Maintaining the FTCC Rose Garden

By: Jaclyn Shambaugh

Photos by Brad Losh

The sweet smell of success begins with careful attention in the Fayetteville Rose Garden 

Marvin Lackman, leader of the Fayetteville Rose Society, has a reminder as the calendar flips into the heart of rose-blooming season.  

“Roses are meant to be shared,” Lackman says. 

There’s no better place for the local community to enjoy the splendor of roses in bloom than the Fayetteville Rose Garden, located on the campus of Fayetteville Technical Community College. 

The garden boasts nearly 1,000 rose bushes, including some remaining from when it was developed in the 1970s. 

Lackman calls the garden’s 1971 groundbreaking a tri-organizational effort between the then-named Fayetteville Technical Institute, the city of Fayetteville and the society, which had been granted its charter in 1967. 

Fayetteville Tech provided the site and soil preparation, while the society provided the roses, some 240 plants laid out in a pattern designed by Augusta Knight. 

The society purchases new plants each year, based on the needs of the garden, and Lackman says the group tries to offer something for everyone —  from the casual observer to the discerning rose enthusiast — among the garden’s three dozen rose varieties. 

“Some people like fragrant roses, some people like colorful roses, some people like both,” he says. “And we try to ensure that we’ve got a variety in there for them.” 

Ashley Reid, an FTCC grounds technician, has been the garden’s caretaker for seven years and works daily with occasional help from society members to keep the garden healthy.   

“Each rose is different,” Reid says. When you work with them, you learn which ones hold the bloom longer, which ones need more attention, which ones have disease issues.” 

Reid suggests home rosarians start cutting back their roses in late February or early March, but given the garden’s size, Reid begins the first big cutback of the year in January. 

“And when I say cut them back, I’m talking 18 to 24 inches from the ground,” she said. “That’s going to help them flesh out in the spring. That’s why I think the first bloom is the prettiest.” 

Reid said the garden’s first bloom of 2020 came a bit earlier than the typical year, arriving in mid-April following a warm winter. 

“It has been beautiful,” Reid said. 

The enduring beauty of the garden attracts plenty of visitors each year, with some choosing the garden as the backdrop for life’s singular moments, like graduation or engagement photo shoots. 

“I heard from a woman who said her grandmother got married in the garden,” Lackman said. “And those stories are always nice to hear.” 

Fayetteville Rose Garden caretaker Ashley Reid’s tips for cultivating roses at home: 

  • Make the first cut back of the year in late February or early March, and Reid says to be mindful to remove anything “dead, dying or diseased.” 
  • Remove and replace all pine straw in the bed to ensure no cross-contamination from diseased debris. 
  • Reid suggests using drip irrigation rather than overhead watering as another way to prevent the spread of fungus. 
  • Fertilize roses about every 60 days during the growing season. Spray them with fungicide to keep black spot at bay. Keep an eye out for insects in summer and spray some sort of dormant oil or insecticide. 
  • Spray pruners and other tools with rubbing alcohol to clean off fungus.  
  • When a bloom has faded, trim the plant down to the next set of five leaves.