More Bad News for Old Garden Roses

cath41(6a)August 15, 2014

This morning I got a phone call from a friend that she was bringing me a "cutting" from the garden of old roses we had planted about 1980. They had just torn out the old roses because the Master Gardeners did not want to take care of them. The members of our garden club are now elderly and had passed the care of the garden, which consisted of a small rose garden, an herb garden and some plantings around a few log cabins, to the Master Gardeners about a year ago. I had left the club a few years ago because of health and age issues myself. When I got to the garden, the compost pile held the cut branches but only one crown with little root. When I found the second compost pile in the middle of a weedy garden, I found a few shoots with almost no roots and a crown or two. Then I found that a few roses that were growing well and so I am a little confused as to what is being done. Anyway I took a few cuttings (without remorse) and salvaged what I could. Among the roses torn out were 'Boule de Neige', 'Comte de Chambord' , Jacques Cartier', 'Belle de Crecy' and 'Rosa Mundi'. I don't know what I have, whether it will root nor if it will survive. I have not successfully rooted rose cuttings. Last year cuttings grew a few roots and then died over the winter in the garage. All are now resting in a 3 buckets of water with a little alfalfa thrown in and tomorrow I will put them in soil.

The news about Pickering was especially poignant coming the same day as these roses were from Pickering.


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How awful. I'm sorry. If it's any consolation, if these were own root roses, they will be back! A few years before I began volunteering at The Huntington, there was a lady who volunteered and planted quite a few own root OGRs at her home. She had marital issues and became quite ill. Her husband, apparently NOT one for old garden roses, had the removed during her illness. She didn't recover, but her garden came back with a vengeance! Many OGRs have extremely persistent roots and can come back from roots left in the ground quite successfully. The Master Gardeners will likely have to dig them up repeatedly or Round Up them to get rid of them. I'm sorry! Kim

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 3:38AM
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vmr423(Zone 8b, SC)

The Master Gardeners didn't want to take care of them? Wasn't the garden given to them so that they would take care of the plants therin?

What did the MG's imagine they would need to do for the roses? Voodoo rituals? Or did they just want the space for their own 'pet' darling plants?

I hope Kim is right, and they keep coming back up, but folks who would chop down a lot of old roses they were supposed to be caring for probably won't have any qualms about using Round-Up. Sigh...

I hope you are able to successfully root your cuttings.


    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 1:05PM
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This is dreadful. I think it needs some publicity - where are you, and WHICH group of "Master Gardeners" hates old roses?


    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 1:11PM
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Unfortunately, that isn't unusual. There have been some reports of similar issues with the Master Gardeners who are supposed to maintain the Ralph Moore Memorial Garden in Visalia. That small garden only contains roses. Kim

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 2:03PM
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Kes Z 7a E Tn

Kim, I'm not sure I understand. Are you saying that they wanted to remove the roses from the Ralph Moore Memorial Garden? Do they not know who Ralph Moore was?

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 3:40PM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

Kim -- Is it that they want something else there? Not roses?

How ironic that would be. And how terribly sad. A final rejection of the life's work of a man who was, REALLY, their only notable citizen. Ever.


    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 3:50PM
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Glenburn(z8/z9 Mudgee, NSW Aust)

As I do not understand the term "Master Gardeners"( am Australian) could it be explained to prior to my next post
Thanks David.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 4:28PM
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The word that came back through Jim was they didn't want to maintain it because it had roses in it. Apparently, that's been worked out, but still, if you're going to take on the project knowing it is ONLY roses, don't make roses an issue for not wanting to continue. Kim

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 4:35PM
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This should help, David. Kim

Here is a link that might be useful: Master Gardener program

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 4:37PM
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Glenburn(z8/z9 Mudgee, NSW Aust)

As I am not in the situation so to speak, but I do feel sorry for this bit about the roses from Cath41 post. "Master Gardeners did not want to take care of them", the next bit is from what is said about them from Wiki, "Typically, Master Gardeners receive extensive training". I assume there are some members here that are Master Gardeners, I wish not to offend them, but the one's that went to these gardens should rethink their values and look at what they the organization stands for. I am an Australian trained horticulturalist and if I had been placed in this situation I would have worked in the scope of the job at hand, not to make the garden "what" we thought was better for it, if I am wrong tell me but I stand by my statement, the gardens should be maintained as is.
Regards David.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 5:54PM
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Seeing the names 'Compte de Chambord' Boule de Neige' et cet, had a similar effect upon me as if I were reading about some old and beloved freinds who had been tossed on a compost heap.
How sad, and frustrating a thing it is.


    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 6:05PM
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Unfortunately there is always more work than there are volunteers willing and able to do it. I do not want to rock the boat (atypically), because some of the people in our former garden club are close friends and I think they were involved in the negotiations. Moreover I am in no position to resume my former duties. The garden was a weedy mess and some of the roses taken out had black on their leaves - possibly cercaspora so something needed to be done but watering and weeding would have been more effective. They left seedling redbuds for example. I am just very sad and appreciate the sympathy you all have offered.


    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 6:12PM
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I wouldn't belong to any group that had "master" in its title.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 6:35PM
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Might it be possible to interest some horticulture students or HS students to care for the gardens for a public service project? Hort students might even be able to wrangle some academic credit, not to mention a nice entry on the resume.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 7:59PM
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true_blue(Mtl Can Zone 4b)

It is really sad, when "masters" think that they're gods!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 9:07PM
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Or, like the rest of us, get older and desire less maintenance and blood loss! Kim

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 9:23PM
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anntn6b(z6b TN)

One story from Knoxville TN that has a bit of positive in it.

Local folks endowed a rose garden at UT. The professor in charge has it looking excellent and each semester has two positions to fill to maintain the garden. He has tens of applicants for the positions and the students find that having done that is a resume booster.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 11:40PM
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vmr423(Zone 8b, SC)

I do wonder if the MG's aren't interested because they really don't know how to take care of the roses? Perhaps someone would be willing to get some training in the basics of rose care.

Weeding, feeding, watering, and pruning ought to be in the scope of a Master Gardener, but I suspect their training has more to do with lawn care, and how to advise people about pesticide/herbicide use.

Possibly, someone in the community who is not a MG would be interested in learning how to care for roses? It does seem to be such an arcane and scary thing for many people who didn't grow up in a gardening family.

It's a real shame that the only people who know what needs to be done are no longer able to do it themselves, or able to find someone who can do what's needed, and is willing to learn how to do it.


    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 3:42AM
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buford(7 NE GA)

What a shame. I know the Compte is still available commercially (i have one from David Austin). I'm not sure about the others.

Yes, unfortunately there is a growing lack of volunteers to work on gardens. People are working longer and don't have as much time to spend. But honestly, you are a Master Gardener. Roses are not that much work more than other plants, especially established OGRs. For SHAME!

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 11:18AM
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Belle de Crecy, at least, I'm sure will come back. It and a thousand of its suckers that were probably hiding in there.


    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 7:08AM
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anitasacramento(z9/14 CA)

I am a University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardener in Sacramento, and it's a great program, dedicated to promoting Integrated Pest Management, efficient irrigation (critical in our drought), growing edibles, and water efficient landscapes. Our MG coordinator doesn't emphasize roses because she feels that is what the American Rose Society does with their consulting rosarian business. However, I've capitalized on the fact that four of the UC Davis "Arboretum All-Star" landscape plants are roses - three of which are OLD roses - Iceberg, Perle d'Or, Mutabilis and Pink Gruss an Aachen, and worked to integrate roses with our program. We've planted PdO, Mutabilis and White Pearl in Red Dragon's Mouth in our MG demonstration garden, and I've been invited to speak a couple of times to them about the cemetery garden and a talk that I give, "Old Roses for Modern Landscapes." Without my influence, and a couple of other MGs who are also involved with the cemetery, I'm not sure there would be any awareness of or interest in old roses, but we've been able to make a difference.

The amount of awareness and acceptance of roses by the MG programs is really variable. The Calaveras County MG Demo garden has a whole section of found old roses (many of which we also have in the Sacramento cemetery), thanks to a couple of devoted MGs and an interested coordinator who has even come along on rose rustles. In Denver, however, the wonderful roses in Fairmount Cemetery were torn out by the MGs and replaced with a modern water-efficient landscape. Phooey. Grasses and perennials. Not really much more efficient, and much less appropriate to a historic cemetery.

Interestingly enough, quite a few commercial landscapes are planted with roses in Northern California. Not Knockout, but other shrub/ground cover roses, and lots of Iceberg. Every In and Out Burger is required to be landscaped with Iceberg per the corporate headquarters! There are miles of banksiae along the freeways. In home gardens, though, they have the bad rap of requiring too much water and too much care. That's why having them on the UCD list is so important.

It's incumbent on us to educate and advocate. I do it every single day because I am so passionate about the beauties of the old roses and our cemetery garden!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 7:39PM
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