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Don’t Worry, Be Happy

by Jeff Wyckoff, ARS past president

From Zen and the Art of Rose Growing, ARS Annual 2010

'Lady of the Dawn' and Meditating Frog, photo by Rita Perwich

Perhaps the most important piece of advice anyone can give you is to enjoy your roses! Cut them for the house; give them away; take a stroll through the garden each day and marvel at their colors and inhale their fragrance. Dry them for potpourri or crafts, but do whatever it takes to derive pleasure from them. The roses are there for you, not visa versa. Remember that rose growing is a hobby, not a contest or a profession. The person with the biggest or most immaculate garden, the most rose show trophies, the most new varieties, or whatever, is not the winner. Do what you want with your roses and give them the attention and care of which you are capable, not what somebody else tells you you should be doing. Your level of involvement with roses may change over time, but the important thing is to keep your love of roses fresh and green.

One of the keys to maintaining this enjoyment is to keep things in perspective. We all have lives beyond roses, and sometimes these require that we neglect our gardens for a while. Roses are tough and can usually weather these periods with little to no damage. Haven’t we all seen roses in our neighbors’ yards that come back strong every year with no care at all? Too, every discolored leaf on your plants is not a sign of disease or nutrient deficiency. Cane dieback and blind shoots are not your fault, and a wimpy bush does not necessarily mean you did a poor job of planting it. Mother Nature is going to do things to our roses that we can’t always control, so we might as well accept them. An ability to step back and take things as they are, to not worry about problems you cannot control — a sort of garden zen-ness if you will — is a big factor in keeping the magic alive.

ABOVE: Stanwell Perpetual, a hybrid spinossima (Latin for very thorny). Photo by Jeff Wyckoff.


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