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Couple's Colorful Rose Garden Captivates Visitors

St. Charles Rose Society Members, Marion and Richard Burkholder, have a passion for roses that grows and grows.

Marion and Richard Burkholder’s passion for roses dates back as far as they can remember.

Their fathers’ both tended to rose gardens. During the first year of their marriage, Marion’s dad stopped by with a gift—a World’s Fair rose with beautiful blooms. Since then, they have tended to over several hundred plants at homes in Missouri and Kentucky.

Each time the Burkholder’s planted a new rose garden, their son, Dennis, would say, “A pool would have been a lot better.”

The couple’s garden in St. Peters is a whimsical setting inviting visitors to stop, linger and ‘smell the roses’.

Rose varieties include lyrical names such as Scentimental, Melody Parfumee and Carefree Wonder, and share space with patriotic-named varieties like Mrs. Lincoln, Chicago Peace and Olympus. Some are fragrant, some are single-petaled, but all are colorful.

Richard ensures the roses are properly nourished by deep-watering twice weekly. He installed a pvc pipe system with emitters that spray within a four-foot diameter of the roses. The potted roses are hand-watered daily. He uses 12-12-12 fertilizer one to two times a year for an energy and bloom boost for the plants. 

Two of the Burkholder’s favorite roses are the Dortmund and Watercolors varieties.

The couple first noticed the red Dortmund variety cascading on rooftops on a 1995 visit to the seaside town of Nantucket, and seemed captivated by the sight. The Dortmund, a single-petal rose, sprouts pretty berries in the fall.  The rose typically grows four to five feet tall, as well as wide. A handmade arbor built by Richard showcases the roses.

Another favorite, Watercolors, a shrub rose, was first acquired by the Burkholders on a visit to Texas. It blooms all summer long until first frost. The flowers change colors from red, to pink to yellow.

“Rose gardening grows on you,” Richard said. 

“It’s addictive,” Marion added.

Since 1975, Richard and Marion have been active members of the St. Charles County Rose Society. Marion, 2012 society president, has served on the board for over five years.

The Rose Society purchases organic products and combines a ‘secret’ mix of alfalfa meal, fish meal, cottonseed meal and blood meal which is made available to its members. This mix aids in good growing conditions and promotes overall plant health. Richard typically applies about a cup of the meal mix once in the spring on every bush.

The organization is active in the community as a non-profit teaching group, and reaches out by helping people grow healthy roses. Every April, the group visits Daniel’s Greenhouse Nursery in St. Peters and assists customers in rose selection and advice about troublesome rose diseases. During the year, members set up a display on historic Main Street in St. Charles, and host a teaching seminar at in St. Charles.

The society offers in-home advice to growers with rose problems by consulting Rosarians. The Burkholder’s friends, Arlene Ring and Lloyd Kneemiller, both Master Rosarians, do not charge for consultations, and anyone can utilize their services.

The District Rose Show and Convention, slated for September 22, in Washington, MO attracts members from four states to exhibit their rose displays and attend seminars. This year the event will be hosted by three area societies – The St. Charles Rose Society, The Rose Society of Great St. Louis and The Tri-County Rose Society of Washington, MO.  It is open to anyone, free of charge.

The St. Charles Rose Society meets at the Spencer Library on the second level at 7 p.m. the second Tuesday of the month, with some exceptions.

The Burkholder’s say, “Rose growing isn’t just a hobby–it’s a social networking.” 

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