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Spotlight on Clifford O. and His Rare Own-Root Roses

Cold frame without poly filmWhat started as a friendly gesture back in 2001 to help an elderly neighbor care for her roses, grew into a lifelong passion for maintaining what is today one of the largest and most diverse private rose collections in the United States. Cliff O. grows over 5,000 roses and rose seedlings in the California high desert near Palm Springs.

Roses in cold frameCliff hadn’t always been growing in the high desert, however, as his previous growing experience had been in the low desert where he was used to the steady environment. In his transition to the high desert, he found it very difficult to care for his delicate plants the way he was accustomed to, because the moderate temperatures during the day would drastically change to freezing temperatures at night. The strong winds of the high desert provided additional challenges. Cliff had been relying on shade cloth alone, but he knew he would need additional shelter for his plants to protect them from the freezing nights.

Cliff decided to purchase EZ-Build & Gro Cold Frames to protect his plants. A surprising detail is that he was driven to obtain the winter protection not for his precious roses, but primarily for his tropical plants. He explains, “Many tropical plants can grow without protection in the low desert, but it’s too cold in this area. I was looking for a structure that was affordable, fairly easy to install and maintain, and something that would allow me to protect my tropical plants and later expand to rose-related uses.”

Flowers growing on benches in cold frameThe cold frames proved to be a very important addition for Cliff and his blossoming plants. “The biggest surprise for me,” he admits, “was how many uses I found for the cold frames. They’ve been a tremendous asset in starting bare-root roses in winter and in protecting young own-root plants and allowing them to grow and mature before having to face the elements. I started with one 30’ cold frame and quickly added one 50’ cold frame and three additional 30’ cold frames.”

Cliff was able to get a new business up and running and says, “From a business perspective, using cold frames allows propagation throughout the year, adding at least one, if not two cycles throughout the winter, which would otherwise not be possible.” He encourages hobbyists and commercial growers to use cold frames and he adds, “There’s no question that starting my roses in cold frames has resulted in a higher success rate, and more importantly, has allowed the plants to rapidly grow and mature before exposing them to the elements.”

How could you use a cold frame to improve your growing? If you already use one, do you have a story you’d like to share?Flowers growing in cold frame

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