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Cemetery Rose Collections

One of the spring activities which I notably enjoy doing is to seek out the older cemeteries in our area and seeing what manner of antique roses are growing wild there global rose reviews. These beautiful but forgotten rose beauties are not restricted to cemeteries alone but can occasionally be discovered in the yards of old abandoned houses as well as in unused vacant lots. The sad part of this is that these wonderful plants have been forsaken by their planter and the rest of society. Preserving heritage roses found in the local graveyards can readily reveal hundreds of antique and old garden rose varieties and in some cases rare specimens that are difficult or near impossible to obtain. Emphasis is usually placed upon those roses which are retrieved from abandoned sites, homesteads, cemeteries or along roadsides throughout the nation.

The one training topic which I have found to be lacking is the availability of hands-on workshops which deal with the topics of pruning climbing roses and re-rooting them. Remember some of the tales you heard years ago on how so and so would place a small rose stem into the ground and over it place a Mason jar to encourage growth? Or perhaps you recall the story of the early pioneers as they made their way out west in their covered wagons and bringing with them their cuttings from their favorite rose bushes? To me growing roses from cuttings has always provided an appreciation of the plant. I see nothing complicated about taking a small rose cutting and rooting it in order to start a new plant. Naturally there are various means at our disposal to accomplish this task. It has been said that some people might get their kicks by “rose rustling” at one of the deserted cemeteries in the area. I am one of those people. Although most roses have a scientific name and to be proper and correct you should label your rose with its scientific name, I like to christen the roses which I stumble upon with that name of the deceased person where it was discovered. If I find a rose bush on the gravesite of Joe Smith than I fittingly name it out of respect to the deceased the Joe Smith Rose.

Nothing in life is free and even though you may think that those rose cutting obtained from a cemetery are without cost they are not. In the interest of good will and playing our part in beautifying the older cemeteries and grave, I like to prune and clean up the rose bushes which I find. I do not just take a single cutting from the rose bush but rather give it a manicured look when I am finished. The managers who oversee the cemetery where the roses are will greatly appreciate the time expended to clean up a few gravesites. This is a good policy to follow and ensures that future rose hunters will be welcomed with open arms. Personally, I would not be opposed for the management of these graves to create their own rose plants and sell them in order to generate enough funds to help with garden maintenance, irrigation and repairing of damaged headstones.

Incidentally, years ago I had a lawn service and we specialized in lawn care for cemeteries. In order to win the contracts we would need to provide a million dollar insurance policy in the event we caused any damage to the headstones. We are lucky at this time that we as rose collectors do not have to comply with this sort of directive. Please do not ruin it for others and take care in all you do in collecting your rose cuttings. Various historic rose collections often include several species of roses which are native to your particular part of the country. Rose lovers who discover these surviving roses which have been neglected and abandoned frequently will trim the plant and take cutting from their castoff branches. These cuttings will eventually grow and can be planted elsewhere. It is totally possible that you may find some unidentified cultures of roses which are unknown of in our modern times.

Who knows what you may find hidden in these graveyards. Perhaps you will uncover a unique seedling which will grow for many years and continuously bears huge clusters of flowers as it develops with its strong fragrance and odor. One rose bush I saw had grown into an unattractively shaped shrub which stood approximately five feet tall and as much as six feet wide. It was totally out of control. If you wish to keep your bush small you can prune and shape it as you please.

Once you have obtained your rose cuttings from the cemetery you can consider propagating them. Here are a few important tips to ensure that your cuttings take root.

When making your rose cuttings make sure to use very sharp cutters or you will risk crushing your rose stem. Make sure that all of the cuttings you obtain are from young but firm stems. These could be those stems where the flowers are beginning to fade or even from the fallen rose petals found around the plant. On some rose plants you may wish to use the stems from where the flowers have begun to fade in the springtime. Always keep your cuttings moist and provide good air circulation and plenty of sunlight. When you take your cuttings allow about 6 inches of stem with at least 3 bud eyes.