Thursday, January 27, 2011

Why grow roses?

Hi! Welcome to Thorny Issues, the blog of Der Rosenmeister’s Nursery.

I am Lee Ginenthal, owner of Der Rosenmeister, a small, family run specialty nursery in Ithaca, NY offering the best in cold hardy, disease resistant roses and all the information needed to grow them.

Renate Schmitt, my wife, and me, the first year we were in our new location on 190 Seven Mile Drive, Ithaca, NY.

There is not much to do out in the rose garden at this time of year. There are cuttings to tend to under the lights. There is the latest issue of Rosa Mundi, the journal of the Heritage Rose Foundation, to read along with piles of rose books, old and new. Winter provides the luxury of time to reflect on the past year in the rose garden, as well as, to dream about and plan for the coming year. Roses are a large part of my life.

Why do I grow roses?

My initial is response is that roses connect me with special people in my life. My grandmother, Sadie Wheat, loved growing roses. When she died, my mom, Audrey, rooted a cutting of one of Grandma’s favorite roses, a once-blooming rambler, Dr. W. Van Fleet. This was the first rose I grew. It was while trying to identify it that I got hooked on old roses. I cannot see or smell that rose without thinking of my grandmother or my mom.

What is the first thing you do when you see a rose? Smell it, right? Well, scent is another reason I grow roses. The scent of a rose is as complex as the flavor of a good wine. Each variety has its own distinctive blend of scents. More about that in a future blog. Whether I am just walking through my roses or working in the rose beds, I am compelled to sniff and savor the scents they offer. That simple act impacts my thoughts and feelings.

Another reason to grow roses is the color of the blossoms. Roses come in a wide range of colors except for blue. Some varieties are blends of colors, while others are picoteed, striped or mottled or freckled. What is my favorite color rose? Well, that depends on what is in bloom at the moment.

Another reason I grow roses has to do with their history and stories. On my hillside here in the Fingerlakes of NY, I have roses grown by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, roses grown in Europe in the Middle Ages in cloistered gardens, roses grown by the Empress Josephine in her garden at Malmaison, roses from many countries throughout the northern hemisphere. I have over 300 varieties at last count. Some roses are named after people –famous and infamous- historic as well as literary. Like people, every rose has a story.

Why do I grow roses? They bring me joy. I love to share my roses and this passion with others.

Why do you grow roses? Please feel free to tell your story.


  1. I like the variety and the scent. I like the mini roses just as much as I like the climbers. They are very long last for beautiful floral arrangements. Also I had a surprise happen to me the last few years. I bought a rose bush at Walmart and all I got was a single rose annually. Once I cut a big old tree, sun was able to shine on it and the last two years it has blossom more that all the years I have had it. I learn that they love sunshine and thrive better in the sun. So I find it challenging the grow roses year after year. They are one type of flowers that never fail you!

  2. Because they are beautiful. Because they smell good. Because they remind of people and places dear to my heart. Because they are a piece of heaven. Because they are!

  3. der rosenmeistah, welcome to blogland

  4. Hi, Lee. This is a great start to your blog. I grow roses because I can. I can grow roses in my cold climate because I buy them from you.

  5. I grow roses 'cause you sent me home with a bunch for my mother-in-law... and then I liked them too much to pass along. So now I need to figure out where they are going to live and prosper.