Tales from the Garden – Part 1

I love gardening. I took it up many years ago when I had a high stress job and was looking for a way to relax. Several of my friends suggested Yoga. I took a class but never seemed to be able to really get into it. Fortunately I had summers off. One summer, I decided to volunteer at the Chicago Botanic Garden. That’s when I realized I’d found something wonderful.

CBG Rose Garden 1


From the Chicago Botanic Garden

I looked forward to driving out there one day a week and either working in the garden or showing people around.

The first year I worked as part of a team in the rose garden. I learned a lot about roses that summer. The Heirloom or Old Garden Roses were all introduced before 1867 and have a wonderful fragrance. But, usually they only bloom once a season. The Modern Roses, which came after, usually bloom continually from summer to the first frost, but they have no fragrance.

When the flowers die, you don’t just cut the dead ones off. You have to cut in just the right place so the plant will grow more buds and continue to have flowers.

It’s important to clean up the dead flowers that have fallen to the ground and other debris. Roses can get infected with various diseases. It’s important to keep them healthy.

It’s also necessary to choose the correct rose for the climate you’re living in. In Illinois and Michigan, we need roses that are winter hardy. That means they can survive the cold and ice and snow and return in the spring ready to bloom again.

Roses need sun and lots of it. So it’s essential to find a place that gets six hours of direct sun a day. It’s even better if it’s morning sun.

CBG Rose Garden 2


From the Chicago Botanic Garden

I learned many other things about roses that summer. But, most important, every time I started driving out to the Chicago Botanic Garden, I felt myself start to relax. I felt all my tension and stress start to dissolve and float away and realized I was smiling.

Next time I’ll tell you what happened the second summer I volunteered.

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