The term roses are red only applies to a fraction of what you'll see at Mingus Rose and Azalea Nursery south of Athens.
William Mingus has been raising roses, seriously, for about 10 years, combining a lot of work with a growing depth of knowledge to bring up scores of species varying in color and size.
“I've always liked flowers,” Mingus said. “I've always grown azaleas, but wasn't too good with roses. I decided I was going to teach myself to grow them, one way or another.”
Mingus said he's pretty much self-taught when it comes to raising roses.
“I don't have a lot of formal education on it,” Mingus said. “I learned the hard way.”
Mingus said he started out by wanting to have a pretty garden and sell roses on the side. That's pretty much his attitude today. The garden area at the nursery is more than four acres. Customers, or anyone who wants to drink in the beauty can come and stroll across the bridges, past the ponds and see the buds and blooms.
“We like showing it off,” Mingus said. “This isn't all of it. What you see here is actually about a fourth of it.”
“We've got quality roses. It's not your dime store roses,” Mingus said. “We give everybody a card here and teach them how to grow a rose. Most people don't know how.”
Mingus said he teaches people to plant the roses in pots, in the ground. For roses, a big pot yields the best results.
“We sell roses in three-and four-gallon pots, because they can develop the root system they can't in a gallon or gallon-and-a-half pot. You cut an X in the bottom of the pot and that makes a reservoir,” Mingus said. “The roots are not going to grow until the fall, anyway.”
Rose plants without an established root system will quickly die.
Mingus compared raising roses to raising a baby.
“You don't want to throw a baby out in the yard,” Mingus said. “That's why they call them nurseries. Our job as parents is to toughen them up a little and get them ready for life. Well, our job is to toughen them up and get them ready for life. Growing roses is no different.”
Most of his roses weren't in full bloom on April 8, but there were thousands of petals already there to see, in shades of red, orange, plum, pink and an array of color combinations.
“What we've done is put out different types of rose beds,” Mingus said. “We put them in the ground and show people the setting. You can sell a rose in a pot, but they don't get any idea of the size of the bush and how it's going to look in a natural setting.”
Summer can be a tough time in the rose garden. Mingus said they can spend eight or more hours a day making sure the flowers are watered. His wife, Jessica, and the children pitch in to help keep the flowers alive and looking their best.
Eight-year-old Gracie was in the garden on April 8. The Mingus children range up to age 14.
“She knows how to talk to customers, sell them and tell them what type of roses we've got.”
Mingus said there are different roses for different uses. Some species produce a beautiful bush, but the rose is not as spectacular as others. Others aren't much to look at while they're not in bloom, but are breathtaking when covered in flowers.
A walk through the garden will introduce you to a big yellow rose called the Julia Child, a red rose with a splash of yellow called Ketchup and Mustard and one named the Fourth of July that looks kind of like a fireworks show.
Mingus said he'd like to see the City of Athens have a rose festival and azalea trail each year. It works for Tyler, and Athens has its own share of beautiful plant life.
“We've got the natural soil and everything it takes to do it,” Mingus said.
To get to Mingus' nursery, head south on State Highway 19 to the turnoff to Coon Creek. The nursery is on the right side of the highway.
From the pages of the Spring HC Magazine. View the flip book at http://joom.ag/XjLQ