Volunteers joined the Lake Superior Rose Society in rocking roses for winter

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The Rose Tipping took place at Leif Erikson Park.

DULUTH, Minn.–In a garden with more than 2,000 roses, questions arise about how so many rose bushes survive the winter. The Lake Superior Rose Society is working vigorously to ensure that the historic Duluth Rose Garden remains in bloom for next spring.

First, the roses are cut and tied with biodegradable rope. Second, a hole is dug right next to the rose bush so that the rose can be buried under about 3 to 6 inches of soil. Finally, the roses are covered with bags of leaves to prevent the plants from freezing.

Lake Superior Rose Society President Margaret Anderson says, “Some years it doesn’t snow very much or it can be very windy, but these bags add an extra layer that the roses can use. There are about 2,000 roses that will be protected this fall.”

Each fall, the Lake Superior Rose Society sheds these roses. And towards the end of April they are sprayed and replanted.

Anderson went on to say, “As soon as they’re high, someone comes in with a hose and washes them. They drink in this way, to stay hydrated as spring approaches”.

But winter weather isn’t the only concern for roses. The I-35 freeway passes under the Rose Garden, making the ground even colder.

Anderson also added: “So we are above the tunnels now, which is an added concern because that cold air is also below them. So we want to make sure these rods don’t freeze or thaw. Instead, we put them in a dormant state, with the soil on top and the bags of leaves. He keeps them at a certain temperature all winter, so when you raise them in the spring you hardly ever lose a rose.”

The rose garden has 22 classifications or types of roses, ranging from 280 different varieties or names. Every year someone from the Rose Society counts the number of roses in each circle, the number in each bed, and tracks the number of each type.

Anderson says, “It’s just amazing how these root systems have become, you know, very deep and extensive. We therefore have our work cut out for us.

Most of the roses that were planted in 1994 are still standing today, proving that if you tip a rose, you can save a rose too.

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