Roses in Southern Utah

by Joel Deceuster

Passions come in all types and sizes. Mine just happens to come in the form of roses. I’ve managed to plant over 170 rose bushes (and I’m not done yet) in my St. George garden. All have been lovingly selected to compliment the colors and feel of the southwestern sunset.

Surrounding my adobe home, they bloom twice a year — in the spring two weeks prior to and following Mother’s Day, and during the entire month of October, our second spring here in St. George. My neighbors anxiously await both of the big blooms that welcome them to their Tonaquint Terrace neighborhood.

Planting and caring for my roses is my form of therapy, which never fails to solve my problems. There’s something about digging in the dirt and planting living things that just seems to do it for me. Any real gardener will attest to the therapeutic effect that cultivating a garden can produce.

I’m a big believer that once our families and careers have grown and gone, we still need something to watch over and nourish. We need a passion to keep us stimulated and productive. For my wife, it’s our 19 grandchildren — 10 of whom live near us in St. George). For me, it’s the thousands of rose buds I produce every year as a gift to all those who wander by.

I admit that pruning, planting, and pampering 170 rose bushes, not to mention the myriad of perennial flowers that compliment them, is a lot of work. But it keeps me sane. And it keeps me outside enjoying the sunshine and fresh air. It stretches me and keeps me limber when I bend over and get down on my hands and knees to fertilize and groom the plants. It’s also a great strength-training program when I’m hefting those 50-pound bags of fertilizer from Star Nursery or unloading and spreading two tons of the world’s best compost from the St. George Refuse Center off Brigham Road. It’s a workout for sure. Yet, at the same time, it’s a highly meditative experience when early in the stillness of each Sunday morning I gently water and bathe each bush.

At 65, with the right help from my trainers at Dixie Regional Medical Center’s Live Well Center, I believe I can keep it up for at least another 10 or 20 years. And if I can get those grandkids of mine to do the heavy lifting, I might be able to go on indefinitely. I certainly have the passion for it, and that makes all the difference.

Joel Deceuster and his wife Madeline moved to St. George in 2012 from San Jose, California. His California home was surrounded by over 250 rose bushes. Joel enjoyed his career as a marketing executive in the fast-paced world of the Silicon Valley. He currently works full-time for the Intermountain Live Well Center – St. George. Joel is a member of the American Rose Society, and has won several awards for his roses. If you’d like to drive by and view the garden, his address is 2352 South 1060 West in St. George. You’ll find him in his garden every Saturday. Be careful to stay on the sidewalk, and please do not step into the garden. If you’re interested in roses and want to connect with Joel you can contact him at: UtahRoseMaster@gmail.com

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