Joseph Truskot is a highly skilled rose grower: the American Rose Society has awarded him the title of Master Consulting Rosarian. For the past thirteen years, he has been sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm about roses as editor of The Bay Rose, the monthly newsletter of the Monterey Bay Rose Society.
Truskot’s new book is a compilation of his writing for that newsletter, but he has edited his work inventively so that the chapters no longer resemble newsletter articles. The chapters, which are organized by calendar month, combine seasonal notes on timely topics with the spontaneous thoughts of an avid rose gardener, all in a conversational tone. Each chapter provides valuable guidance for growing roses successfully, focusing in most cases on hybrid teas, floribundas, grandifloras, and shrub roses.
This schedule of cultivation is the largest section, but the book includes additional sections: a monthly Activity Calendar, Species and Cultivars, Terminology, Rose Gardening Essentials, and Common Rose Challenges, which include diseases, large and small pests, weeds, and chlorosis. There is also a selective bibliography, a brief biography of the author, and a thorough index, which is always useful in a book with a chronological organization.
The book includes many fine photos of roses, almost all taken by the author in his own garden or other gardens on the Central Coast.
The book focuses, appropriately enough, on the selection and cultivation of roses, which makes it useful for managing a collection of roses. I would like to have seen suggestions for landscaping with roses, though I realize that landscape considerations are less specific to a given geographic region.
The author notes, “General guidebooks on roses tend to describe growth inaccurately for California…Many of the top-rated varieties in the nation perform miserably in Central Coast gardens.” The cultivation of roses in coastal California is quite different from that in the nation’s north central and northeastern regions—or England—particularly with regard for the timing of planting and pruning.
For this reason, the regional focus of Truskot’s book adds greatly to its usefulness for rose gardeners in the Monterey Bay area, as well as for much of California’s central and northern coastal regions. An author who self-publishes a book is free to stick with material that he or she knows best, even when it is more relevant to a less-than-national readership. Truskot’s rose recommendations for this region’s particular environment exemplify that point, and are enough for all Central Coast growers of roses to justify keeping the book within easy reach.
In addition, one dollar from each sale of the Central Coast Rose Manual will go toward the maintenance of the Monterey Bay Rose Society’s display garden at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds.
Tom Karwin, Master Gardener
Santa Cruz, California