New Vrindaban Hosts Rose Pruning Workshop at Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold Rose Garden

Prabhupada’s Palace Rose Garden Springtime Pruning Workshop

By Lilasuka dasi

“I’m really happy to have all these people out here helping us prune Prabhupada’s Palace Roses at this workshop. It’s a big job!” smiles Gopalasyapriya dasi, who has been heading up the Palace Rose Garden crew for about 13 years.

Prabhupada Palace of Gold New Vrindaban ISKCON Rose Garden

The Pruning Crew

Prabhupada Palace of Gold New Vrindaban ISKCON Rose Garden

Hard at Work

Her steady, regular garden workers Purnima dasi, Mukunda dasi, and Srimati dasi are with her at the workshop Sat. April 11 to Monday April 13, 2015 at Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold Rose Garden. They were joined by Jeanette, who often works at the Palace Lodge, as well as by three experienced gardeners from the local “Ohio County Master Gardeners” group, including their president, who all came to increase their knowledge of rose pruning and planting, while simultaneously helping the Palace crew.

Paul Zimmerman, the expert rosarian giving the workshop, explains, “This transformation of the Palace Rose Garden from regular chemical usage to a totally sustainable organic rose garden is a two to three year process. They got a great start last year, 2014, following two main steps that I recommended.” Paul’s website is Paul Zimmerman roses

First, Paul had told them to evaluate the roses, keeping careful written scores of each rose group. High points went to the roses that prospered well without their previous chemicals, while low points went to roses which had trouble on the new organic program. He wanted to find out which types of roses would do best with organic gardening.

The second step was to change their usual pruning time. For years, Gopa and her crew have been pruning back the Palace roses in the fall and piling mulch over them to protect them for the winter.

Prabhupada Palace of Gold New Vrindaban ISKCON Rose Garden

A Teaching Moment

Prabhupada Palace of Gold New Vrindaban ISKCON Rose Garden

Gopa is on the left and Paul has long gloves and wide brim gray hat.

“Last year I suggested they try letting them go for the winter and then pruning them back in the spring time instead, like I do on most of my organic, sustainable rose gardens back home,” explains Paul.

That’s why Paul came to the Palace this sunny weekend in April– to see how the new method is working out.

“Roses are like people. They’re all different. We can see by this rose garden that you had a very rough winter! Down in North and South Carolina the spring pruning works great! But your rose garden had special challenges. It’s evident that this particular method of spring pruning may not work with Prabhupada’s Palace roses. But that’s alright. It was a starting point and now we’ll simply adjust the methods to suit Prabhupada’s roses. The harsh snowy and icy conditions of the 2015 WV winter, combined with the winds up here behind Prabhupada’s Palace, what to speak of the constant thawing and freezing that I’ve heard about is forcing us to make the decision to go back to the method of pruning back and mulching in the fall. It will work fine.” Paul asserts.

Prabhupada Palace of Gold New Vrindaban ISKCON Rose Garden

Hardy new roses lined up for planting.

Prabhupada Palace of Gold New Vrindaban ISKCON Rose Garden

Gopa & one of her good helpers, Mukunda.

This second year of the transformation to organic, 2015, is the year to remove the rose plants which got low scores on last year’s evaluation, because these plants just don’t do well with this sustainable program. They will be replaced with hardier plants.  He points out the new rose plants lined up, waiting to be planted during the weekend workshop.

Gopa tells us, “We also have to group all the like roses that are scattered around the garden, digging them up if necessary in order to put them with their matching groups for a more harmonious look.”

As a result of the careful evaluation process they did in 2014, Gopa and her crew found that there were 10 varieties out of the total approximately 55 varieties of roses that did not do well under these organic conditions. So these 10 varieties will be removed from the garden and 150 new, more sustainable plants will be planted as replacements. There are about 800 rose plants altogether at the Palace. Many of the variety of plants around the Palace are started at the Palace greenhouse.

Prabhupada Palace of Gold New Vrindaban ISKCON Rose Garden

Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold greenhouse.

When asked how the workshop is going, Paul smiles. “It’s going great! The sun is out. The gardeners who are here from Wheeling are learning a lot, and the Palace of Gold roses are benefitting from their work. I think the Palace Rose Garden will continue to get better and better.”


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