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Update - Summerland Ornamental Gardens, Roses

A look at part of the Canadian Heritage Rose Garden (CHRG), on September 29th after the phase two roses had been in the ground for about 6 weeks. New drip irrigation system is operational and the roses are mulched with about 4 inches of wood chips. They are happy and growing very well.

Another view with the Heritage Building, the Former Superintendent's House in the background.

Good Morning Forum Folk,

It has been a while since last I posted, so I thought I would give an update on the progress on the Canadian Heritage Rose Garden at Summerland, B. C. As with many other projects and volunteer institutions, the Friends of the Gardens have had a frustrating and somewhat vexing spring and summer as we navigated the new reality of running a heritage garden during a pandemic.

The Gardens have been closed to the public since mid March and even the volunteers and paid gardeners were excluded until mid-July. This, I believe, is due to a very high aversion to risk on the part of the Research Station Management. The last time I posted, I believe had just finished trying to prune all of the roses in the Gardens in 4 days. We then received more than 100 bare root roses which had been ordered in December and arrived at the end of April. We ended up them potting up and growing them on at one of the local retail nursery's holding yard near by until we were given permission to plant them in their final homes. Thank you to Scott Austin of Garden Works in Penticton, you saved my bacon and our roses.

In addition, we had to do a total reassessment of our budget and move money to some of the high priority concerns. We cut the rose garden project budget by about two thirds for this year. Fortunately we have an excellent and proactive Board of Directors who had ensured an adequate emergency contingency fund and the Friends of the Gardens are on a good financial footing going into next year, despite income reductions and lack of donations due to the closure to the public. The budget reduction is not actually a great hardship yet, since planting the roses (already purchased), redesigning the irrigation and spreading mulch and chips did not cost us any new money.

I now have two of my Rose Team Volunteers working once a week with me on the rose gardens and too my great satisfaction they are all prospering, volunteers and roses. We will continue our weekly schedule until the end of October when we are done for the fall and winter season until we begin pruning mid March or early April. Four seasons of rejuvenation work, including new irrigation, mulching and fertilization, have resulted in virtually all of the ancient plants throughout the gardens getting a new lease on life, growth and bloom and they are putting on a glorious fall display. Happy, happy rose dance!!!

With respect to the CHRG, all of the roses have now been planted with the exception of the Paul Barden plants which are locked down in John's Garden in California until the border with the U. S. opens. That too is OK. I had hoped to have the garden completed this summer, but with the pandemic, we have had to slow down and leave some projects such as the planned rose arbour until next year. So, the new project projection is for full completion by summer 2021, Deo volente.

We have had several generous donations specifically to the CHRG since the start of the Covid crisis, so my budget is beginning to grow again. Thank you to the forum members who have seen fit to donate, it is so very much appreciated.

Having said that, I would like to put in a word for all the other volunteer run gardens that many of you know and care about. Some of them are certainly struggling and could use any help, any amount that you might care to donate.

One I would especially like to put in a word for is the San Jose Heritage Rose Garden. Another all volunteer garden of huge significance in North America. I had the great privilege of touring the San Jose Heritage Rose Garden with John_Ca in April 2019. John is currently working with the CHRJ to replant almost 30 early Austin varieties that they have requested from him and to provide advice and help with planting, fertilization, mulching and culture, likely with planting to take place next spring. It is my understanding that they get no funding from the City and that they too are struggling with the trials of the Pandemic. I am quite certain that the CJHRG could use our help, any help we can give.

I have seen the results of good culture and happy volunteers with respect to roses in the Summerland Ornamental Gardens. Four years ago, there was a collection of lost and struggling plants suffering from lack of care and neglect. Now, we have glorious roses throughout our 15 acre garden with plans for yet more exhibits including more OGR plantings. These public gardens serve as a repository for many of the rare varieties that disappear when small private gardens and nurseries, who grow and sell them, close. That is the reason I am determined to plant and curate Canadian Heritage varieties, Paul Barden varieties, OGR varieties and early English Rose varieties here in Summerland. The best thing we can do to keep the roses we treasure from being lost is to support the specialty rose nurseries and public gardens who grow and curate them.

That is about all I have to report and say right now. Hope you all are doing well and getting joy and comfort out of your gardens as I am at this difficult time.

Cheers, Rick

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