Senior rose gardeners

grambuMarch 30, 2014

I wanted to just say a few words about rose gardening as a senior. When planning for a new rose garden most people advise you to start small, plant a few roses and wait a year or two to see how those progress and then slowly add a few more plants and wait for them to mature. I see very few comments about planting what you want and if next year you don't like them , toss or give away. I say this as a 72 year old woman who has always loved gardening; but now I have to take a different approach. Many of us have downsized and no longer have the large homes and gardens. Many like myself have moved to a condo and everything has to be in containers. So here is my advice, decide what colors and type of roses you want ex. pinks, peaches and yellows with a dash of red., floribundas with few thorns. Look up these favorites in books or online, purchase them and then plant them wherever you can. Even if they are not perfect for your climate or containers. Sometimes I have to treat them as annuals; but then have the fun of trying something different next year. We cannot always wait a few years for our roses grow into perfection. So have fun now, plant what you enjoy and don't think about growing roses for perfection. At our age I think we should plant what we can afford, money and space wise and just enjoy them without being overly concerned about fertilizer, sprays or soil conditions. This year I went all out and eliminated all flowers from my containers and purchased 16 bare root roses to replace in them. I spent more time, something seniors have, looking up rose types and colors before I ever placed an order. Gardening is good exercise as well as good for improving our brain power by looking up and learning new rose facts.
I just thought I would throw these thoughts out there to remind other seniors that neither us or our roses have to be perfect! Judith

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dublinbay z6 (KS)

Judith--good advice--which this "senior" agrees with, though I haven't done the down-sizing yet--but my garden is getting to be a bit much.

Yes, gardening is for our enjoyment--so enjoy! And spending the winter reading about various roses and picking out the 1 or 2 or maybe a handful that you want to buy for spring--that is part of the enjoyment of roses.

Do you take photos, Judith? We'd love to see some of your new beauties this summer.


    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 10:43AM
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I certainly agree that staying active in mind and body, and enjoying being outside, and still having the thrill of growing roses, is excellent advice. My large garden is on a busy street, and also there is a lot of pedestrian traffic. There is a very nice large retirement home about a block away. In the last month, at least 5 older ladies have stopped to look at the garden and chat when I was working out there, all of whom had recently moved into the retirement home. They all mentioned that they had moved from ------, where they had had a large garden, and missed it. The retirement home has a lovely garden itself, and it also has sunny patios by every unit (it is one story buildings climbing up a hill). I encouraged all of those ladies to get large pots and garden in them on their patios - some of them already had started to do that. They mostly asked me questions about flowers and bulbs in my garden with which they were not familiar. The ones who had moved here from colder climates were happy to hear that we have a 12 month growing season!


    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 10:44AM
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seil zone 6b MI

I think this is good advice for everyone not just seniors. Life is very short and VERY unpredictable. Enjoy it while you can. If that means tossing a rose you got but now don't like or isn't doing well, go for it! Guilt free! It took me a long time to learn that but the loss of several dear to me people recently has helped me move on. Don't waste time on roses you dislike caring for because you feel guilty about getting rid of them. Invest that time in the ones you love!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 11:14AM
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I love my garden, and am always hauling new stuff home to plant. I can't fathom moving into a 'retirement home', this is it for me... I'm going on 87, and do most of the work in my garden, my Dr. tells me to keep up whatever it is I do, so something is going right.. LOL, sally

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 4:34PM
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I'm a youngster at 69 and 25 years ago I planted over 200 rose bushes. The deer downsized my garden.
I started up again last year with 4 bushes and this year added 5 more (one from last year and older bush were shovel pruned) I have a total of 9 newer bushes. It took me a few months to dig the five new holes. I realize my limitations. I also need to build cages for everything I plant.
I have some physical limitations and caring for about 20 bushes is more than I want to deal with. A rose bush is a lot like a pet (except when they don't perform) and you make a commitment to take care of them when they are planted.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 5:04PM
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sammy zone 7 Tulsa

I think we must be wise and practical. A few years ago I tore down my long trellis and my other structures for climbers. No ladders! I replaced them with stand alone roses.

I took out most of the roses on my hillside, and re-designed it to have only 3 and a row of roses at the top. I have planted bushes and crape myrtles.

I begin early in the morning, and stop at a reasonable time. I have a large well built hat and use good prescription sunglasses.

If we don't take care of ourselves, nobody else will. I also try to walk as much as I can - usually with my dogs, and exercise as often as possible. I need water, and so do my roses.


    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 9:13AM
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dublinbay z6 (KS)

Sammy, I remember when you were planning that hillside. As lovely as a hillside of roses may be, I'm inclined to think that the greater variety of heights, shapes, leaves, colors, and blooming times mixed in with some selected roses is an even lovelier idea--and showcases those roses even more. Do give us some pictures of the new design this summer. I'd love to see the mixture!


    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 11:44AM
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mjc_molie(z6 CT)

What a wonderful thread! As a senior, I appreciated the tips... the logic... and the sense of humor. I guess when gardening no longer is "fun" then it's time to stop or to downsize.

And speaking of "fun"... that's why I came to the Rose Gallery and Forum today. (Here in CT we're still waiting for spring to really arrive.... a sudden snow storm this morning covered everything in white.) I was looking for some beautiful photos of flowers, but the heading for this thread just drew me in. Thanks!


    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 4:03PM
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ingrid_vc so. CA zone 9

This is great advice even for those who are not seniors. We never know what life has in store for us, and I've always refused to keep roses that weren't doing well or that I found I didn't care for. They just weren't making me happy and I wanted a beautiful garden, which has been a challenge in my difficult hot and dry climate and rather poor soil. The only way to find out what will thrive is to plant and see what happens. My garden has constantly changed because of this approach but over the years I've learned what will do well here and I think and hope that most of the roses I have now are here to stay.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 5:50PM
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What a great thread! So much being said that I can relate to.I'm 81 and live on 2 1/2 acres. With the help of my daughter we have18 flower beds ranging in size from small 5X10 beds up to one of 5000 sq, ft. To save costs I originally bought a lot through mail order. Now, as I realize I never know how long I will be around, I buy larger plants so I can enjoy them now. We have over 100 different perennials and a lot of trees and shrubs. Sure, I have a few aches, but I'm too busy to worry about that. This has been such a long winter and things are really slow to get started. The daffodils aren't even showing yet. That is really late for them. Some of the tulips are up and buds are showing on some shrubs. Have most of my spring clean-up done Anxious to see how many plants we lost to the cold.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 11:39AM
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Thank you all for your comments about my "senior attitude" I was pleased that so many agreed with me regardless if you are a senior or not. The world is a crazy place now so i would like to tell congress stop making life more difficult and go plant roses!!! My barefoot roses in the containers are loaded with buds and several, Mardi Gras and French Lace are ready to open and share their color for us. I check up on them every morning when I have coffee with my dogs on the porch. Maggie and jake are 2 Shitz Zoe rescue dogs who know when I say "Lets go and check out the roses"--they both run to the door and shake their fluffy little tails and can't wait until we go out. (Could it possibly be they know there is a cookie waiting out there for them and it not the roses themselves that attract them?)
Living in a senior condo development built around a 40 year old golf course is not so bad. I get to garden the things that I want, like roses and nasturtiums, and not have to worry about who will mow the grass and clip the
I will take pictures of my lovely ladies when they are all blooming. I just have to figure how to add the pictures.
In my next post I will include the names of these newly planted lovelies. Most are floribundas.
I wish you all either a good planting week or at least a peaceful time checking out rose books and planning your garden so you will be ready when spring finally arrives in your area. Judith

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 12:58AM
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