Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

'Otherwise Normal People' Share Passion for Roses

How does one "motivate" an underperforming rose bush? How about a "probation" garden? Or perhaps a shovel, placed ominously next to the disappointing plant?

These are techniques shared by competitive rose gardeners: folks who have turned their lives over to the blooms, and who travel around the country entering their prize specimens in flower shows.

Their stories are told in Otherwise Normal People, a new book by Aurelia C. Scott.

Clarence Rhodes, an award-winning rose breeder who has 250 bushes, joins Scott to talk to Melissa Block about the tricks of the trade, such as Bob Martin's shovel.

Martin swears the plant "perks right up," Rhodes says.

Rhodes and Scott also describe the rose-show environment, and how growers use Q-Tips to separate petals and otherwise primp their blossoms.

"Most of the people in [the book] are crazy about roses, and they love to compete, and they've managed to combine both of those obsessions," Scott says.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit

To make informed decisions, the public must receive unbiased truth.

As Southwestern Pennsylvania’s only independent public radio news and information station, we give voice to provocative ideas that foster a vibrant, informed, diverse and caring community.

WESA is primarily funded by listener contributions. Your financial support comes with no strings attached. It is free from commercial or political influence…that’s what makes WESA a free vital community resource. Your support funds important local journalism by WESA and NPR national reporters.

You give what you can, and you get news you can trust.
Please give now to continue providing fact-based journalism — a monthly gift of just $5 or $10 makes a big difference.