1998 Open Garden news release

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It's Time for A Celebration

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 close 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 27, 2000


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