Jo Ann Ostrander, a master gardener and certified rosarian, tends an extensive garden full of rose bushes.A retired educator, Ostrander, 75, was born in Lincoln County but moved to Florida for a teaching position after graduation from Lenoir-Rhyne University. “I grew roses and African violets on a rather small scale while I lived in Florida,” Ostrander said. “When my husband, Jerry, and I returned to Maiden in Lincoln County in 1995, we bought a heavily wooded 10-acre parcel of land on which to build our home. I guess that’s when I began to become more serious about growing roses.”While Jerry devoted his time to his woodturning hobby, Jo Ann, whose lifelong hobby was gardening, began developing what would become an extensive, multi-faceted garden on the 3 acres they cleared for their homestead.“My initial goal was to have about 50 rose bushes,” said Ostrander, “but I now have about 120, representing over a dozen varieties. My roses are scattered all over our landscape. I’m in the garden several hours on a typical day if I don’t have other things to do.”Her hobby became something more akin to a passion when she took the master gardener course in Lincoln County and was certified in 1998. That same year, she joined the Cleveland/Lincoln County Rose Society and the American Rose Society. In 2005, she became one of just eight Consulting Rosarians in the Cleveland/Lincoln County Rose Society.She has written a monthly column, “This Month in Your Rose Garden,” for the society’s newsletter since 2006, reminding members of what needs to be done in the garden the following month.“Spring is the busiest time of the year. I clear away the old mulch, prune and fertilize the roses, spray for bugs, and then mulch again. My greatest frustration is dealing with spider mites. I have to spray every two weeks to control them, and it’s very frustrating.”“I also have a greenhouse I use for rooting new roses, grafting and starting my annuals and perennials from seed,” she said. “I am always striving to create better roses. A rose has to be exceptionally beautiful or fragrant, and I try for both.”Ostrander’s goals are for the rose to hold well after cutting and she checks the rating in the American Rose Society Handbook for Selecting Roses. “I consider the size it grows, whether it will fit in my garden, and how well it shows in competition.“My greatest pleasure in growing roses is the beauty in my garden and being able to give them away,” she adds. “I’ve taken my roses to folks in the hospital and to nursing homes. I also provide a flower arrangement for our church, First Wesleyan in Lincolnton, every Sunday throughout the growing season.”To become a consulting rosarian, growers have to have experience with the plants and be a member of the local rose society and the American Rose Society. “We take classes in rose culture and generally learn from each other,” she said.A consulting rosarian can offer classes, as Ostrander recently did at the Florence Shanklin Library in Denver. “We make ourselves available to answer questions for interested folks who are growing their own roses. We will go to a garden, if we’re asked, and we never charge for our services.”Ostrander also enjoys judging the entries in the annual rose show at the Cleveland Mall. This September will be the 40th annual Rose Show, where there are thousands of varieties of roses and 45 classifications for judging. Ostrander is in charge of judging in the fragrance classification.“And don’t forget to mention that when it comes to judging roses, men are more competitive than women.”Does Ostrander have some favorites from among those in her garden? “It was hard to choose my favorites because they are all there for some reason, but since you asked. ...“My hybrid tea favorites are Brides Dream, Fragrant Blessing, Just Joey, Let Freedom Ring, Louise Estes, Mr. Caleb and Randy Scott. English Shrub favorites are Golden Zest, The Squire and Fisherman’s Friend.“My Floribunda favorite is Ice Berg. and my favorite climber is Fourth of July.”
Friday, Jul. 12, 2013
Catawba County gardener’s life is a bed of roses
Learn more: Jo Ann Ostrander is available to answer questions at 828-428-3508 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bruce Dunbridge is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Bruce? Email him at email@example.com.
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