On Roses – Planting, Pruning and Caring for the Queen of Flowers

Much earlier this year I began to cast about for an alternative market for my writing. Needless to say, that market and I had to have something in common, if only to allow me to write about what I already know and to keep the research to a bare minimum.

So, once I put aside any military or security-related projects I was left with either woodworking, furniture restoration or gardening. I have no interest in working on military or security projects right now, and I surely don’t want to invest in loads of photography which woodworking or furniture restoration would require.

That left me with gardening, which, it turns out, is a very large market, indeed. But there are lots and lots of books and magazines on gardening, and they all depend on loads of pretty, well laid out photography to attract the attention of potential readers. But I don’t want to do that.

What I am going to do is to write on Roses, and focus on what I know about planting, pruning and caring for the lovely critters.  I’ve done it for years.

What few of you know is that my first fifteen years of working for a living were entirely spent in grounds work; formal botanic gardens, commercial greenhouses, ritzy golf courses, private homes and large corporate headquarters. And almost all of them had rose plantings of one sort or another.

I learned the gardener’s trade from a few people who grew up in it. In fact, I can honestly state that I grew up in it, crouching at my grandmother’s feet (well, her huge black brogans, anyway). She came over to America from Hungary in 1917, and when I met her in Orlando in 1954, her Hungarian accent was still very prominent. But she came from a family of orchardists and cut flower growers near Budapest and knew the business inside and out.

My intention is to focus on what those glossy magazine-style gardening books you see in hardware stores and those many books you can find in bookstores don’t spend a lot of time on (and if they do it is usually in a technical language few people can do anything about, since their eyes glaze over so they can no longer see the words on the page).

Right now I have over half of the text written and the majority of the photography is edited and pencil sketches extracted and saved. I hope to have the remainder of the text done by the end of this week.

I am going to provide the WHY behind the proper techniques professional gardeners (as opposed to day labor workers pushing mowers and walking with leaf blowers on their backs) use to plant and care for roses. Most gardeners have little knowledge of rose care, in any event.

It really can be very specialized work. While roses are at heart briars, commercial roses are almost all grafted, which carries its own issues, and getting the most out of a rose does require some basic knowledge and an understanding of what is going on under the ground and how it affects the plant and the blooms.

So that is my latest project. I hope to have it out some time this fall, complete with a few pencil sketches based on digital photographs to illustrate some of the more important issues people have to deal with in caring for these unique and interesting plants.

Once “On Roses” is published for the Kindle, I will be back to writing the fifth novel in the Terry Rankin series. It doesn’t even have a name yet, though, and I have little or no idea what it will be about.

About Gary Showalter

Gary Showalter was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. He lived in Aruba, Florida and the Panama Canal Zone before joining the U.S. Army during the 1960s. Following his discharge from the Army, Mr. Showalter picked cotton in East Texas, baled hay in Ardmore Oklahoma, sold light bulbs in Los Angeles, California, and built cattle pens in Fallon, Nevada (during a blizzard, of course). After settling in Atlanta, Georgia, Mr. Showalter worked as a professional gardener before turning his hand to furniture making. In 1981, he moved to Israel, married, and raised four children while working as a furniture maker, silversmith, goldsmith, and ornamental wood turner. He served in the Israel Defense Forces Reserves for sixteen years, and when not on active duty he worked in government and private security. He has also served in senior management positions in two software development companies in Israel. During his time in Israel, Mr. Showalter published articles dealing with international terror and the Israel-Arab conflict in the Jerusalem Post, Israel national News and several political science web sites. Mr. Showalter returned to the United States in the fall of 2003, to care for an elderly parent. He published his first novel, “The Big Bend”, in the fall of 2008. His second novel, “Hog Valley”, is now in print. Mr. Showalter's third novel, “Twisted Key”, was published in the fall of 2011, and his fourth novel, "Lonesome Cove" is now available in Kindle format and should be published in paper near the end of 2012. Those words were written a few years ago. Frankly speaking, the literary well has dried up. I now live in Dunnellon, Fl, where I amworking as the caretaker on a horse farm and looking to build a workshop here on the property where I can get back to building furniture. With any luck I will be sinking piers some time early in November and hope to have the floor joists ready for flooring by the end of the month. I'll get back to you on that.
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2 Responses to On Roses – Planting, Pruning and Caring for the Queen of Flowers

  1. dianesloftis says:

    Interesting! A man of many talents! Will your personal photographs and pencils sketches be a part of “On Roses” once it is released?

    • The pencil sketches are made from cropped sections of the photographs that illustrate problem areas where pruning is necessary. Once I had each section cleaned up of obstruction so the problem is easy to understand, I converted that finished photo into a pencil sketch. Since the majority of Kindles are black and white I will use black and white pencil drawings for the sake of clarity.

      I hope to have the manuscript – complete with sketches, of course, available for review and comments in the next ten days or so. Are you available to review and comment? I’ll send you a PDF file, if you are.

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