Virtual Tour of Gardens: Strowd Garden

Witherspoon Rose Culture Presents:
Virtual Tour of the Gene Strowd Community Garden

We live in a society that champions speed and efficiency.  Smartphones make it easy to communicate without verbal communication and almost eliminate the need for face to face contact.  These advances in technology, frequency of relocation, and busier schedules have all contributed to an overall sense of isolation in our society.  We truly have to work to be a part of a community, but it is a refreshing experience to be a part of something larger than ourselves.  Gene Strowd was a man who championed community, and over four hundred and fifty roses stand as a testament to that fact in the Gene Strowd Community Garden in Chapel Hill, NC. 

Gene Strowd Community Garden

Gene Strowd was a rosarian on the national level, but his heart was obviously dedicated to his home community of Chapel Hill and Carrboro.  Mr. Strowd used roses as a way of engaging with people and bringing beauty into the lives of those he came in contact with daily.  In 1987, he proposed the idea of a community rose garden where everyone was welcome to come and experience the beauty that only roses can provide.  Gene Strowd, along with the Chapel Hill Rose Society and the Chapel Hill Parks and Recreation Department, designed the layout of the garden and construction began in 1988.

Climbing Iceberg

As you walk into the garden, you get a sense of what Gene Strowd hoped to accomplish by planting a rose garden in the middle of Chapel Hill.  There are benches around the garden where you can sit and have a face to face conversation with friends.  You will hear joyful giggles from the playground that is located directly adjacent to the garden, and if you take time to sit in the gazebo at the back of garden you will see how many people from the community take time to stop and smell the roses.  The copper fountain in the center of the garden provides a soundtrack to the rose garden with soothing sounds of trickling water, and the brick pathways lead you through the fragrant beds of roses that encourage you to take time out of your busy day to enjoy pure beauty.

Raised Brick Bed

Both Gene and his beautiful bride, Irene, have passed on from this world, but through Strowd Roses, Inc their commitment to the community of Chapel Hill and Carrboro continues on to this day.  Not only does Strowd Roses, Inc fund the maintenance of the Gene Strowd Garden, they also provide funding for community organizations that improve the quality of life for the community of Chapel Hill and Carrboro.

Living in a society where speed and efficiency are often championed over personal connection, it is refreshing to step into a world of beauty where we can slow down and enjoy the people around us.  Gene Strowd and his wife Irene dedicated their lives and their money to promote a community where helping one another and enjoying togetherness was advocated for above all else.

Carefree Spirit  
Climbing America
Copper Fountain

Seating area in the gazebo


Double Delight



Join us next time for our third stop on the Witherspoon Virtual Tour of Gardens!

Would you like for your garden to be featured in our virtual tour of gardens?  
Email Kelley Triplett at

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Witherspoon also provides professional rose care services.  We offer preventative and corrective spraying for pests and diseases, fertilizing, pruning, mulching, and planting.

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What’s Beneath Your Feet?

Soil Samples 
What’s Beneath Your Feet?

In the long run there are only two things that are always touching your rose bushes, soil and air.  If that air happens to be relatively dry and 75 degrees your bushes will thrive.  On the other hand, if that air is 95 degrees with 95% humidity your bushes will struggle.  The same is true for soil.  Healthy soil is the foundation for your bushes and it can mean the difference between thriving and barely surviving.  Soil is the only thing that delivers nutrients to your rose bushes which makes it the most important factor in growing beautiful roses.
Soil chemistry is extremely complicated and there are a lot of factors that go into healthy soil.  As with most things simple is better so we will concentrate on the big factors.
pH – it is important to know the pH of your soil.  For roses you want the pH to be between 6.0 and 6.5.  pH will affect how nutrients are made available to your rose bush.  Proper pH will let your bushes get the most out of the nutrients in the soil and the fertilizer that you put down.  Use the Digital Soil pH Meter to check your soil throughout the growing season.
Nutrients – we ask a lot from our roses.  They are always growing new roses for us to cut and enjoy.  All of that growth takes a lot food and roses are definitely heavy feeders.  A good base of lots of cow manure when you plant your rose bush is extremely important.  Composted cow manure delivers a large variety of nutrients to your rose bushes over several years.  It is well worth it to spend a little more at the beginning to give your plants the nutrients they need for years to come.
Fertilizer – fertilizer is the main course for your roses.  The N-P-K delivered by fertilizers allows your bushes to continue to thrive and bloom.  Whether you use Witherspoon Premium Rose Fertilizer or an organic option it is important to remember that the fertilizer is delivering nutrients to the soil and the soil is delivering them to the plant.  Sandy soils don’t hold on to nutrients like clay based soils do so you may have to increase your fertilizing regimen for those types of soils.  If you are not receiving a lot of rain, make sure that your irrigation system is set up in a way that will help the fertilizer deliver the nutrients to the soil.
Texture – roses like to stretch.  They want to spread their feeder roots as far as possible to find every bit of nutrition they can.  If not preparing a full bed for your roses, it is important to dig a wide hole and diligently prepare the soil.  In this case sandier soils have an advantage because the roots easily move through the soil.  On the other hand, compacted clay soil does not grow happy roses.  When planting roses, we recommend planting with our Witherspoon Premium Planting Mix.  Whether you have sandy or clay soil, Witherspoon Premium Planting Mix is great product to use.  It is a mixture of cow manure, soil conditioner, and PermaTill (a product that helps keep clay soils from compacting).
Our roses offer us so much joy.  If they are not happy in their soil, they are unable to get up and go find a better spot.  They depend on us to prepare and maintain their growing environment for them.  Spend a little extra time and money to properly prepare the soil when you plant your rose bush, check it each month, and it will thank you for years to come with bountiful bouquets of beautiful blooms.

Success in the Rose Garden: A Yearly Evaluation

Success in the Rose Garden: A Yearly Evaluation

It’s a pleasant sunny fall morning.  You take your breakfast on the patio to admire your rose garden.  The morning light shines down on your roses like a beacon.  As you sip your coffee and chew your food you ponder over the successes and failures of your roses. 
So, what is the measure of your success?  Is it that you’ve had an abundance of flowers to cut and enjoy?  Is that you’ve managed to prevent blackspot?  Or is it a deeper understanding of how your garden performs from season to season? 
As our Rose Care Technicians prepare to evaluate our customers’ gardens we think about what it takes to grow great roses.  When I hear the words “fat bushes” from the mouths of our techs I know it means that the rose bushes are huge and often towering overhead, loaded with leaves and flowers from multiple canes which stem from large crowns at the base.  It makes caring for roses seem like child’s play when there are few challenges to overcome. 
Our annual evaluation process has many facets.  We determine the need for fertility and a need to rework the bed area using our specially blended Witherspoon Premium Planting Mix for better overall growing performance.  We look at whether or not trees are inhibiting the growth in some way either by way of too much shade or by way of the tree’s roots invading the bed area.  We also consider perpetual damage by deer, rabbits or voles to identify the need for repellents or fencing. 
These things are mostly environmental, and improvements can be made to liven up the roses.  Certainly no one can argue that enriching the soil area in which the roses grow will be a worthless effort.  And no one can argue that your roses will perform much better with more sun exposure.  Even installing irrigation so the roses have a regular water supply is time and money well spent for the result of thriving roses.  And finding ways to keep the critters from eating that deliciously sweet flower bud means that the rose remains yours and yours alone. 
But what about the cultural tasks in the rose garden?  What improvements will be made by yearly pruning and removing the spent blooms regularly?  Let’s begin with pruning.  Pruning is a great way to rejuvenate the rose’s growth allowing the canes to produce an abundance of flowers on the new wood.  This yearly task is vital to the growth of your hybrid teas, grandifloras and floribundas

Now let’s look at deadheading.  During the active growing season the roses put on their full display of color.  Their bloom cycle is on about a 30-35 day schedule.  By removing the spent blooms you can aid the regeneration process allowing your roses to perform at their peak.  Hybrid teas, grandifloras and floribundasrespond very well to this treatment. 

What are some other factors to contemplate when thinking about evaluating your success?  Let’s consider that some roses simply might not be suitable to your growing conditions.   A particular rose may look great in someone else’s yard, but it struggles in yours.  There could be a host of reasons from soil to fertility to overall general care.  You may have to acknowledge that it’s just time to get it out of the garden and try a different rose.  Fortunately, we have a wide variety of roses to choose from in all manner of colors.

I think the most important aspect in determining your success is the work you put into growing your roses.  Take a honest look at your maintenance schedule.  For example, roses are heavy feeders.  Are you really using the right kind of fertilizer at the right time of year?  When there’s no adequate rain, are you supplementing with the proper amount of water?  Are you actively deadheading the roses to help them produce more?  If the canes are spindly and weak should you just throw in the towel on that particular rose or keep on fighting to get it to do something?  Is it finally time to part ways with the unthrifty producers in the garden to trade them out for better bushes? 

It’s not easy to make the decision to remove roses, especially if they have sentimental value.  Keep in mind this investment in your landscape is something you want to show off, something to be proud of.   The reward is beautifully performing roses that you can enjoy and share with others.  So, putting in the effort is well worth it.