The subject is still roses



There was a college-town-idiosyncratic and decidedly rural
feel to my first taste of the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days program. I visited
two gardens and a private rose nursery in and around Ithaca, NY with Kathy/Cold
Climate Gardening
. I know that Susan has been awed by the apparent wealth of
the properties in Virginia and Raleigh; that is not the primary impression one
gets in Tompkins County, though certainly there are some well-heeled citizens
here. Here are images from the whole day, but this post will just touch on one



Lillian Gibson (1938)

The Der Rosenmeister nursery is just outside of town, and is
run by avid rosarian Lee Ginenthal. His relatively modest house is surrounded
by roses, in borders (with perennials), beds, and growing over structures. An
area off to the side has rows of potted roses for sale. There are old roses,
species, rugosas, Explorers, Kordes, and Griffith Buck roses, with the emphasis
on hardiness. This is an area where May frosts can create 25 degree overnights.
Ginenthal talked a bit about what he does for the roses, which is basically
nothing. No spraying, no feeding, some shovelfuls of compost now and then
and—more frequently—mulching. 



Ginenthal’s roses are nearly all of the multi-petaled,
occasionally blowsy-looking old-fashioned variety. How old-fashioned? You can
buy the Apothecary Rose, dating from 1400, the Rosa Mundi (1560), or the
Ghislaine de Feligonde (1916), a lovely variety we saw growing along the
border—just to name 3. There are hundreds. These are the types of roses
frequently dissed by many exhibiting rosarians, who don’t like what they consider to
be the messy form of the old roses, and don’t bother with species and explorer
types at all


Lee Ginenthal

Ginenthal also grows/creates bonsai, and has a fulltime job
in the Ithaca school system. There are 10 Buckeye chickens on the property, who
help keep Japanese beetles in check. Der Rosenmeister is open all summer by
appointment; there are also workshops and an annual Open House takes place this
Friday. Was I able to leave this place without buying a big climber I’ll be
hard put to site on my tiny property? I was not. 

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regular radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world, and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. I can’t imagine anyone visiting a rose nursery and coming away empty handed. I will go right to the link and see what I can order. I already have the three roses you mentioned. The Apothecary rose is running wild in a wet spot right next to where we park our car.

  2. So which one tempted you? I love that you wrote this focusing on roses which don’t need molly coddling. You know I don’t do that with my roses, and I grow those which are not for exhibition. I’m afraid of the chemicals you need to keep blackspot in check in Oklahoma, and they truly don’t bloom that much. I much prefer the beauties shown here and in your photo album. Thanks.~~Dee

  3. Dee, I bought the Kordes Moonlight. It is a yellow/apricot climber that I thought would complement the other yellow climber I have in back of the house, on the alley. It is very difficult to choose here. Now that I know about this place, I am considering coming here whenever I want roses.

  4. SHE SAID: I only have one rose but it is this type and I don’t do anything to it. Even in a fairly shady spot, it still flowers enough (see my Bloom Day post) to make it worthwhile. There is no fragrance like that of the old roses.

  5. Wonderful he is able to grow roses without spraying. Also what that says for newer high maintenance hybrids is keen.

    Nice to see a dedicated gardener such as this

    The TROLL

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