Earth-Kind Roses topic of symposium

September 24, 2009

by Mary Janak,
Victoria County Master Gardener

edited by Charla Borchers Leon,
Victoria County Master Gardener
Souvenir de St. Anne's, one of the roses tested in the Victoria County Master Gardener Rose Research Test Garden, has recently been designated as one of this year's Earth-Kind Roses. Its delicate, light pink blossoms have a spicy aroma, and appear in abundance throughout the year
Rose lovers and gardeners in general, who have been tempted to throw in the trowel because of time limitations, will have the opportunity to hear a team of experts explain how Earth-Kind gardening methods and proven cultivars can help the time-strapped gardeners of today spend a minimum amount of time on their plants, remain environmentally responsible, and still be successful in their growing endeavors.

Earth-Kind Goals and Objective

Saving time is just one of the ways gardeners can benefit from the Earth-Kind program which has primary goals to reduce landscape water usage, reduce landscape fertilizer and pesticide use, reduce wastes entering landfills and landscape for energy conservation.

Calling itself an environmental stewardship program, the Earth-Kind objective is "to combine the best of organic and traditional gardening and landscaping principles to create a horticultural system based on real world effectiveness and environmental responsibility."

Roses are awarded the distinctive Earth-Kind designation only when they have proven to meet high levels of landscape performance and outstanding disease and insect tolerance after rigorous statewide testing. In this program you will learn how to select plants and utilize Earth-Kind gardening practices to maximize your gardening success.

Symposium Set for Oct. 17

An all-day Earth-Kind Rose Symposium, coordinated by the Victoria County Master Gardener Association and the Texas AgriLife Extension Service - Victoria County, will be from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 17, at the Victoria County 4-H Activity Center, 259 Bachelor Drive, located across from the Victoria Regional Airport control tower.

Local nurseries, which are helping sponsor the event, will be on site to display their wares and provide attendees the opportunity to obtain recommended cultivars and soil amendments. These sponsors include EarthWorks, Northside Ranch Pet and Garden Center, Renken's Nursery, Wal-Mart SuperCenter, and Texas Backyard at H-E-B Plus.

Gardening System of the 21st Century

In an article in American Rose, the bi-monthly magazine published by the American Rose Society, Gaye Hammond, past president of the Houston Rose Society, called the Earth-Kind Rose Program "probably the most significant development in rose horticulture since the creation of the modern rose."

She further describes the Earth-Kind Program as "the horticultural gardening system of the 21st Century."

To date, only 21 roses have received the prestigious Earth-Kind designation of hundreds which have been tested. The most recent additions include La Marne, Reve d'Or, Cecile Brunner, Souvenir de St. Anne's, and New Dawn.

Others that have been awarded this designation are Belinda's dream, Caldwell pink, Ducher, Duchesse de Brabant, Else Poulsen, Georgetown tea, carefree beauty, knockout, Marie Daly, Mutabilis, Perle d'Or, climbing pinkie, sea foam, spice, the fairy, and Madame Antoine Mari.

These tough, but beautiful roses and some tough but beautiful companion plants will be topics of discussion at the upcoming symposium.

Symposium Speakers

Hammond, who was skeptical of the Earth-Kind Rose program when she first heard of it, now travels throughout Texas and other states promoting Earth-Kind, and she even sponsors an Earth-Kind rose research test site in soil she describes as "blow sand" at her home near Navasota.

She is one of a team of speakers, who will be in Victoria to discuss the attributes of the Earth-Kind system, which is not limited just to roses.

Other speakers include Steve George, Texas AgriLife Extension Service landscape horticulturist of Dallas, who created the trademarked Earth-Kind Environmental Landscape Management System; Steve Chaney, a horticulture agent with Texas AgriLife Extension Service in Fort Worth; and Shari Koch, horticulture agent with Texas AgriLife Extension Service in Rosenberg.

Included in Symposium Admission

The Earth-Kind Rose Symposium offers a full agenda of more than six hours of groundbreaking topics. The program is worth six hours of credit for accredited Texas Master Gardeners and three hours of credit for Texas Department of Agriculture pesticide license holders.

Of course, anyone can garner the information from the six plus hours of topics without applying for the credits.

Additionally, attendees to the event will be treated to a box lunch, snacks during morning and afternoon breaks, an Earth-Kind handbook, a two gallon experimental Earth-Kind rose of your own, and a guided tour of the Victoria County Master Gardener Earth-Kind Rose Research Study Garden and the award-winning Victoria Educational Gardens - all included in the admission cost.

Registration forms are available at or by going by one of the sponsors, or the Texas AgriLife Extension Service - Victoria County office, 442 Foster Field Drive at Victoria Regional Airport. Checks in the amount of $65 should be made payable to Victoria County Master Gardener Association and mailed to P.O. Box 1723, Victoria, Texas 77902.

Seating is limited, so all reservations must be prepaid and received by the Oct. 1, deadline. Should seats remain after the Oct. 1, deadline, a late registration fee of $75 per person will be accepted, and seats will be assigned in the order the registration payments are received with Oct. 9 as the final deadline.

Registration is $65 to be postmarked by October 9, or delivered to the Extension Office at 442 Foster Field Drive, at Victoria Regional Airport, by noon on Monday, October 12.

After attending this symposium you'll be able to create a beautiful landscape with roses, decrease supplemental watering by up to 70 percent, minimize use of pesticides significantly and grow beautiful roses with abundant blooms in a variety of soil types by utilizing Earth-Kind gardening techniques.
The Gardeners' Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas AgriLife Extension - Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or, or comment on this column at