Rose Cuttings – April, 2011

In spring, poppies, larkspur and countless other flowers bloom in abundance at the Antique Rose Emporium. All photos by Carolyn Skei.

Best Little Field Trip in Texas

Trees, shrubs, annuals, perennials, vegetables and roses surround the wishing well.

Martha (sister) strolls among the roses.

The Tin Man collapses beside poppies and bicycle.

With birthdays close together, my sister and I celebrate every year by taking a short trip — always to some corner of Texas that we haven’t explored before. This year it was a long-overdue trip to Mike Shoup’s Antique Rose Emporium near Brenham. (The stuff of legend, this remarkable place is where one of our cousins wants to go when he dies.)

The prairie winds whipped us toward the entrance, and I wondered if T.S. Eliot was thinking about Texas when he wrote, “April is the cruellest month.” It was going to be a miracle if any rose or leaf stood still for its photo this trip. Still, there was magic in the air, and we danced past the first few beds of roses and perennials like the happy kids we were lucky to be, decades ago.

One of the most exciting things about the 8-acre Antique Rose Emporium is the way Mike and his staff have combined annuals, perennials, vegetables, and historic roses with trees, shrubs, hardscaping, and whimsical garden art. The challenge was to take it all in – poppies, larkspur, chard, ‘Peggy Martin’ roses (with their interesting Hurricane Katrina story), penstemons, mock orange…. There was something new at every turn – a yellow brick road, a wishing well, trellis after trellis dripping with healthy roses, fascinating old buildings, and the inquisitive ARE cat.

Needless to say, we spent hours there – and came away with treasures from both the gift shop and nursery, two of the most pleasurable places to spend money ever! As we made our exit, the collapsed Tin Man winked at us. I’d bet on it.

We ended with a short jaunt down Leuckemeyer Road in Independence, to the area where Mike conducts his breeding program. His final gift to us – blossoms from a new rose with a beautiful fragrance. It isn’t ready for prime time yet, he said, but it provided endless aroma therapy for the contented ride home.

About ARE: Visit the Antique Rose Emporium’s display gardens in both Brenham and San Antonio for endless ideas on landscaping with roses. To order roses online, visit

About the author: Carolyn Skei is the editor of Neil Sperry’s GARDENS magazine and e-gardens newsletter.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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