Garden Roses LLC was formed in 2022 by Nate Fisher to hybridize roses with a focus on disease resistance, strong fragrance, vivid colors, and unique bloom form.
Nate started growing roses in April 2016 with 6 roses: "Munstead Wood," "Charlotte," "Olivia Rose Austin," "Lady Emma Hamilton," "Bishop's Castle," and "Boscobel." When a neighbor stopped by unexpectedly to ask about the "beautiful roses - are they David Austins?" Nate was excited to go outside and talk about them. Soon after this conversation, he planted a hedge row of additional roses - "Molineux" - bringing the total to 31.
Nate and his family moved to the Lehigh Valley in 2018. Not wanting to leave his roses behind, but also not wanting to worry about the logistics of moving these roses a couple of hours away, prompted Nate to create a rose garden at his grandparents' nearby home using those original 31 roses he had. (Originally not a gardener, each year Nate's grandmother asks him to add a couple of additional roses to her expanding rose garden!)
In the family's new home, (a rental) Nate quickly got to work creating a new garden starting out with 22 roses (with the landlord's blessing). In April 2020, with lots of extra time on his hands (due to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic), Nate started to look at becoming a "rosarian," something he didn't expect to do until he retired. He discovered that the closest local chapters of ARS were Philadelphia or West Jersey. Desiring a group closer, he started researching the process of starting up a chapter. He looked at other rose societies across the country to see what sort of activities/events they did, what worked well for them (or what didn't), what membership numbers looked like, how social media pages/websites were handled, etc., to come up with a clear plan for a successful organization. The Lehigh Valley Rose Society was formed, and as of September 2022, accounts for roughly 20% of all ARS members in Pennsylvania & New Jersey combined.
He formulated and registered with the PA Dept of Agriculture an all-natural, organic rose fertilizer with a blend of mycorrhizal fungi, which serves as an ongoing fundraiser for the organization's operating expenses. It's received rave reviews and has been used at the Malcolm W. Gross Memorial Rose Garden in Allentown, PA, for the past 2 years.
In August 2020, Nate went back to school at Oregon State University (through their eCampus program) to major in Botany & Plant Pathology.
In October 2020, Nate & his family purchased a home in Allentown. Now with their own property, in the spring of 2021, the Fishers went "all in" with their garden. They removed all of the grass and planted 97 roses, as well as various bulbs, a raised vegetable garden, and pollinator-friendly perennials.
In 2020 and 2021, LVRS members led revitalization efforts at the Bethlehem Rose Garden, which was neglected by the city for several years and had a severe outbreak of RRD (Rose Rosette Disease). In the summer of 2021, with the garden now under control, volunteer efforts were handed over to the local neighborhood association. Desiring a new project, Nate reached out to local municipalities to ask if they'd be interested in a public rose garden. Upper Saucon Township responded right away, and Nate designed a rose garden featuring 672 roses and 576 bulbs/annuals/perennials for their new Hopewell Park. A year later, close to $100,000 has been raised and the project is about halfway complete. Nate is overseeing the logistics and construction as "Project Manager."
In September 2021, Nate received the American Rose Society's "Rising Star" award at the ARS National Rose Show & Convention in Milwaukee, WI. Nate has given presentations to various gardening clubs and ARS affiliates/chapters on rose care, soil science, running a successful ARS chapter, disease/pest identification & management, etc. He was featured in the January/February 2022 "American Rose" magazine, and he's been a guest on "Rose Chat."
With nearly 100 of his own roses, in 2022, Nate and his family decided to start exhibiting in rose shows. In 2022, the Fishers received 7 trophies, 7 best-in-class, 29 firsts, 1 gold certificate, 2 bronze certificates, 1 Queen, 1 King, 1 Princess, 1 Duchess, 32 seconds, 21 thirds, and 59 honorable mentions.
During those 2 years, Nate started to develop connections with others in "the rose world." Nate's interest in rose hybridizing was sparked by meeting and talking with Will Radler (hybridizer of the "Knockout" family of roses), Steve Singer, Steven Roussell, Dr. Jim Sproul, Dave Bang, & David Clemons. He joined the Rose Hybridizers Association, and with the 672 Hopewell Park roses and his 97 roses at home, started to cross roses.
In Nate's first harvest, he collected 288 rose hips containing a total of 2,464 seeds.