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Released August 8, 2003

David Tisdale

HATTIESBURG --- Rose fans in the Hattiesburg area don't have to go far to see the latest hybrid of the popular plant.

As home to one of only two All-American Rose Gardens in the state, The University of Southern Mississippi's garden is a colorful showcase for the work of rose growers hoping to get their product on the market.

Each year, Southern Miss receives from two to three new roses from the All-American Rose Society that join the approximately 750 plants that make up the garden located at the front of the university's campus. This year's edition includes such names as "Day Breaker," "Memorial Day" and "Honey Perfume."

"Once they (society) select the roses, they send them to us in early spring," said Sid Krhut of the Southern Miss Grounds Department. Krhut and his staff are responsible for the care and promotion of the garden and an estimated 500 more rose plants located throughout the campus. "We're responsible for caring for them and making them visible to the public."

The All-American Rose Society provides the roses to their designated gardens across the country through its distribution arm, All-American Rose Selections Inc. of Chicago. The roses are award-winners as judged by evaluators from the society, and their display in the gardens is not only an opportunity for rose lovers to examine them, but also a chance to market the plants to potential buyers.

"They (rose growers) love the smell and the colors, those are the main things they like about roses," said Larry Underwood, who assists Krhut with maintenance of the plants at Southern Miss.

The garden at Southern Miss was developed by the Hattiesburg Area Rose Society in 1972 through the leadership of the late William Wicht, a Hattiesburg resident who served as the first president of HARS. A memorial to Wicht's efforts to make the garden a reality is located next to the garden. Since its official dedication in 1974, the Southern Miss rose garden has received numerous awards for maintenance and display.

Maintaining the garden takes a larger measure of dedication and work than regular watering and fertilizer application. Vulnerable to various diseases and insects, roses require weekly sprayings and trimming of dead leaves and stems, along with thorough prepping of the garden beds in the spring, which Krhut said is a two-week process.

But for rose lovers, the rewards are worth all the effort. "Roses are different from a lot of other landscape plants," Krhut said. "They have a long period of bloom production, from midspring to November."

For information about the Southern Miss All-American Rose Garden and to arrange tours of the garden, contact Krhut at (601) 266-6951.


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM