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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow Rose garden survives road's reconstruction

Rose garden survives road's reconstruction

Don Moyers works his rose garden along Dewey Avenue in Baker City. He almost lost the garden due to street reconstruction this summer, but utility workmen figured a way around his flowery patch. (Baker City Herald/S. John Collins).
Don Moyers works his rose garden along Dewey Avenue in Baker City. He almost lost the garden due to street reconstruction this summer, but utility workmen figured a way around his flowery patch. (Baker City Herald/S. John Collins).

By LISA BRITTON

Of the Baker City Herald

Don Moyers, clad in worn overalls and a hunter-orange cap, leans over and gently cups a crimson rose blossom in his hand.

He sniffs at the fragile petals.

"Ah, that smells nice," he says.

As he takes a step to inspect a nearby yellow rose bud, a breeze picks up the pungent sweet scents of the 30 blooming rose bushes that grace Moyer's park strip in front of his house.

Moyers, 73, planted the roses 10 years ago after he moved into his house on Dewey Avenue.

He thought his park strip — an island of ground sandwiched between the sidewalk and the street — needed some improvement.

"It was mostly weeds," he says. "I've always liked roses."

When Baker City began tearing up the street and replacing sidewalks on Dewey this summer, Moyers didn't raise a fuss about his roses' well-being.

But the workers were careful, he says, and worked around his colorful patch of landscaping.

"They really took care of me, they were very careful," he says. "I had to move one rose, and I don't know if it'll live. But it's still green."

He lifts a hand and crosses his fingers.

"Where there's life, there's hope."

Roses are fairly low-maintenance, he says.

"They're drought-resistant and frost-resistant — good to 50 below zero," Moyers says.

"Roses are tougher than hell."

The most care is needed when the bushes are planted.

Most of his roses came as bare-root plants, so he dug a hole, then formed a peak to drape the roots down the side.

"So they're not criss-crossing one another," he says.

Then he fills the hole up with dirt and compacts it with his foot.

"Then you water it very gently and deeply," he says.

The roses should then be watered frequently, "til you see the first, tiny new leaf."

"When you see that leaf, you know it's taken hold," he says.

Then he cuts back on the watering schedule.

"If they look a little droopy, then of course I water them," he says. "Water infrequently and deep. I've got a book in there with those very words."

Though Moyers claims he never reads, he hauls out two battered books, one on lawn care and the other on the technique of bonsai.

The covers are ragged and the pages dog-eared.

A few chapters boast lines of highlighted text.

He flips through to point out the section on watering, though it seems like he's got his system down pat.

"I just water them when I feel like it," he says.

Baker City's climate differs a bit from his previous home, he says. He moved from Lompoc, Calif., located about 50 miles north of Santa Barbara.

Of his roses there, his favorite was a pink variety called Queen Elizabeth.

"She was a dandy. Beautiful damn rose," he says.

Now, as he moves from one colorful rose blossom to the next in his yard, he can't choose a favorite.

He recommends roses as easy — and beautiful — additons to any yard.

"If you don't mind getting stuck once in a while," he smiles.

 
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