The first thing for a budding rose gardener to remember is that learning to grow roses takes time and the best thing you can do for a brand new rose is get to know its personality. Yes, roses have personalities. Who knew?!
Observe for yourself, what does your rose like to eat? When does it need to drink? Does it like direct sunlight? So on and so forth. Roses, like most living things, will communicate their needs to their gardener, if only the gardener is patient and curious enough to get to know it.
Even after decades of professional gardening experience, this is still a daily habit of Carol’s at the Rosarium. Checking on the roses in the garden each day and getting to know little things about each of them is what has allowed her to be one of the premier rose gardeners in the Inland Northwest. Which brings us to the second thing a new rose gardener should remember and that’s to start small. Most of us aren’t tending to a 2.5-acre rose garden. But many of us have a small bed or patch of land in our yards. Start there. Pick something you love and will nurture, and start learning more about it (or “him or her” as Carol would say).
It’s not uncommon for a novice gardener to have had a negative experience with roses and assume that they’ll never be able to maintain them. There are plenty of myths swirling that roses are high maintenance, frustrating, or just altogether hard to keep alive. So the next question to ask is “what kind of rose am I planting and will it thrive where I want to plant it?”
The Rosarium specializes in own-root roses, which means roses that have been grown from their own roots. These roses have been propagated from a cutting of another rose, and are grown into a tiny bud of its own, in its own little pot inside of a greenhouse before being planted outside, without any grafting or bud union with other blossoms. These own-root roses are particularly conducive to an Inland Northwest climate, which is why the Rosarium propagates them. While picking up a simple plant from the generic box store may seem convenient, it often comes without a user guide, making the growing and nurturing process more difficult. When you come to the Rosarium, you can be assured that your rose is being picked especially for you, your preferences, and your needs so that it thrives when you take it home.
You may hear about “grafted” roses or “bare root” roses, which tend to not thrive in our local Spokane weather patterns, and often create the conundrum around roses described above. Thankfully the Rosarium has made it easy for you to get a rose plant that is a good match for you and your garden, so long as you’re willing to pay us a visit and then promise to hang with it a bit. Roses in their first year are just small babies and we can’t expect them to look like a 5-year-old rose!
Roses are delightfully diverse and at the Rosarium, we are huge advocates that we can find a rose that you will love. Imagine a hybrid-tea, which are wonderful for bouquets; Julia Child is a glorious yellow rose for a cluster of color; for those who love a robust red rose, Hope for Humanity is enamoring, to name just a few.
“If you can tell us your spot and your needs, we can almost always match a rose to fit into what your parameters are,” Carol said. “It’s kind of part of the beauty of roses; it’s what we love them for. They are so versatile.”
The last lesson of roses is that if you’ve had a bad experience or if a plant hasn’t flourished in the past, you can always try again. Roses want to live; they want to bloom and when we find the right fit, there really isn’t another plant that will give the extended bloom and the aesthetic wonder that a beautiful rose will.