses, John Cabot, Wife of Bath, The Ingenious Mr. Fairchild, Perennial Blue, and Gertrude Jekyll, to name a few.

The largest area of the lawn, the north side, includes a shady woodland bed, a “wild” area of various flowers, the vegetable bed, and others. Here you will meet other beautiful garden members like the Clematis Duchess of Albany, and some of her rose friends, Julia Child, Dr. Huey, Paul Transon, Sunrise Sunset, and Sweet Juliet.

On the left side of the house sits a flowering cherry tree that is surrounded by beautiful flowers like Dark Lady, Charles de Mills, and Madame Plantier. On the right side of the house, there is a pergola covered by Peggy Martin, a beautiful pink climbing rose, and her companion, the lavender-blue clematis, Betty Corning. The pergola is encircled by flowers like deep-blue delphiniums and roses such as Tequila, Rhapsody in Blue, and Celestial Night.

A fence, separating her house and neighbor’s, is decorated by a red Dublin Bay climbing rose, ramblers Blue Magenta and Super Excelsa, a pink Cape Diamond shrub, along with other flowers and plants standing proud.

On the first weekend of June, Frances and her husband Jamey host an annual Rose Day party. Rose Day has been held for the past 15-16 years except for this year, due to COVID-19 and one other year.

Friends and family come to experience the beauty of her garden as they enjoy a guided tour conducted by Frances. She leads her guests through the paths and beds around the house, directing attention to each flower or rose by name, accompanied by an accent if fitting.

Guests experience the beauty and bursts of colors and fragrances of each rose and flower while bees buzz around in delight, enjoying the wonderland flying from one flower to the next. Her guests’ sense of discovery increases as each garden bed surprise them with floral delights along the paths and from one side of the house to the other. Guests routinely go back to re-experience and explore the garden on their own.

When Rose Day is over, Frances hopes her guests experience her garden as if “it’s enchanted like a garden in a fairy tale.”

She wants this experience to be magical such that it “moves one and opens their hearts just as a piece of music or a work of art might. I want the garden to be a memory that they can pull out on cold, bleak winter days – a memory of fragrance and color and beauty. But also, a memory of friendship, good food and laughter, and silly dogs chasing each other around the yard.”

She believes if her father could see her garden today, he would tease her a bit but love it all the same.

But why so many roses? When asked, Frances said, you can never have enough roses. Never.

The beauty, fragrance, and quiet elegance of roses are just a few reasons why Frances loves them. Although she selects roses primarily for their beauty, she has a particular fondness for climbers. She has many modern roses that she loves but has a soft spot for the old roses, those hybridized before 1900. Roses evoke special meaning and emotion for many, yet there is a certain romance to them, especially their names.  Examples include Madame Isaac Péreire, Zéphirine Drouhin, and numerous others.

Her garden serves as both her refuge and her inspiration. As she works in her garden, ideas for her music and solutions to musical problems materialize. It appears that her garden inspires her music, and her music inspires her garden. There are also some similarities between them in that music is about timing, and so is a garden. They both provoke different feelings and emotions like joy and wonder through their composition and arrangement.

What would her garden sound like if it had a sound? Interestingly, Frances wrote a piece called The old rose reader. “It’s for violin, recorded sound, and video. It has text written by my husband Jamey that consists largely of the names of old roses, along with fairy-tale-like stories about roses. The violin writing is very romantic, and the recorded sound adds a sort of magical dimension to it. The violin evokes not only a feeling of the human voice, but also sometimes that of a voice of nature. I think if my garden had a sound, it would be the sound of this piece of music!”

Experiencing inspiration or seeing the beauty in the world today can be hard, especially right now. Luckily for us, this Botanical Composer will use her imagination to create something extra-ordinary like her garden because, according to Frances, “a garden is never finished.”

Do you have a story to share?  Contact us at LIFELONG today!

Please be sure to check out Frances’ Rose Garden 2020 video tour and enjoy the piece composed by Frances, The old rose reader.