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Rose Garden

Roses without Chemicals at Vanderbilt Museum
By Gail Berti
Posted: 2023-12-05T19:58:39Z

This article was reprinted by permission from CAR Review November 2023

The Vanderbilt Museum in Centerport, New York, is a distinctive fusion of a mansion, marine, and natural history museum situated on Long Island's north shore. This historic estate once served as the summer residence of William K. Vanderbilt, the great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt, and is proudly listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Centerport Garden Club, which is part of the Second District, FGCNYS, is entrusted with the care of its historic Rose Garden.

Nancy & LindaIn April 2020, two new members, Linda Pitra and Nancy Schwartz, assumed leadership of the Rose Garden Committee. Initially, they anticipated tasks like deadheading, weeding, mulching, and fertilizing. However, they soon discovered the need to undertake a more extensive project—removing all the roses, replacing the top six inches of soil, and redesigning the entire rose garden. What is Rose Rosette Disease? It is a disease that specifically affects roses and is caused by mites. Rose Rosette Disease (RRD) has spread throughout much of the United States and, unfortunately, is incurable. Infected plants must be promptly removed and destroyed to prevent the virus from spreading to healthy roses. Identifying the disease can be challenging. The earliest signs include a red pigmentation of the underside of leaf veins, followed by the abnormal growth of red shoots known as "witches' broom." Upon discovering the impact of Rose Rosette Disease, the Centerport Garden Club, in collaboration with the museum's leadership and staff, rose to the challenge.

groupWith 8 to 15 members dedicating over an hour every other Thursday, they made remarkable progress in addressing the issue. Naturally, this undertaking involved a significant amount of work and investigation. Soil had to be excavated, replaced, and tested for pH levels. Linda and Nancy sought guidance from the local Cornell Cooperative Extension and had to wait for two seasons, as required, to eliminate the rose rosette mites. The Centerport Garden Club's objective is to maintain a chemical-free garden, and they rely on recommendations from the Cornell organic rose test garden and the book "ROSES WITHOUT CHEMICALS" by Peter E. Kukielshi for selecting roses. This book offers photos and descriptions of 150 disease-resistant rose varieties.

Summarizing the major accomplishments of the Centerport Garden Club: • Restoration of the historic fountain • Installation of a custom arbor and six trellises • Soil pH testing and amendment to meet the needs of roses • Planting 53 disease-resistant roses, eight boxwoods, two Japanese maples, and numerous complementary perennials • Acquisition and planting of 25 hydrangeas through donations • Installation of a drip irrigation system • Procurement of nameplates for identifying roses Photos by Marisa Comple On a splendid day, June 19th, 2023, the Vanderbilt Rose Garden was joyfully rededicated, marking the successful rejuvenation of this historic garden.

Gail Berti - Arboretums Chairman