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A rose by any other name

With all the varieties of the flower, local growers have a few hundred favorites

With all the varieties of the flower, local growers have a few hundred favorites

June 02, 2002|by KATE COLEMAN

Charlie Mundey grumbles a little about having to buy roses for his wife, Judy, on Valentine's Day and on their wedding anniversary, Oct. 20.

He doesn't begrudge her the roses.

Quite the contrary.

Charlie Mundey loves roses. It's the timing that bothers him.

The man has 300 rosebushes in his Hagerstown yard - miniature roses, rambling roses, floribunda roses, shrub roses and hybrid teas.

There are red roses, pink roses, yellow roses and white roses. There are bi-color roses - some subtle cream with reddish edges, and others - golden blossoms - parts of whose petals morph into hot pink craziness.

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"Charlie Mundey is 'Mr. Rose' in this county," says Dick Chaney of Hagerstown, who is president of the Cumberland Valley Rose Society, the local chapter of the 110-year-old American Rose Society.

Chaney has a shady yard, and although he has only 30 rosebushes, his roses have taken first- and second-place ribbons in rose shows. His "Nantucket," a pink, and "Garden Party," a pinkish rose, have done well.

His "Peace" rose, a fragrant hybrid tea, also has done well. "It's a good grower," he says.

Yes, roses have names and their growers know them. Charlie Mundey's roses have name tags - neat little plaques in the ground in front of each bush. There's "French Perfume," "Mr. Lincoln," "Jadis" "Veterans' Honor," a dark red hybrid tea developed by Jackson and Perkins Rose Co. The company donates 10 percent of proceeds from the sale of the rose to Veterans Administration medical research.

The American Rose Society, a nonprofit organization of more than 24,000 members, is dedicated to the cultivation and enjoyment of roses. So are the local growers.

The Mundeys have lived in their home since 1964. "We got into roses a few years after that," Charlie Mundey says.

And then some.

Roses are her husband's first love. "I come second," Judy Mundey says with a smile.

Before he retired from Mack Trucks Inc. 10 years ago, Charlie Mundey would call home if a storm was brewing to tell Judy to cover the roses with plastic bags. When the weather cleared, he'd call back to remind her to remove them.

They're like babies, she says.

There are a few other flowers at the Mundeys' home, but the roses are special.

Fragrance is important to Judy Mundey. And that's something you don't always find in roses grown commercially - many of them in South America.

Fragrance is not what Charlie Mundey values most. "I want to see a big beautiful bloom," he says.

But those beautiful blooms take a lot of work. Planting - in the right mix of soil - mulching, fertilizing and spraying for fungus, disease and insect pests consume time and money.

Charlie Mundey has found a good combination fungicide-insecticide for $11 a pint. "That's cheap," he says, comparing it to other products that retail for many times as much.

And although the All-America Rose Selections association says "Nothing is more important for a rose bush's survival and performance than water," Charlie Mundey says he can't afford to water his roses.

Something must be working.

What do the Mundeys do with all their beautiful roses?

They give many of them away to family and friends for birthday and anniversary presents, some to nursing homes.

"I like to float them," says Judy Mundey. She has a glass container that sits in a brass holder and fills it with water and a rose, cut at the bloom's base. Spring through fall, Charlie Mundey wears a miniature rose in his lapel to church every Sunday.

"We enjoy the roses," Judy Mundey says, rocking with her husband in their breezeway swing - roses to the left, roses to the right and roses in neat beds in their backyard and on the other side of their house.

"We just sit here and look at them," says Charlie Mundey.

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