INDEPENDENCE, TX — At the Antique Rose Emporium in Independence, just outside Brenham, the eight acres of exquisite gardens can inspire anyone to indulge in the romance of roses.
"Rose is something I never really fashioned myself being in but found old garden roses living in abandoned home sites and cemeteries and these are time-tested varieties that are extremely durable and tough," Mike Shoup, the founder of the Antique Rose Emporium explains. "This is the kind of plant I wanted for landscapes, for gardens."
"So, I was not really interested in roses, but roses found me, so to speak. I found roses growing in places where they were not getting care from human hands and these time-tested varieties were so strong, so compelling that we brought them back to our nursery, took cuttings and realized they were really deserving to come into the future."
Roses can have the reputation of being fussy and hard to grow. For Shoup, he couldn't resist the call of the romantic flower.
Shoup maintains the roses shouldn't be kept in what he calls "planter box prisons."
The business started 45 years ago and with a variety called Mermaid. a nearly 100-year-old plant that continues to blossom to this day.
From there the nursery business has taken off, especially with the resurgence of home gardening during the pandemic.
"They're easy to grow, they have fragrance, and fragrance to me is the most compelling part of the equation. Because they're the memory, they're the soul. When you smell a rose, you can be transformed into the past," Shoup said.
Shoup maintains the smell of the roses is something most folks who shop for the flowers at stores miss out on.
"Fragrance is such a wonderful and missing aspect of roses. If people hold up a rose to their nose, and they smell it and it doesn't have any fragrance, they might as well be looking at a picture of a rose in a book."
The Antique Rose Emporium is more than just a nursery business. The grounds feature a chapel, popular among couples getting married, several different garden styles, and a piece of the past with a portion of a historic homestead from the early days of Texas as a republic.
The main attraction, though, is the abundant flowers, and what Shoup hopes serves as an inspiration for what your own garden can become.
"So, what we want people to take home and when they come here is the spirit that you can garden and have incredible beauty with gardening and fragrance and artistic empowerment, is what a garden is, and that's what we want to sell here."
So, no matter your reason for visiting, you're sure to come out smelling like a rose.