Sustainability at Select Roses
I have been gardening since I was a child, and I almost hate to use the word "sustainable" just because it has become a fashionable buzz-word. Who would have known that the type of gardening I learned from my grandmother and my parents would one day become an "in" thing? Funny how things come around!
Working with and respecting the land is a long tradition in my family; it began in both my grandfather's homesteading farm in Alberta, and my other grandparents' 60s and 70s East Vancouver city garden. We always had a vegetable garden growing up. I just assumed everyone did! I remember the first time I tasted store-bought jam as a teenager -- it was weird stuff and sure didn’t taste like mom's. Needless to say, taking care of the land was of prime importance because it was what fed us! We were taught to have respect for our neighbours, our waterways, creeks, ditches and soil. Recycling was done, for no other reason than it was wasteful and wrong not to!
I remember dad hounding me in the early years about spraying the roses and cautioning me not let any of that stuff drift to the neighbours or run into the ditches. He understood that the reasonable, and careful use of a low-toxicity pesticide may at times be needed, but that it must be done in a safe, fully sustainable way. If I did it any other way, I would have been given a thrashing! Mom explained the importance of keeping our farm clean and being very aware of the birds and wildlife around us. She was quick to notice a wild rabbit nibbling at the flowers, and even quicker to warn me that I had better not be using anything to hurt those bunnies. Mom spotted the little green frogs in our greenhouse, and point them out so I realized that nature was about. Those lessons have stuck with me and have formed my beliefs in protecting our small piece of land so it will grow stronger with the passing years. It is and always has been very personal to me. I guess I failed the lesson where they tell us not to make business personal--because mine is, very much so.
I realize that every decision I make on the farm has an effect on the environment. Those decisions are made based on education, consultation, and common sense. I fully realize that I am the steward of our land for just a short while, and I promise to not bring it harm on my watch. After all, someone will live here after me and they have to eat the food grown in this soil and watered from our aquifer. Sometimes it costs me a few bucks more to do what I feel in my heart is the right thing, but so be it. When my little dream world called Select Roses ends, I know it will end with birds singing from our trees and bees lifting pollen from the flowers. It can be done.
As Grandma would say, "Just use your head, boy!"
More on Common Sense Rose Growing
If you want to learn more about common sense rose growing, I highly recommend you read my friend Paul Zimmerman's website. Paul a USA rose guru, and he has some outstanding how-to videos along with well-written articles that echo my thoughts on growing roses.
It all starts with buying a healthy plant suited for your climate, and giving it a chance to root in and thrive. If you see the odd spotted leaf on a plant, do what Paul and I do, turn towards its flowers and enjoy them rather than focus on the minor problem. You will be amazed how much more enjoyable roses are once you stop asking them to be perfect at all times. I don’t know of any plant that is perfect, and I’m still trying to find just one perfect person! I love a rose for what it can be, not what it can’t be. They all have so much to offer and the fun is in tasting those flavours.
Take time to stop and smell the roses,