Erika Petterson

I had the enormous pleasure of interviewing Erika Petterson recently. She is a self-taught rose gardener who has only been rose gardening for 2 years, but she has been flower gardening for 5 years.

When Erika graduated from college with two degrees she wondered what she could study next and her answer to herself was roses! I think this is so cool and I’m soo…. impressed with anyone that wants to learn just for the sake of learning!

So anyway, Erika researched roses intensively for 3 months and then started applying what she learned. She bought 3 roses for a picket fence in her yard. Her research convinced her that she wanted climbers, shrubs and old garden roses, and by the end of the first year she had 18 rose bushes and she’s already ordered 14 more for this year!

What follows is my interview with Erika. I know you’ll enjoy it!

Just Julie: So are there any roses that you don’t like!

Erika: Of course! I don't like hybrid teas. They’re too fussy and the cheap pre bagged rose bushes die out. It’s bad rootstock, and they discourage people from growing roses.

Just Julie: What roses do you currently have, then?

Erika: Well, I have the following:

Hot Cocoa - FloribundaFrancois Juranville – Wichurana ramblerConstance Spry – David Austin climber (English rose)Princess Alexandra of Kent x2 (One didn't establish) – David Austin (English rose)Souvenir de la Malmaison – BourbonMme Hardy - DamaskHenry Kelsey – Canadian Explorer climberAutumn Sunset – ClimberAlexander Mackenzie – Canadian Explorer shrubMorden Fireglow – Parkland Candian shrubMilwaukee’s Calatrava – Bill Radler shrub roseTuscany Superb – GallicaQueen of Sweden – David Austin shrub (English rose)Julia Child – FloribundaWilliam Shakespeare – David Austin (English rose)Nearly Wild – FloribundaBlanc Double de Coubert – Hybrid RugosaMme de Sancy de Parabère – Boursault climber

And I’ve ordered for spring:

Viking Queen - Large-flowered climberHansa x 2 – Hybrid RugosaHermosa - Hybrid ChinaJacques Cartier a.k.a Marchesa Boccella - Hybrid PerpetualVille de Bruxelles - DamaskCharles de Mills - GallicaHenri Martin – MossMunstead Wood – David Austin (English rose)Princess Alexandra of Kent – David Austin (English rose)Baronne Prevost - Hybrid PerpetualPretty Jessica – David Austin (English rose)Wise Portia – David Austin (English rose)Long John Silver - Hybrid Setigera climber/rambler (On waiting list for this rose)

Just Julie: Wow, Erica that’s quite a list! Who is your favorite supplier?

Erika:Most of my roses have come from Pickering in Canada followed by Heirloom for ‘own root’ roses. I’ve also purchased from Jung’s for a few.

Just Julie: What's the favorite rose that you own? Any favorite colors?

Erika:I don’t really have a favorite. I like them all at different times for different characteristics. Most are only a year or so in the ground and some will have their first bloom this spring.

So far, though, I have a least favorite – Morden Fireglow. It may be shovel pruned this spring. It had blackspot all last summer and lost all its leaves. I’m all over the place when it comes to colors. I like a lot!

Just Julie: Do you buy any roses locally?

Erika: Local nurseries don’t stock a very wide variety. The trend to landscape for curb appeal has narrowed rose options to the Knock Out family and that is primarily what is carried in nurseries. I don’t own any Knock Outs.

I only purchased two roses locally so far. One came from the Ozaukee County Master Gardener’s plant and herb sale. The other wasn’t stocked at the nursery where I got it, but they were able to get it for me in a couple days from a supplier.

Just Julie: How do you take care of your roses for winter considering that we live in zone 5 and we can have cold, hard winters?

Erika: I don’t really. I’ve tried to select most to be hardy. For a few, I mounded dirt on the base of the plant just to be on the safe side.

Just Julie: Will this winter of no snow in Dec. and half of Jan. make problems for your roses?


I’m not quite sure. The problem with roses is more in the spring with all the funky freeze-thaw that can happen here. Also, drying winds are a problem. I’ve been lucky so far and have only lost one rose and it wasn’t winter weather related. I’ll let you know in the spring if something doesn’t survive.

Just Julie: What is your procedure in the spring?


The new bare root roses go in the ground sometime during the last week in April or first week of May. Pruning follows shortly after along with fertilizing.

I find fertilizing confusing (too much chemistry). This year my goal is to set up a plan and schedule what I want to do and when. So far I’ve just grabbed the package with a rose on the front and applied on a lackadaisical schedule.

Just Julie: How much time do you spend gardening daily?

Erika: I don’t really know, every weekend in May and the beginning of June. But after the big spring push, I mostly putter. We’ve been adding beds and flowers every year, so there’s more work watering and establishing the plants. During the week I like to wander the garden with a glass of wine in the evening and deadhead.

Just Julie: You’re a girl after my own heart! Do you have other flowers besides roses?

Erika: Yes – lots.

Just Julie: How much space to you have to garden in?

Erika: Urgh, math! I’ve figured that my gardens are roughly 1,750 sq. ft. which is more than the floor plan of my house! Within those areas are a number of trees and larger shrub foundational plantings and I counted raised beds, too. We are considering some expansion this spring in some areas too. There might be something wrong with me!!

Just Julie: I don’t think so. You’re just lucky that your husband let’s you turn his turf into garden! How much of your yard is sunny and shady?

Erika: I have two-ish areas of shade – one area of dry shade beneath a spruce which is the bane of my yard right now, but I have quite a bit of sun and part-sun. You need a lot of sun to grow roses. Most like full sun. A few kinds like it a bit shadier though.

Just Julie: You did a lot of research learning about roses when you first started out. Do you have a favorite book or author?

Erika: Yes I do: Right Rose, Right Place by Peter Schneider – He gardens in Ohio so his book is very helpful to rose gardeners in the Midwest.I also highly recommend the Rose and Antique/OGR forums on

Just Julie: Do you use any commercial rose sprays?

Erika: My goal is a no-spray garden. I’ll be trying to prevent black spot this summer by dusting plants with cornmeal. Some organic gardeners find this effective, and I thought I’d give it a whirl and see what happens.

Just Julie: Thank you so much for talking to me! You’re an inspiration to my DIYers! Good luck with your garden this summer and send me some pictures. I’d love to share them!

Erika: My pleasure!

So gardeners, what do you think? Now is the time to do your own research and maybe order something new for this spring. Thanks, for gardening with Julie.

Related Articles:

Interviews with Julie

Other Interviews:

Eileen Rudnick
Claudia Brownlie
Zannah Crowe
David Leach -A Rose Gardener

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