The old saying “stop and smell the roses,” certainly fits the Antique Rose Emporium to a T. Located in the lovely little town of Brenham, between Houston and Austin, visitors will find eight acres of glorious display gardens, as well as a retail garden center. Charming, restored buildings from the mid-1800s settlers homestead are surrounded by inviting paths that lead plant lovers amid gardens of antique roses, Texas native plants, herbs, cottage gardens, and wildflowers.
As the name implies the Antique Rose Emporium specializes in
Old-fashioned roses. “I swore when I got my degree in horticulture, I’d never have anything to do with roses,” says owner Mike Shoup. Shoup has long since changed his opinion as far as old fashioned or antique roses are concerned. “Antique roses have wonderful fragrance, are very disease and pest resistant, and are very diverse in their form. They can be used with so many other plants,” says Shoup.
Popular in the gardens of Texas settlers from the early 1800s, these old rose varieties, unlike more modern varieties, could thrive with no pampering. As homesteads were abandoned so were the gardens and flowerbeds that went with them. Slipping into obscurity, many old rose varieties continued to grow happily on their own amid the rubble of deserted homesteads.
In the early 1980s Shoup’s focus turned away from overused nursery stock for landscaping and towards hardy, unique Texas native plants. In his quest for native plants Shoup was surprised to discover many old-fashioned roses, left to fend for themselves amid an inhospitable landscape, had gone wild. What surprised him even more was many of these abandoned roses were thriving beautifully without the help of any green thumbed gardener.
Among Shoup’s other discoveries was a group of like-minded old rose enthusiasts, the “Texas Rose Rustlers.” Shoup joined the rose rustlers whose mission was to collect, or “rustle,” cuttings, and propagate these wild roses to prevent them from being lost forever and to reintroduce them to today’s gardeners.
According to Shoup interest in these hardy, carefree roses is growing now more than ever. He says the key to appreciating antique roses is not to grow them like roses but grow them like you would landscape shrubs. The emporium is a great place to get gardening tips and ideas, ask questions and see for yourself all the beautiful ways to use the wonderful native plants of Texas.
The Antique Rose Emporium is located at: 10,000 FM 50, in Brenham,
Ph. # 979-836-5548, mail order toll free 800-441-0002, or visit: www.antiqueroseemporium.com for more info. Hours are 9-6 on Saturday and 11-6 on Sunday. The emporium is open year-round, seven days a week.