By Emily J. Weitz
“She cast her fragrance and her radiance over me. I ought never to have run away from her… Flowers are so inconsistent! But I was too young to know how to love her…”
~Antoine de St. Exupery, The Little Prince
As the little prince knew too well, to love a rose takes effort, patience, and thought. Even when they have a wild look about them, with their thorns and brambles all tangled across a gate, roses require a great deal of care.
Rick Bogusch, who manages the grounds at Bridge Gardens, has nurtured the rose garden since he started there six years ago. Every winter, he tucks them in to beds of mulch 12 to 18 inches deep, and every spring, he prunes them delicately and watches them come back to life.
The Southampton Rose Society will present a lecture by Mr. Bogusch at Bridge Gardens on Saturday, September 13, from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm. Many of the most striking specimens in the garden, Mr. Bogusch said, will still be in bloom.
The rose garden was installed by the property’s previous owners, Jim and Harry Kilpatrick, and Mr. Bogusch spent his first year at Bridge Gardens learning about the unique demands of these flowers. They were selected for the hardiness and their ability to endure the long winters, but still they need to be attended to. Last winter, which was particularly cold and long, Mr. Bogusch brought one of the rose plants inside and nursed it through the roughest patches, and now it has sprung back.
“Roses are very demanding,” said Mr. Bogusch. “They demand a lot of attention and resources and consistency of care. Time, energy, man hours, money: You really have to be willing to put that into them.”
Along with mulching and pruning, roses need to receive about 2 inches of water every week. Mr. Bogusch also fertilizes them regularly throughout the season to keep them vigorous.
Perhaps it is the effort that they require that makes roses so precious. Throughout history, they have been used in ceremonies and by royalty to mark special occasions. They are prized for their aesthetic value and their pungent fragrance. Mr. Bogusch says the rose garden, even though it is just one of several impressive gardens at Bridge Gardens, is a major draw for people.
“It’s a big attraction,” said Mr. Bogusch, “because everybody loves roses. When people find out there’s a rose garden here, they want to see it.”
The garden itself is round, with brick pathways throughout that separate the beds. The beds are organized by color, so that the rose garden resembles a giant color wheel. One bed spills with red roses. A path separates it from a pink bed, a yellow bed, and so on. There are eight beds in all.
Walking through the rose garden, one is taken not only by the aesthetic beauty, but the pungency of the air.
“Some of the roses in our garden are very fragrant,” said Mr. Bogusch. For example, there’s a white hybrid rose that blooms in the classic form called Pope John Paul II.
“That’s one of the most fragrant roses of all time,” he said.
Mr. Bogusch just planted Pope John Paul II this past spring, and already it is growing vigorously. Another plant, which is original to the garden, is called About Face.
“It’s large and strong and old,” said Mr. Bogusch. “And it’s so beautiful that you do an about-face when you walk by it.”
“You start to see blooms in late May, and June is the first peak,” said Mr. Bogusch. “Then there’s another peak in September.”
This year the roses have bloomed continually, which Mr. Bogusch attributes a temperate summer when the thermometer didn’t climb into the 90s.
“Our garden,” he explained, “has brick, and can get very hot and humid, which roses don’t like.”
Because of the relatively cool summer, this year’s stroll through the rose garden should be particularly rewarding.
To register for the lecture and tour, go to the Rose Society web site at southamptonrose.org or call (631) 740-4732. Bridge Gardens is located at 36 Mitchell Lane in Bridgehampton.