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Life & Work with Pamela Greenewald

Today we’d like to introduce you to Pamela Greenewald.  

Hi Pamela, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
In 1991 my husband and I opened and restored an old iconic farmhouse on 441 near Gainesville and opened a Garden Boutique we entitled Angel Gardens. We sold everything from plants to statuary, garden gifts, angels, and pond supplies. We moved another old farmhouse to the property and opened the first Tea Room in Gainesville called the Carousel Cafe and Tea House. This was a destination place for the 16 years we were in business. We had many workshops on Organic Gardening and building ponds in addition to annual Fairy Festivals, weddings, and more. When we sold the property to another Garden Center in 2006, we kept the name and continued building ponds and doing landscape jobs. I had begun to experiment with growing roses, particularly the Antique varieties as we had been selling them for years. 

So, in 2006 I started my Rose Nursery under the same name (Angel Gardens, inc.) as it was incorporated. That was 16 years ago 

(The same number of years we ran the shop). The Nursery was located at our homestead north of Alachua where we resided for 35 years and is now located around the corner off of the Old Bellamy Road where we relocated 2 years ago. I do not keep hours but entertain customers by appointment only. Folks come from all over Florida and beyond to buy the roses in person, but my business is primarily mail order, shipping to all 50 states and beyond. I grow over 2000 varieties of roses, many rare with my nursery being the only one still growing many of these hard-to-find varieties. So many roses have been lost to commerce because the big companies providing the bulk of the bare root roses are selling new roses each year and dropping roses that were very successful in previous years. There are less than 10 mail-order rose nurseries in the US that do what I do. It is a niche business and being organic makes it even more rare. 

I grow my roses organically with no synthetic fertilizers or sprays. I have found this very easy to do in spite of the current belief that roses cannot be successfully grown (especially in Florida) without chemicals. This is a myth which I do my best to bust every day. My website is full of articles I have written for the American Rose Society when I served as the Good Earth Chairwoman for many years. I have 16 years of proof behind my methods. I am surprised to know that I am one of only 2 commercial rose nurseries in the US raising and selling roses this way and only one of 4 in the entire world! Go figure! There is a huge demand for organic rose petals to be used in apothecaries, and food products, and more recently there is an entire cigar industry cropping up selling cigars made from organic rose petals where different products may be inserted into these and smoked! 

The most important part of what I do is education. With knowledge and understanding comes confidence in the public to reconsider trying to grow roses with simple organic methods. What a pleasure this becomes when one realizes how very easy it truly is! 

I have done many things in my life the least of which is raising a family of 4 wonderful children with my husband of 44 years. 

I have raised dairy goats, home-schooled, taught kindergarten, been a lay midwife, started non-profits for the underserved, maintained an active Real estate License for over 45 years and became an ordained minister 15 yrs. ago, and ran a retail garden shop, among other things. In 2015 I began a non-profit called Rose Garden Angels, inc. which uses horticulture therapy to help Veterans who suffer from PTSD. These Veterans are growing roses for our wholesale wing entitled The Old Garden Rose Company, inc. The roses they grow may be found at places like Lukas’ Nursery in Oveido and other garden centers around Gainesville. This has been a rewarding program for all. We use the Homegrown by Heroes label and each rose comes with an American flag and organic care instructions. We welcome donations large or small to this important program. 

Readers may go to www.angelgardens.com to see our roses and make orders or just read about growing roses organically. 

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Moving the rose nursery was a real challenge 2 years ago. 

The daily struggles involve making sure the irrigation is running smoothly (roses must be watered daily in pots in Florida)! 

I have my irrigation system on a Smart Phone Program for the past few years so it has really simplified everything as I used to run all the zones on battery-operated timers. That got old as the battery would need to be replaced more frequently than I wanted. 

It’s like running a restaurant where each customer has to be satisfied and this is not always the case. I have had my share of incorrectly labeled roses, shipping mishaps, things like that.  Fortunately these are the exceptions and not the rule. Most roses are shipped quite easily and I have perfected my packing methods over the years. I have learned NOT to ship anything too small unless the customer is very aware. People must have patience when it comes to roses.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
My rose nursery specializes in growing over 2000 varieties of Modern as well as Old Garden Roses, many of which are very rare and hard to find. There are collectors of these roses all over the world. Many have been lost to commerce as newer varieties are introduced each year to take their place. The roses are grown from cuttings on their own roots as opposed to grafting or budding (the way most Commercial roses are sold). This process takes much longer but, in the end, one has a much healthier and longer-lived rose. The large Rose companies are listening to the demand for own-root roses and more and more roses are being offered bare roots on their own roots. 

The other thing that sets us apart is the fact that we grow roses in Florida using no synthetic chemicals, insecticides, or fertilizers. We are spreading the Good News about just how easy this is even in our hot humid state. Most people are unaware of the classes of Old Roses bred in the 1800s whose clones have been passed down through generations and have the capacity to withstand the heat and humidity and rarely have any disease problems. These are the Old Tea Roses, the Chinas, Polyanthas, Noisettes, Bourbons, and many Climbers and Ramblers. They actually THRIVE in our climate! We strive to educate the public one customer at a time. After hearing about the alternatives, they usually have an epiphany and an “Aha” moment. 

For example, most people are told one cannot grow roses in Florida without using Fortuniana Rootstock. They are told that nematodes will attack the roses. But the TRUTH is, if one’s garden is free of microbe-destroying chemicals, then the army of good nematodes that have been allowed to live (95% of all nematodes) will keep the 5% bad ones at bay and there will never be a problem. Furthermore, Fortuniana rootstock is only resistant because of its shallow roots which never come into contact with the aenerobic nematodes which live 2 feet under the ground. So now the rose grafted on this rootstock will tend to become a monster, growing much taller than it would have if it had been grown on its own roots. Because of the shallow roots, gardeners have to hold the rose up with rebar to keep it from blowing over all the time. 

An “own-root rose” can live over 100 years through generations compared to a coddled chemically -sprayed, over-medicated grafted rose which will be lucky to survive for 10-15 years under the best conditions. Another interesting fact most rose growers do not know if that the reason grafted roses cannot live long is because the rootstock rose is usually a once-blooming rose that blooms for 6 weeks a year. These are chosen because they put all of their energy into growing huge quickly. But by attaching another rose to the top of this (called the Scion), which will bloom continuously, it is no wonder that the rootstock rose cannot sustain the bloom cycles it was never meant to sustain. Therefore, it becomes literally exhausted over a period of time and dies. Again, not your fault! 

This is why people always say “I can’t grow roses”. In fact, it is not their fault, it is just the way the roses are grown commercially. One buys a rose that has been turned into a drug addict. When the homeowner does not have its next “fix” which has been fed continuously in the watering system, it starts to go through withdrawals which ultimately leads to its death in short order. It is no wonder why people think they cannot grow roses! 

What matters most to you?
I think what matters most to me is that folks understand roses, the why, and the how. I want people to understand just how EASY it is to work with the Divine Intelligence of Nature. It has been designed so perfectly if we just get out of our own way! 

First comes the Pest and then comes the Predator. First comes the food (the thrips, the aphids, etc.), and then comes the hungry clean-up crew, the ladybugs, the dragonflies, butterflies, and the myriad other beneficial insects that have been 

ALLOWED TO LIVE in our gardens (seen as well as unseen). They become the Army we need to combat the problems that arise and after a short while we realize that everything is in such beautiful Balance, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly! We need it all for it to work. There need to be some bad insects around to feed the good ones. Same with the microbes. The forest doesn’t have anyone taking care of the trees, etc. because all of the microbes, good and bad are working together to decompose and to feed new life in a perfectly designed system. It is also a matter of All or Nothing. You cannot use “some “chemicals and also use organic methods because you will be killing off many beneficial and will not have a large enough army working for you. 

I recently learned that man has only discovered less than 1% of all the micro-organisms living in Nature! This means that if we purchase good microbes for our gardens, we are missing out on 99% of them! So, a good method is to go into the woods near one’s home and gather up leaf mold where ALL of the microbes for that indigenous area exist and use them to make teas and fertilizers for our gardens. Whoa! That is profound to me. 

Pricing:

  • Quart-sized roses – $20
  • Gallon-sized roses – $25
  • 3 gallon sized bare root roses- $35
  • Rose Garden design — $250

Contact Info:

  • Website: www.angelgardens.com
  • Instagram: @Rosewhisperer
  • Facebook: Angel Gardens
  • Youtube: The Antique Rose Show


Image Credits
Pamela Greenewald

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