By David Candler, MCR, Host. Judge, Past President
My garden is in the SE corner of the state near Mystic Seaport, the US Coast Guard Academy, the submarine base at Groton (which brought me to the region) and within 10 miles of two very large casinos which bring significant traffic to the previously rural road. We have several hundred roses, mostly minis or minifloras on about 2 acres of property surrounding a center chimney colonial house built when George Washington was eight years old.
The climate’s hardiness zone is 6b, although the garden’s microclimate is affected by proximity to Long Island Sound the Thames River and a nearby cove. Soil conditions are basically granite boulders with a couple of inches of sandy loam covering so that unsuspecting rosarians think that holes for plants can be dug. Locations of plants is therefore a trial-and-error process rather than a preconceived Garden Plan. The garden is about 30 years old from the initial three plants, and expanded little by little. Eventually soil depth determined that planting roses larger than miniatures begged for raised beds. So that was done for some large roses, and I generally shifted to minis and MF for ease of planting. An additional landscape-planning constraint was a multi-hobby family with horses preceding roses by many years. This limits the space available for planting significantly. It also limits the height of the many roses along fence lines to that allowed by horse-pruning.
As the garden grew incrementally, my choice of type, color and form of roses changed. “What is your favorite” is still not settled day-to-day. One way I satisfy that breadth of the hobby is to learn more about more roses- and this led to becoming a Horticultural Judge. You learn, and you reinforce by seeing roses at rose shows in other locales. And I mentioned the multiple-hobbies. This included photography. But as time progressed, the rose and photography hobbies partially merged. And for a number of years now, I have been the primary photographer of all the New England rose shows. The main output for these photos is for the local society’s web sites to document the great roses and exhibits shown there to a much more extended audience that just the attendees.
The bad news is that we have most of our roses peaking in June and a limited growing season. The good news is that when it is brisk outside, we can take a break from digging boulders and read about America’s flower, look at catalogs, and work with rose photos by the fireside.