Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Interview with Author Joe Truskot.....part one
Today I have the great pleasure of interviewing Joseph Truskot, author of the Central Coast Rose Manual, and expert on the subject of roses. The book is a must-have for rose gardeners, especially those living on the Central California Coast. Mr. Truskot was executive director of the Monterey Symphony for twenty years, just the tip of the iceberg in a long list of accomplishments. So let’s get to know this gentleman a little better.................
What led you to gardening, and roses in particular?.............................
My father’s parents came from Poland in their twenties. Although my grandfather worked in a steel mill, he farmed a small plot of land as well and my grandmother kept a garden in her backyard where she grew flowers and vegetables. As a little boy, I remember playing in the garden and riding the tractor out in the field. At the same time, back in the 1950's, my mother’s mother showed me how to sprout a bean in a paper cup with a handful of soil and how to start an Arrowhead plant (Syngonium podophyllum) in a glass of water. I think descendants of that plant were still growing in my parent’s upstairs bathroom a dozen years ago. I picked hydroponics as my high school science project and grew radishes in January in Ohio. It was a great sense of accomplishment. As part of our household chores, I always helped maintain the yard. I have a vivid memory of my mother’s close friend arriving at our house one summer in tears. She had just sold her house. Her husband had died a few months before and she was moving into an apartment. As she was leaving her house for the last time, this overwhelming sadness came over her. She didn’t want to abandon her beloved plants to strangers so she haphazardly dug them up, threw them in cardboard boxes, and brought them to my mother. I got recruited to find a spot for them in our yard. I remember wondering at the time what could make this elderly lady have such a deep emotional reaction to a bunch of irises, day lillies and heuchera. I know now. My Uncle Charlie, though, was the avid rose grower in our family. He knew how to make cuttings and tend his roses which he grew all of his adult life. I regret now not spending more time with him on this topic.
The other great influence on my growing roses was my parent’s next door neighbor Jean Glowacki. She was born and raised in Cameron, West Virginia and always had a dozen or so roses growing in her front yard. I specifically remember her growing a deep, dark red one named “Oklahoma.” It had a wonderful fragrance. She also grew “Peace” as did most folks back then and probably “Sterling Silver,” “Mister Lincoln,” “Garden Party,” and “Tiffany.” That began my fascination with roses. The main park in Lorain, Ohio, my hometown, had a rose garden of considerable reputation in its heyday. I remember going out of my way to ride through it on my bicycle to and from the beach. Turns out the shore of Lake Erie is a great place to grow roses (and apples, cherries, grapes, etc.) because the heat of the water in the Lake extends the growing season by about two weeks.
Fast forward twenty-five years. I had lived my entire adult life in apartments and condominiums. In 1992, I was looking for a place to live on the Monterey Peninsula. A friend said look in Salinas. On my first day out, I realized that it was quite feasible for me to own a house with a yard. Bang. I bought 350 Chaparral Street in December 1992. Bang. A sudden case of rose fever developed. Bang. I’ve been happy ever since.
Please view these videos:
MBRS Display Garden
Central Coast Rose Manual....available on Amazon