Paul Blankenship shoos aside those who reject roses based on a perceived ideal of the rose's degree of difficulty.
The Augusta area is a great place for roses: roses skate through our mild winters and easily repeat blooms through the long warm seasons. Feed and water them and you are rewarded with what most consider the most beautiful of flowers.
Yes, you must spray or use a ground drench to control black spot on the modern roses or the plants will lose its leaves. And it can die if it goes through repeated leaf-loss. Spray fungicide must be used once a week, but the ground drenches can be used just once a month. You can find both products with insecticide and even with a third bonus of fertilizer.
If you're still leery of roses there's a perfect chance to reform tomorrow at the CSRA Wine Festival and Augusta Rose Show at the Savannah Rapids Pavilion in Martinez. Paul says the roses will fill the room - seriously. An estimated 30 exhibitors are expected, many of whom are like Paul and Charlotte who will take 60 to 70 roses for the show.
It's a big day for the Augusta Rose Society, too. This year is the group's 50th year. It was founded by local rose lovers in 1960 and associated with the American Rose Society the same year.
Paul and Charlotte started with a few rose bushes in 1972. They thought it would an easy hobby for the weekends. Their collection at their North Augusta home now numbers several hundred. It is protected by an electric fence to keep the deer at bay.
"They are so indescribably beautiful and therapeutic ... when you look at a rose it fills your conscience," Paul said.
If you are feeling stressed or depressed, he advises spending some time with roses. And if you have a friend who is in that position or ill, roses cut from your own garden will make the most personal and thoughtful gift possible, Paul said.
The two most important things roses need to be happy and flowering are water and fertilizer, Paul said.
Roses planted in a sandy/loose soil will need an inch of rain a week, which is about 6 gallons. In the heat like we have, more is appreciated, he said.
As for food, Paul and Charlotte said they have tried about everything, mostly because it's fun to see the response to different fertilizer. "They're not picky though," Paul said of roses. A monthly dose of 10-10-10 is perfectly acceptable. Special rose food is not necessary, he said.
What takes the most time with roses is what you do with all your flowers _ deadheading _ to keep them blooming.
If you are already a convert when it comes to roses, consider entering a rose (or as many as you want) at Saturday's show. Entering a rose is free and the society provides a vase, tag, water, coffee and donuts, and even a name if you're not sure it is.
Don't think that your rose isn't good enough if the stem's crooked or there's a torn leaf or such, Paul said. The judging is based on a 100-point scale and 70 of those points deal strictly with the bloom itself.
There are 61 classes to compete in and there are novice classes for those who have never competed in the rose show.
If you're still on the fence _ there will be cake and champagne, need I say more?
1 to 4 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 2) Augusta Rose Show and the CSRA Wine Festival at the Savannah Rapids Pavilion in Martinez. Viewing the roses is free. The Wine Festival cost is $40 (only $15 for designated drivers). The event raises money for Breast Cancer Support.
If you would like more information about roses or the Augusta Rose Society, see theaugustarosesociety.org or check out the group's Facebook page.