My ‘Voluptuous!’ roses are a showstopper. They have a light fragrance and bloom nonstop.” MARGO HARROD
Margo Harrod at her home on Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa.
Recollections of her pediatrician father gardening at her childhood home in San Antonio, Texas, and the fragrant roses her grandparents’ raised only two houses away, float through Harrod’s mind as she works. “Trial and error,” she says, taught her about deadheading, where to plant for optimal sun exposure and how to cluster multiples for more impact. She constantly tweaks landscape architect Ted Kempton’s original design. “I plant what makes me happy,” she said. “If it doesn’t make me happy, it’s out. “Some roses I’ve had for 20 years, nonperformers are replaced within a year.” One early lesson: Bees are not the enemy. “I love my bees. We need bees,” Harrod said. “We share the same roses, and I often get stung.” It’s the two-legged pests that bug her, the kind who climb over the wall and help themselves to a few roses. Hence, the security cameras in the trees, she notes. Very rarely does Harrod cut the blooms to display indoors, insisting “they belong outside for everyone to enjoy.” The weddings of all three Harrod daughters took place in the rose garden. On Mondays, Harrod follows herbicide sprayer Todd
Morgan as he works to control insects and diseases that can harm roses. He wears protective gear, from fingertips to boots, and a respirator. Her Saturday routine includes stopping by Hardin’s Nursery on S Dale Mabry Highway, where she values the wide selection and unlimited expertise. “I go sometimes just to look, plan and maybe not buy,” she said. “I always come away from there knowing a little more about my roses.” Will she name a favorite in her ever-growing collection? How could she possibly settle on just one? “I have a lot of favorites for different reasons,” she said. “My Voluptuous! roses are a showstopper,” Harrod said, pointing to a vivid fuchsia cluster of 20-some bushes in the southwest corner. “They have a light fragrance and bloom nonstop. “Maybe Grandiflora, a cross between a hybrid tea and a Floribunda, gives you the best of both.” February brought a flurry of activity in the Harrod yard as all the bushes are pruned, trimmed by two-thirds and stripped of their leaves. For 45 to 60 days the roses rest and regenerate. Harrod patiently awaits spring’s awakening and the restorative power of her garden at the end of March.