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Queens Botanical Garden Teaches Sustainable Rose Care


April 3, 2008
Contact: Scott Stefan, 718-886-3800, ext. 329,


Flushing, New York, April 3, 2008 – On Saturday, April 12, at 11am, horticulturist Karl McKoy of Queens Botanical Garden, will teach rose lovers how to prevent disease in their plants without using fungicides and herbicides. Entitled “Rose Care Demonstration by Karl McKoy,” the hands-on workshop will cover rose-care basics with an accent on proper pruning technique.
McKoy tends the 1,000 hybrid tea roses in QBG’s spacious Rose Garden. By judicious pruning, McKoy produces flourishing roses while adhering to QBG’s stringent no-pesticide/no-herbicide practice. McKoy’s pruning prevents black spot, a common blight caused by the fungus Diplocarpon rosae. The disease appears first as black spots on the plant’s leaves and soon creates purple or black lesions on the cane, the bush’s woody stem. Left untreated, black spot will defoliate a rose bush.  “No other type of garden suffers from so voracious a disease,” said McKoy, “because rose gardens are a monoculture. It started with modern roses and advertising as people were encouraged to plant an entire garden with only roses.”
“The point of wise pruning is to stimulate disease suppression by cutting away dead wood and improving air circulation,” said McKoy. He trims QBG’s roses into the shape of a vase and removes dead wood and leaves from the center. In addition, McKoy cuts the rose cane back to outward-facing buds and removes all the buds from the inside, again to ventilate the shrub. 
By pruning QBG’s roses in July and August, when black spot commonly appears, McKoy enjoys another benefit: an extra flowering cycle. “In the wild, roses bloom once a year, typically in early June, but it’s possible to get three cycles from a bush if you prune it the right way,” said McKoy. He pointed out that by doing a late-summer pruning, New York Botanical Garden is able to celebrate their rose ball in September.
McKoy comes from a long line of rose cultivators in his native Sheffield, England. An added attraction of “Rose Care Demonstration” is the sound of McKoy’s Yorkshire accent. “Everyone in my family had roses,” he said, “and the white rose is the symbol of Yorkshire.” Most Americans recognize Sheffield as the backdrop for the 1997 comedy, The Full Monty, and while it’s true that Sheffield was once a capital of steel production, it also has ten public gardens. With more than two million trees, Sheffield claims to have more trees per-capita than any other city in Europe.
McKoy studied horticulture at Capel Manor College of the London School of Horticulture. He learned his trade assisting the restoration of a walled garden built by Leopold de Rothschild on land that became London’s Gunnersby Park in 1917. King George II’s eldest daughter Princess Amelia owned the land before the Rothschilds. When McKoy isn’t wielding pruning shears, he’s usually working on mixed-media art that can be viewed at  It’s impressive that all eight paintings on the site’s second page have been sold. 
Gardeners who attend Karl’s demonstration should bring their own pruning shears. The workshop costs $15 for QBG members and $20 for nonmembers. Call 718-886-3800, ext.230, to register.
Queens Botanical Garden, 43-50 Main St., Flushing, NY 11355. Accessible by LIRR or #7 train to Main St., Flushing. Buses: Q44, Q20.


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Support to QBG given by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs