A Cape Cod Rose Grower's Secrets

Take a stroll through this master gardener's rose garden on Cape Cod and get insider tips on growing beautiful roses.

Queen Nefertiti

Queen Nefertiti

'Queen Nefertiti' roses greet visitors as they arrive at the gardens located at this historic home.

Photo by: Image courtesy of Cindy Ehrenreich

Image courtesy of Cindy Ehrenreich

'Queen Nefertiti' roses greet visitors as they arrive at the gardens located at this historic home.

Irwin and Cindy Ehrenreich are passionate about roses. In fact, to pay a visit to their home and gardens is nothing short of inspiring. Nestled on a bend on Cape Cod's historic Route 6A is a beautiful homestead that the couple has lovingly returned to its glory since it was first built in the 1600s. Just as lovely as the inside of the house are their outside gardens comprised almost entirely of roses. These gardens contain over 600 different varieties. As you wander the grass paths, your senses are filled with color, fragrance and fascination with so many different varieties of roses. However it wasn't always this way.

The Ehrenreich's journey started eighteen years ago when the couple had an unexpected catastrophic event that forced them down a different occupational path. Little did they know that their new path was paved with roses. It first started with miniature roses and over time has bloomed into a full-time consultation business. Over the past eighteen years, the Ehrenreichs have immersed themselves in learning all that they can about roses. Irwin even worked at a local garden center for years on the Cape. His expertise was roses. During this time, he was given the nickname, The Rose Man. That nickname is still with him today. When the Ehrenreichs are not tending to others' rose gardens or their own, they attend rose shows, seek out new varieties, and also lecture at numerous venues around New England.

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  • Though roses can be a bit intimidating for many gardeners, I was lucky enough to learn some rose keeping basics as well as some of The Rose Man's secrets.
  • When designing a rose garden, roses appreciate being planted in a spot with good morning sun, at least six hours.
  • Once a garden location has been settled upon, then it is important to determine the amount of planting space available. When selecting roses be sure to base their spacing on their mature size.
  • For standard sized roses begin by digging a hole at least two feet wide and at least sixteen inches deep. Remove the soil from the hole and place it into a wheelbarrow. To that soil add two cups of composted manure, two shovels of peat moss, one cup of granular lime, one cup of super phosphate, and two cups of organic rose fertilizer. When you are ready to plant the rose, if your rose is grafted, be sure to bury the bud union at least two inches below the soil. Return your soil mixture back to gradually fill in the hole. Push the soil into place with your fingers, water and then add more soil as needed. With the remaining soil, create a watering well around the base of the rose plant. Then cover with your choice of mulch.
  • For the next week water your newly planted roses each day then move onto weekly waterings.
  • Watering in the morning is always best.
  • During their growing season, the roses should be fed monthly and deadheaded on a weekly basis for repeat blooms. It is also important to inspect your roses weekly for signs of disease and pest infestations. There are both organic and traditional products to treat issues that arise.
  • In the northeast the growing season is April through September. Once October arrives, it is no longer necessary to deadhead the roses. Instead allow the rose hips to form, as this will transition the plant to winter dormancy.
  • To winterize your roses mound mulch around the base of the rose plant approximately twelve inches high. 
  • Pruning should be reserved for the spring, when the forsythias bloom.
  • Now take a peek at the photo gallery and captions below for inspiration from The Rose Man's gardens.
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