Everything's Come Up Roses
If you're not familiar with roses, it can be hard to follow what Sandy Lundberg is saying. For most of us, technical rose jargon might consist of "a dozen long-stems," but Sandy's knowledge of this classic flower goes quite a bit deeper than that. After more than 30 years as a competitive "rosarian," a person who enjoys and cultivates roses, it's obvious she knows what she's talking about. Yet before all the shows, awards, recognition and accreditation, Sandy was just another woman who liked pretty flowers.
"My mother had a few roses in the backyard when I was growing up, and I just thought they were absolutely beautiful," recalls Sandy. Later, when she was living in Virginia, a neighbor grew roses and Sandy got inspired to try it herself. Her husband, Bob, had grown up in an area of New Jersey where the traditional job for kids was to work at one of the many greenhouses that filled the countryside, and soon the couple had developed a strong interest in this hobby. They moved to Montgomery, Alabama, where somebody suggested they show their flowers.
"I said, 'What's a rose show?'" Sandy remembers. "She said, 'Just put 'em in a bucket and take them to Capital Chevrolet and they'll show you what to do.' I won a few blue ribbons and that was it; the hook was in."
As soon as their kids were grown and out of the house, Sandy and Bob began traveling all over the country to compete in rose shows, allowing them to connect with and befriend other growers with whom they continue to keep in touch. They got even more serious about their hobby after coming to South Carolina, which has a very active and talented rose growing community. They are both accredited horticulture judges, as well as master consulting rosarians, and when they list off some of their proudest achievements-including several first queens of the nation, (the highest honor that can be given to a rose) and fourteen National Challenge Classes (which Sandy equates to Olympic gold)-one gets the distinct feeling they're too modest to mention all their awards. Sandy even has a rose named after her, a pale pink miniature called the Sandy Lundberg.
Appropriately enough, the Lundbergs live in Rose Hill, where their backyard garden contains over 450 rose bushes and draws visits from garden clubs and rose growing societies throughout the region. Hybrid teas, floribundas, miniatures, mini-floras, polyanthas and a shrub-it would seem Sandy and Bob have it all. But they're quick to point out that they grow only six out of 50 different classifications. In terms of varieties, a few quick calculations reveal that there are 269 different kinds of roses in their garden, each neatly tagged and labeled.
"I've had so many people tell me you can't grow roses in South Carolina," says Sandy. "There's such a bad rap about roses, but they're really not hard to grow. People shouldn't be afraid to try."