Why the daughter? "She was made to choose between death and drinking some of her father's blood. Being sensible, she drank," Edberg said.
That should beat National Trust, Catherine Deneuve, and yes, even Dolly Parton and other modern roses.
The money earned by the Edbergs' rose trade is poured right back into roses, or the antique books about wild and garden roses they consult to learn of otherwise unheard of old varieties.
Because reading about roses is common to old-rose hobbyists, Limberlost Roses now carries 10 titles. Among them are 10 copies of the rare 1936 first edition of "Old Garden Roses" by E.A. Bunyard, tagged at $131.50.
Besides being historians, rosarians are also rose "rustlers," and even very respectable people such as Martin engage in this activity.
"I really like to go up to Northern California, in Gold Rush country and visit old cemeteries looking for old rose bushes, bring back a cutting and identify it," Martin said.
Over the years Bob and Kathy Edberg have proven their interest in the preservation effort by finding old specimens any way possible, even importing some from England and putting them through the complicated but required two-year quarantine period.
And not just for selfish contemplation in their private garden. "A few years ago, I didn't have any Infante de France," a hybrid perpetual from 1860, Martin said. "Bob gave me a cutting to add to our collection."
When novice gardeners hear of the rarity of some of these roses and admire the silk puff-like blooms, they might be inclined to leave it at that, thinking the plants are made for botanists to grow.
Nothing is further from the truth, according to Wilkins. "You don't even have to prune them at all for the first three years," she said.
As for planting, do the same as for modern roses: Dig a hole at least two feet wide and two feet deep, and fill it with good soil as you set the plant in.
Edberg contends that roses are even fairly drought resistant. "If you dig the planting hole deeply, the water will go directly to the roots. Just mulch generously with redwood compost in the spring," he advised.
With diplomacy, you might get Limberlost's owners to sheepishly confess their favorites. "Malmaison, because it does well here, blooms repeatedly with fragrant, well-quartered flowers, and because of the story behind it," said Bob Edberg.
"Madame Ernst Calvat, an 1888 Bourbon, for sentimental reasons. It's the first flower Bob brought to me before we were married," said Kathy Edberg.
But some people ask too much, even of antique roses. "Two customers came once, demanding a rosebush of a certain height, blooming continuously, fragrant and whose petals would not blow off in the wind," Kathy Edberg recalled.
That was too much. Rosarians can go back to the hybridizing table for that one.
Nothing, though, seems to jar the Edbergs' affable mood when they are around roses. That's the reason behind the name of their nursery.
"A Girl of the Limberlost" is the title of a children's story published at the turn of the century about a child at play in a magical forest, away from a troubled world. "That's how I feel when I am with roses," Bob Edberg said.
\o7 Limberlost Roses, 16152 Saticoy St., Van Nuys, is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Call (818) 901-7798.\f7