Monday, January 1, 2018

Taking Stock - January 2018

Happy New Year’s! While it has been several years since I did a blog posting, you will find regular updates in the months and years ahead. I retired from teaching and staff training in the Ithaca City School District at the end of June 2017 after 32 years. I started in this field almost 42 years ago in the Bronx. How the years flew by.

So, what have I been up to the past few years?

I became a Consulting Rosarian with the American Rose Society.

I volunteered with the Syracuse Rose Society helping them maintain the E.M. Mills Rose Garden

I worked with Master Gardeners from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County in maintaining their rose collection at the Cutler Garden in Binghamton. (

I worked at Cornell University overseeing the zone 5 trials of over 60 varieties of David Austin English Roses.

I donated vintage climbers and spent time consulting, planting and  helping out at the Elizabeth Park Rose Garden.

I also spent lots of time thinking about Der Rosenmeister Nursery. It began in 2003 when we purchased a 3 acre hayfield on a south east slope in the Inlet Valley in the town of Ithaca in NY state. The soil was good, and the views were spectacular. Once our home was built and the basic infrastructure was in place each year brought a new project. Now, the views are complemented by spectacular gardens, arbors, brick and stone terraces and stairs, paths to explore, bridges across the creek and places to sit and take it all in.  I’m not sure how I did this while teaching full time.

Through the past 14 years, I grew about 400 different varieties of roses. It’s been an eye opening, educational experience trialling roses with a focus on cold hardiness, disease resistance, vigor and beauty. Most of the roses in our collection now are climbers and ramblers and shrubs. They include roses from the early 1800s to the latest releases in 2018.

Our mission remains the same- provide the best roses for zone 4 and 5 gardens, and the knowledge and skills to grow them. We are intent on sharing our passion for roses. But our core values of sustainability and plant conservation are clearer and guide what we do every day.

“Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. To pursue sustainability is to create and maintain the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony to support present and future generations.”
US Environmental Protection Agency

Plant Conservation
“...a broad group of activities which aim to prevent plants from becoming extinct. It includes the direct conservation of wild populations, collections of plants with gardens, education programmes, invasive species control, recovery and restoration work, research programs, training…”  Botanic Gardens Conservation International

You will hear more about our values and work in the months to come, along with lots of pictures of roses and the gardens. Look for us on our blog, on Facebook as Der Rosenmeister Nursery and on Instagram as leonginenthal. If you have any questions, suggestions or comments, contact us at You can also email me at or message me through Facebook

Our list of roses available this year will be on the website by the end of January.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Having Fun Getting Ready for High Rose Tide

From mid April through 4th of July, I spend every available daylight hour working outside to make the gardens here at Der Rosenmeister as beautiful as possible. Guess I was out in the sun too long when my friend, Alex Solla, of Alex Solla Photography took this pic. His daughter was helping edge the bed of roses along the driveway. When I saw this strip of sod, I couldn't resist! I was reminded of wearing a tallis for my bar mitzvah back in 1967.

This spring I bought a new garden tractor. It has 4 wheel drive, a 60 inch mowing deck, and a 27 horse power engine. Mowing goes so much faster now. And I can haul things all over the three acres that make up our home landscape.

Aurora Solla has been a great help to me over the past few years. She is not only is she a hard worker, but a  great conversationalist and oh so smart. The days go quickly when we are working together here.

I promise to be all cleaned up when you come here Friday for our open house!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Less Than a Week Until Our Open House

Tenth Annual Open House 
Friday, June 14th, 4-7 PM 
Der Rosenmeister Nursery
190 Seven Mile Drive

Here is just a taste of what you will find here on Friday.

This is a shot of Rosa eglanteria, the Sweetbriar rose, often found in hedgerows in rural England. It is known for these sweet, single blossoms, apple scented foliage and bright red rose hips that persist into the winter.

'Lillian Gibson' is a vigorous shrub/rambler developed by Dr. Niels Hansen in 1938. It is a fountain of blossoms right now. In the winter the red stems glow against the snow. She is hardy to zone 3!

'Dreaming Spires' is a large flowered climber bred by Mattock in the UK in 1973. It has a strong fragrance and an enchanting color. This rose refers to the city of Oxford.

'Scharlachglut,' ('Scarlet Glow'), shares its brilliance with me twice a year- first with its scarlet blooms in June and then in the fall and winter with its scarlet red rose hips. It was developed in Germany by Wilhelm Kordes in 1952. Staggering in size and color, an essential rose.

This year, we are specializing in climbers and ramblers. To make space for our expanded collection of this class of rose, I removed beds of established gallicas and albas and built the arbors you see above. Each post will have a climber or rambler planted alongside it. 

Here is the view as you approach the brick terrace. There are seats on the terrace under the pink wisteria in the shade. A lovely spot to sit in the afternoon. The terrace is surrounded by a newly built rose arbor. 

Here's the view from the terrace looking down towards the lower parking area. You will walk alternately through arches and tunnels of roses and then across short stretches of open lawn. Within two years, each pair of posts and cross piece will be cloaked in fragrant roses.

'Rosarium Uetersen' is one of the most floriferous roses in our gardens. Each salmon pink blossom is made up of almost 150 petals! This blooming machine has shiny, immaculate foliage. It can be grown as a climber or pruned to  be a specimen shrub or create and impenetrable flowering hedge.

We hope to see you Friday!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

10th Anniversary Open House at Der Rosenmeister

High Rose Tide at Der Rosenmeister
10th Anniversary Open House

Friday, June 14th, 2013

Light refreshments
Music by Cookie Coogan, vocals and keyboard

Come see and smell hundreds of fragrant, cold hardy, disease resistant climbing and rambling roses.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Training and Pruning Ramblers

Last week, when the weather was warmer, I decided to tackle training and pruning a rambling rose, Ceske Praci Cest. This rose was hybridized by Ludvik Vecera in 1970, in the former country of Czechoslovakia. The name translates as “Honour to Czech Labor,” a common greeting in that country during Communist rule. It is similar to ramblers of the Turner’s Crimson Rambler type that was introduced in 1890. Rambling roses like that have not been introduced to the trade since the early 1920s.

Ceske Praci Cest blooms once a year in June and has clusters of small, very full, deep pink flowers. Some sources say it grows to eight feet. My plant has grown to at least twice that within two years of planting a 6-8” own root plant. It has large prickles which you will see in the photos below. I try to wear gloves when working with my roses, but often find they are too cumbersome. People commented on my hands for a week after pruning this rose. Those who don’t know me asked, “Had you gotten scratched by a cat?” Close friends knew that I was back outside working in my nursery and display gardens.

The first step in pruning and training a rambler is to cut off last years flowering laterals.  They are the side shoots that bore flowers last year. They will not produce more flowers or vegetative growth. (See next three images) You will notice I am using a pair of bonsai concave pruners. They allow me to get a nice close cut and were handy when I was heading outside. See one of the previous postings on tools that I've found helpful if you want more information about this.

Ramblers also produce flowers on the ends of their canes. These need to be removed as well. (See next three images)

There will be pressure treated 4x4 posts set along the edge of the terrace soon. This rose and others will be trained up those posts. I set a piece of 5/8” rebar close to the crown of the rose to support the rose and keep it out of the way until the posts are set. 

Here is a close up of a cane before the flowering laterals are shortened.

And now, after shortening.

Starting at ground level, canes are carefully untangled and wound around the rebar and canes that were previously positioned. It doesn’t matter if they are wound clockwise or counter clockwise or if some are done in one direction and others in the opposite direction. I determine which way to wind them based on which feels easiest and goes with the direction the rose is growing.

Canes are wound rather than just tied vertically to increase future production of flowering laterals. Ramblers, as compared with large flowered climbers, have thinner more flexible canes. That make this part of the job easier.

 As they are wound in place, they are tied loosely. I typically use baling twine. This time, I used baling twine that was left over from bales of straw I spread on our vegetable garden last summer. Nothing goes to waste around here.

This is a slow process, one cane at a time, untangling, pruning, winding and tying in place. 

Now that all the canes are tied in place, you will notice a couple of canes that are much longer than the rebar. They will be trained on 2x6 cross pieces connecting the 4x4 posts. Each year, more canes will join them.

Throughout the process, I was supervised by one of our cats, Romeo. He was a feral cat who took up residence in our hoop house  several winters ago. My wife, Renate, the katzenmutter, fed him and tamed him. He is the most affectionate of our three cats.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask. It’s going to be a glorious June. I can’t wait. Can you?