You Meet The Nicest People At A Rose Show

Where are the rose gardens? Backyards.


Back Yard Rose Garden with Elevated Deck and an inviting Bistro
Back Yard Rose Garden with Elevated Deck and an inviting Bistro

Hidden secret gardens are behind beautiful urns and cascading fountains or perhaps ivy brick walls. You can catch a glimpse of a climbing rose or a waft of their fragrance on the wind as you walk along the sidewalk out for an evening stroll. Some of the nation’s most beautiful treasured gardens are tucked away behind gates in back yards. The first rose garden I had, I inherited from my mother in Northern Illinois, one mile from Lake Michigan along the North Shore off Beach Road on a dead end street. I sought out members of the Libertyville Men’s Garden Club and the Northeastern Illinois Rose Society to teach me how to take care of a rose garden. Like most kids, I had not paid attention when my mother did her best to engage me in the art of gardening. I didn’t know it at the time, but my rose mentors would become the crème de la crème of the rose world. You wouldn’t know it.

Richard Anthony, Owner For Love of Roses

Richard Anthony, of For The Love of Roses Preparing for the Show

They are the most down-to-earth, caring, giving and friendly people you could ever hope to meet. This group at the time comprised of scientists, doctors, professors and consulting rosarians were committed to educating anyone interested in rose gardening. What I remember most is their spirit of total commitment to education, camaraderie, friendship and fellowship. The first time I entered a rose show, it was only because of the encouragement of this group. I wanted to share how beautiful the rose garden was that most people could not see hidden in the back yard. The only way to do this was to take roses from the backyard rose garden and enter a rose show. The garden was also featured on a rose garden tour and I’ll never forget when one of the PhD’s said, “Susan, you have achieved perfect rose culture.” I still think that’s the best thing anyone’s ever said to me. 🙂

Andy Plasz at The Illinois Indiana District Rose Show
Andy Plasz at The Illinois Indiana District Rose Show

It Takes A Village

I was in my twenties when I approached the Libertyville Men’s Garden Club and the Northeastern Rose Society to learn about roses. Remember the phrase “It Takes A Village.?” It does “take a village” to teach and create the next generation of gardeners. I believe we are obligated to educate, encourage and pass on what we know to the next generation of gardeners. I can sincerely tell you this is the feeling that the rose society nurtured within their group with newcomers in sharing their knowledge. It can be encapsulated by one word: “encouragement”. This past weekend, the American Rose Society Chapter of the Illinois Indiana District hosted the District Rose Show and Convention in Decatur, Illinois. There were beautiful roses, of course, and the show was open to the public on a beautiful day. The rose shows in cities across the country are also free to the public. The best part of the rose show is the people. People that we have known since we were in our twenties actually attended and entered the show. It was wonderful to see Dr. Andy Plasz who was our friend, rose mentor and neighbor from all those years ago in the Northeastern Rose Society. His arrangement won the highly coveted Betty Pavey Memorial National Trophy.

Dan Keil, Stephen F. Decatur Rose Society President preparing for the show
Dan Keil, Stephen F. Decatur Rose Society President preparing for the show

You meet the nicest people at a rose show


Research shows that association memberships are dropping at an alarming rate across every sector in the US. I guarantee when we as members of individual chapters in garden clubs and the American Rose Society make our number one interest people and their needs to connect, be encouraged and to learn, I know our membership will increase.

Moonstone, Queen of Show, by Dr. Andy Plasz
Moonstone, Queen of Show, by Dr. Andy Plasz

Dr. Andy Plasz entry ‘Moonstone’ won Queen of Show


Renee LaFolette and Mary Ewaldz

Find Your Tribe

I was flying home from Houston on a Southwest Airlines flight with the President of The Texas Nursery And Landscape Association Region IV talking roses and she invited me to speak to the Master Gardeners in Dallas, Texas about roses. She explained through TNLA, she had found her tribe. I would like to invite you to seriously consider locating your nearest rose society and/or garden club visiting them more than once and find your tribe. Your tribe is a group of people who are really, truly passionate and share the same interests as you do. With them you can continue to learn and share your knowledge with them about what you love everyday.

Teresa Byington, of found through our love of roses and now a part of my tribe is working with me to get entries ready before judging begins.

Teresa Byington Susan FoxLinda Kimmel,  ARS Illinois-Indiana District Director

Linda Kimmel, ARS Illinois Indiana District Director

Linda Kimmel’s Beautiful Arrangement

Arrangement by District Director, Linda Kimmel

Mark and Kathy Nolan preparing for the Show

Rose Show Champions Mark and Kathy Nolan

Diane Sommers and Dr. Tony Liberta, Rose Show Judges

Diane Sommers and Dr. Tony Liberta, Rose Show Judges

Greg Byington and R. Fox enjoying a free moment and a little commaraderie.

Mr. Fox and Mr. Byington
Mr. Fox and Mr. Byington enjoying some free time

Mark and Kathy Nolan from the Indianapolis District win this Challenge Class with 3 Mavrik and 3 Desparado  Simply Spectacular! Congratulations All!

Challenge Class Winners Mark and Kathy Nolan
Challenge Class Winners Mark and Kathy Nolan

Clyde Beaty talking about Ted Mills amazing organic products Mills Magic

Clyde Beatty of Mills Magic
Clyde Beatty talking about Mills Magic a fertilizer and organic soil amendment for roses he makes and distributes for Ted Mills

Illinois Indiana District Show Photo Credits Teresa Byington. Thank-you Teresa Byington for taking these great pictures during the show and allowing me to use them!  🙂


OUI Built A Prefabricated Greenhouse for $142.00

Greenhouse Construction Under Way in Garage
Greenhouse Construction Under Way in Garage
Greenhouse Wall Size Prospective
Greenhouse Wall Size Prospective
Almost a Winter Home
Almost a Winter Home
Greenhouse Front Framed Out
Greenhouse Front Framed Out
Greenhouse Door and Foam Board Applied
Greenhouse Door and Foam Board Applied

It was a simple plan. It always seems to start that way doesn’t it? My plan was this, since I would have at least ½ acre of gardens and over 150 rose bushes to take care of I would have silk plants in the house, live plants outside. No house plants. Then people for most occasions started getting me house plants, big ones, in pots because they say I have a green thumb whatever that means.  And they had to go outside. OUI also added outside, first one flagstone patio next to the back door where shade did not allow grass to grow then another stone patio in the back yard along the north fence because there were always cool breezes “out there” and then a stone path in the front yard under the oak trees. OUI planted two oak trees as seedlings in the front yard and now they are mighty oaks providing the most beautiful shade you can imagine. Shade is a valuable commodity in the hot, very hot, north Texas summers.  I will be able to write a book on the conversion of the front yard from a sun to a shade landscape.  These oak trees almost inspired me around the time of the Kentucky Derby to drink a mint julep under the shade of my very own 20 year old oak trees. I discovered the true recipe in the Wall Street Journal.  A mint julep is straight pure Kentucky bourbon, has to have “shaved ice” and a sprig of mint, a little powdered sugar and here’s the part I like the most, only shaken in a pure stainless steel cup. Don’t hold me to that recipe it’s from memory. Just remember that its mostly pure bourbon and I don’t like bourbon. Sorry bourbon lovers, no offense. I like the thought of sipping a mint julep in the shade under the old oak tree in a beautiful large brimmed hat (hear designer like they wear to the Kentucky Derby) in a stainless steel cup bought a Tiffany’s.  I digress, but since we are on the stone path I will remind you of a quote I am famous for. My husband was sitting on my daughter and son-in-law’s patio in Hesperia, California. My grandson Jake was taking him a marguerita, and I said Jake please give your grandfather a glass of water and tell him “drink your water, you can’t quench your thirst with tequila.” Now instead of all the other great quotes he could say remember when Gaga said whatever, he likes to say, “you better drink your water, you can’t quench your thirst with tequila.” To top it off both Jake and my granddaughter Ashlyn say it frequently. Maybe it will come in handy one day.

Enough meandering down the garden path of memories. Here’s the materials list for the greenhouse , prefabricated in the garage and assembled on the stone patio along north fence in the back yard. This greenhouse is 8 X 8 X 7 ½” and it meets all neighborhood association rules and city codes standards.

The materials list is exactly as it was written from the Home Depot receipt with exact costs dated 10/13/2010. I’m getting this out there to you today on a  Friday so you can go buy your materials today or early Saturday and build this over the week-end. You can get it done before NFL football on Sunday.

Materials List for  8 X 8 X 7 ½” Greenhouse

2X3-8’ 31 studs @ $1.87 ea       $57.97

1X2X8     3 studs @ $1.12 ea     $ 3.36

2X6X8’    HT                            $3.68

Box of 3” dry wall screws          $8.69

Door hinge & latch                   $ 2.58

Fill Strip 4 @ .99                      $ 3.96

Foam board/1 side alum foil



This structure can be built in the garage and moved to location to be erected. Construct 3 – 8’ X 8” walls on 2” centers. The 4th wall has a door framed out of 1 X 2’s and hinged with a latch so you can secure it shut. The roof is constructed with rafters of 2 X 3’s and visqueen stretched over the top. Screw a lawn sprinkler to the center rafter for watering and attach a garden hose along the rafter for watering. Last year we had record cold and although most plants made it this year we insolated the structure. We came down 30” from the top with visqueen and wrapped entire structure with 4 X 8 sheets of foam board with an aluminum foil face facing inside 6 feet high.  The beauty of the  design is that this structure can be disassembled and stored and reassembled each fall and your plants are safe again for the winter, saving 100’s of dollars in plants each year. Now you can get busy protecting all those plants.

Total cost $141.81

Last year’s Greenhouse cost $98.00. The upgrade this year cost an additional $43.81 and I will need to check to see how much additional labor if any OUI spent in constructing it.  My contribution consisted of spraying myself with mosquito spray although I did sustain multiple painful bites prior to spraying myself so there is a misery factor to be considered and I did hand my builder wood screws like I hand Denise foil when she colors my hair. I also had to park in the driveway while the walls were being prefabricated in the garage.  I made suggestions about whether the foam board came in suitable earth tones for the back yard or could it be painted. OUI opted not to paint it in case the paint slithered off in a gooey mess, but my builder was willing to try and paint it in an earthy selection. I like that in a builder, don’t you? I think I’ll use him on my next project.  I also poured a glass of chardonnay for the construction crew. That’s a lot, don’t you think? One must sacrifice. I also requested that the construction crew not sit on the white love seat in his work shirt.

Next topic children’s garden with perennials and a if we can locate one a Christmas Camilla that will bloom at Christmas.

Jake & Ashlyn
Like to Quote Gaga, "Drink Your Water, You Can't Quench Your Thirst With Tequila"

Converting Clay Soils, How Mark Chamblee Roses Does It

Mark Chamblee


Garden Mulch & Shadows
Garden Mulch & Shadows

A lively understandable spirit once entertained you. It will come again. Be still. Wait.
Theodore Roethke

In preparation for our Oui Ones Garden let’s talk about dirt. Learning to grow roses or anything for that matter in Texas versus Northern Illinois was like growing plants on another planet. The soil in Northern Illinois is rich black dirt, Texas soil is something they call gumbo and is essentially clay. I could stand on a spade and dig my own planting holes in Illinois, here I need a jack hammer and a pick and “Oui” better be able to do it together.  However, with that said I was able to put in my first dream rose garden in Texas, elevated beds, drip irrigation system and the roses never knew they were growing in Texas gumbo. Here’s the real bonus to growing roses in Texas; one can sometimes see their first rose bloom as early as Saint Patrick’s Day, March 17th , while your first rose blooms around Father’s Day in June in Northern Illinois. Here are your options: do an elevated bed with garden timbers, and this can be for any flower bed. Lay out the dimensions of the bed with a string line. Remove the sod from the area and turn over the existing subsoil. Add these organic soil amendments:

A layer of each of these organics

Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss

Well Rotted Compost

Ground Bark

Composted Manure


Garden Gypsum

Super Phosphate at about 6-8 pounds per 100 square feet of bed area.

Blend all mixture together with a rototiller. Now your plants won’t even know they are growing in Texas gumbo. The raised bed should have good drainage, roses and most plantings love lots of water but do not like to have their “feet wet” as the saying goes.

Mark Chamblee
Mark Chamblee

Converting Clay Soils 

I work extensively with the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association (TNLA) and I had an in-depth conversation with Mark Chamblee TMCNP, State Director of TNLA Region III, of Chamblee’s Rose Nursery. Chamblee’s Rose Nursery Web site address is:

The FAQ and INFO link is especially helpful and their phone number is 800-256-7673.

I talked with Mark about the phosphorus build up and clay problems in Texas soils and he suggested converting clay beds into rich planting soil by using this process. I have been starting this process, and it is working beautifully. Here is what Mark Chamblee suggests is a way to convert Texas gumbo into a bed rich in nutrients for your plantings:

Use these organic soil amendments:

Expanded Shale

Finished compost or Cotton Burr Compost

Shredded Hard Wood Mulch

Add three inches of expanded shale and work into and till into the clay until you reach 6-8” depth. Then add 3 inches of finished compost or cotton burr compost. Top with shredded hardwood mulch, the bottom inch of the hard wood becomes mulch and the microbials break down the nutrients.

Don’t be intimidated by the organics, I buy them at the local nurseries like Calloway’s and the farm and feed stores. In closing let me tell you how too much of a good thing can lead to phosphorous build up in the soils. In Illinois my garden was on the North Eastern Illinois Rose Society Garden Tour and I heard one of the most wonderful collectable phrases one could ever hope to hear “Gaga, You have perfect rose culture.” Now, this was from a scientist and board member of the rose society and I nearly swooned. I had achieved perfect rose culture more along instinctive lines and great teachers, one who called himself an octogenarian rosarian from the Libertyville, Illinois Men’s Garden Club and of course my mother. So in Texas my instincts lead me a bit astray and into high phosphorous trouble. Translation: it was a classic case of, if a little bit is good a lot is better. How did this happen? I read that horse manure was the cat’s meow for organic fertilizer. And let me tell you, these roses had already had a witch’s brew of fish emulsion, bat guano, duck manure and rotted cow manure, not all at once of course. So I was at one of my favorite haunts, the farm & feed store with you know who, Gabrielle, who was probably angling for a Breyer horse.  And I instinctively knew a horse woman when I saw her. She was dressed as a horse woman and carried herself as landed gentry so I immediately ask her if she had horses and then of course she would have or know where I could find horse manure. The next thing you know Gabrielle and I were mucking out her stalls and loading up the trunk of my Gaga-mobile with horse manure. I carefully lined the trunk with double gauge hefty garbage bags to keep the trunk immaculate of course. One cannot have horse manure spread all over one’s trunk now can one? Certainly not, and maintain any dignity no matter how much you want horse manure for the roses. I shoveled and worked my precious black gold into the beds and then something happened. Things didn’t seem right and then I read horse manure that is not seasoned properly can have critters, bad ones, and add way to much nitrogen, etc. And I have been correcting that little problem ever since. This lovely and generous horsewoman turned out to be a city council woman who also brought a pick-up truck of horse manure over on an evening that it turned out to be that I was entertaining a former retired colonel from the Pentagon, and some work associates and although not the best timing we unloaded the horse manure, talked politics, the colonel entertained everyone by cajoling the council woman for her very liberal opinions and still we had a lovely social visit in the rose garden.

Another great resourse from the Texas Nursery And Landscape Association (TNLA) and I recommend buying, is The Best of Texas Landscape Guide 2nd Edition, and it’s only $8.75. All proceeds go to support TNLA programs. I do not work for or benefit in any way from your purchase of this book. It is just a valuable resource and I use it. There are three ways to order:

1.Download order form and fax to 512-280-3012

2. Purchase online

3. Call 800-880-0343