Sweet Surrender, Mirandy, Perfect Moment, and Knock-out

by Krsna Bhava dd

Sweet Surrender,  Mirandy,  Perfect Moment, and  Knock-out series have you heard these names before?  If you have, you must know Betty Hickey the master rosarian at the Palace of Gold, these are her favorite roses.

Betty Hickey will retire this fall from her position as the manager of the Palace Rose Garden. For the past 26 years Betty has cultivated a garden that attracted tourists, qualifies for AARS (All American Rose Selections) accreditation and pleased the devotees.

In 1985 Betty started working on the Palace Rose Garden. In the 20,000 square foot rose garden, Betty and a team of 10 gardeners established  850 plants. There are 100 different varieties of roses which include hybrid teas, grandifloras, floribundas, shrubs, miniatures, and climbers. Half of the roses are AARS winners.

Betty said that in the fall of 1985  Aravinda das, the garden manager,  looked at the blossoming garden, realized its value and then applied for AARS accreditation.  AARS  accreditation is very prestigious and given only to rose gardens that plant the societies selection of roses and meticulously maintain them.  Accredited gardens are awarded  free AARS winner rose plants every year.

In 1987, she became the sole rosarian. Her roses bloom 3x a year, most roses bloom only 2x a year.   Her meticulous care has kept the Palace Gardens accreditation with AARS until the program was discontinued, coincidently it was this year.

Her standard of excellence over the past 26 years has not only been visible in the rose gardens but in all the gardens at the Palace.  When Betty saw the garden crew was down to only 5 part time gardeners,  instead of  planting  the labor intensive annuals as done in previous years, she decided to establish permanent beds with perennials, hedges and  shrubs which were easier to maintain. In the winter, permanent plants  prevented  the beds from being bare.

Although Betty was raised on a farm and grew vegetables she had no previous experience with roses. She learned on the job, through extension services and the Master Gardener program. Now Betty is a member of the Marshal County  Master Gardener Association and is considered an authority on roses.  She is frequently invited to speak publicly on caring for roses.

Last year , 40 members of the Ohio Valley Master Gardeners Association came to the Palace to attend her lectures on rose cultivation.

After retiring she is looking forward to quilting, working with her pumpkin business, and spending more time with her family.  Betty has 3 children and 4 grandchildren. Betty is a member of the Sand Hill Methodist Church.

Reflecting on the roses that she grew Betty said, “ Seeing the plants develop and bloom I feel in touch with God and his creation and I  love and will miss my work at the Palace. We love and will miss her.

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