Please Note: Late in 1999, when John became sidelined by
the debilitating affects of his cancer, he shut down his small retail home nursery
and after his death in February of 2000 his family was forced to also
his rose garden to the public. The reason for presenting this piece about a
garden that is no longer open daily is to give you a better understanding of the
man who created it and whom this web site is dedicated to.
Good news! John's family decided as long as the garden can be kept up that there will be a "Memorial Open Garden" event each year. The garden will be open one or two days on a weekend late in April or early May when the garden is in full bloom and it is at its best. We will post an announcement with the exact date here when it has been set.
1998 Open Garden news release written by John Dallas
This year John's Rose Garden will
celebrate it's 25th year as an "Open Garden". We have welcomed friends,
neighbors and visitors from all parts of the world to this garden during the
last 25 years as it continued to mature into what it is today. Every year, hundreds
of people have come to enjoy a stroll along the paths, to admire the hundreds
of roses of all types, not only the well known hybrid teas and floribundas,
but also the miniatures, shrubs, and the large group we call "Old Garden Roses".
Here will also be found newer "English" roses that have been introduced and
hybridized by David Austin. I definitely enjoy their unique forms, old rose
scent and unusual colors, even if they tend to be ungainly at times. Visitors
are informed that this is not just a rose garden, but more a garden with many
roses. At least 25 different types of trees give the garden a look of permanency
now that they have matured. During early spring, thousands of daffodils and
other spring bulbs make one realize that it will soon be time for visitors to
stop by and see what 25 years have brought to this garden.
The garden was started when we
moved from a home in downtown Napa to this semi-rural area with its large open
area full of weeds. As I had planned to transplant about a dozen roses from
my previous garden, I started a "Garden of Roses". Little by little this acre
and a half changed as weeds were pulled and paths were laid. Old trees either
died or were removed and new ones took their places. One of the first trees
to be planted were Coast Redwoods in a circle. Now we have a beautiful shaded
grove. Some mistakes were made and recently five very large trees had to be
removed because of root problems and disease.
During early years of the garden's
development, I was teaching landscaping and garden/maintenance courses at the
two local community colleges. The garden (such as it was then), became an ideal
classroom where many practical lessons could be learned, from pruning, to plant
identification, and of course landscaping. Many fine ideas were offered by students
and some were even incorporated into my final plans. The class always finished
off the semester with a final exam covering what was learned during their sessions
in the garden and we ended the evening with a potluck dinner that is still talked
about when any old students drops by to have a chat.
One of the first steps I took (because
of frequent request for plants) was to establish myself as a retail nursery
with a license to grow plants for resale. Because I probably spent more time
on the development and maintenance of the garden, rather than the running of
the nursery, I now find, twenty-five years later, I take in just about enough
money to pay the bills generated by the nursery/garden. As miniature roses were
just coming into popularity I often had a supply of miniature roses from Ralph
Moore, our famous California rose hybridizer, on hand to sell to visitors. Tour
groups especially liked them; they were easy to carry on the bus as a sort of
remembrance of their day spent in "John's Rose Garden".
Maintenance was always a big time
consumer as I was then only one to do the necessary chores. Now, as I will be
celebrating my 80th birthday this June, I find it necessary to take on a helper.
I was fortunate to find an alert, young honor student at the local high school
who took me up on an offer to train him as an apprentice in all aspects of landscaping
and garden maintenance, especially rose care. We do not cover sprays as I believe
in a chemical free environment. He and I have a "session" every Saturday morning,
if he is free from his many other commitments, like running of the high school
track team. He usually has a couple of hours of "practical experience" doing
the chores that I find more difficult for me now. He is highly enthusiastic
about the arrangement and has become a member of the American Rose Society and
our nearest chapter society. As I no longer drive out of town, he drives for
me on meeting nights.
When people ask me why I open the
garden, I say that it is because the roses are there; someone besides me might
as well enjoy them. I often tell people that the garden has two purposes: one,
to show the public that there are many types of roses, not just hybrid teas,
and, two, to let them see how these roses can be useful as landscape plants.
There are many examples of roses climbing trees, used as groundcover, as hedges,
low borders, specimen plants, and on about 20 arbors and trellises, all giving
the garden a park like appearance. I have recently taken to emphasizing that
rose growing is really not as difficult as many seem to think. My not spraying,
using hedge shears to rough prune, and installing a drip watering system all
prove the point that I like to make, which is that gardens, especially rose
gardens, should be places of enjoyment, not battlegrounds against nature.
The 1998 "Open Garden" will specifically
begins. . . (date and
event info deleted) Of course
there has never been any fee for enjoying the world's most admired and loved
flower, The Rose, our national flower. I hope many of you rose enthusiasts,
as well as local Rosarians, will find time to drop by at 1020 Mt. George Ave,
Napa, Calif., this year and help me celebrate this double event.
As usual we will be closed on Easter
and Mother's Day for family gatherings.
John Dallas Born: June 9, 1918 ~ Died: February
Page created: AUG 2000 ~ Updated: Saturday, January 4, 2003