One of the most pleasant activities today was my visit to the Antique Rose Emporium in Independence. Not only are the gardens beautiful but they also smell so fragrant!
G. Michael Shoup, owner of The Antique Rose Emporium, started in the nursery business in 1976 as a grower of woody ornamentals for the landscape industry and retail centers. He soon lost interest in them and began to look for plants native to Texas that might fill the same niche. He and his staff began looking for wild plants. They also started finding ever blooming roses surviving without any apparent care in rather desolate surroundings. In 1982, while taking an unaccustomed route back to the nursery after a delivery, one of his co-workers chanced upon a huge rose covering a chain-link fence and doing very well. He brought back flowers and cuttings, which a rosarian identified as 'Mermaid'. Soon, it and the other survivors they found became the foundation of the Antique Rose Emporium.
In 1984 they discovered and joined an organized group of the Rose Rustlers. They went out on rustles, swapped "found" roses and talked about what would and would not grow. They got help from other rosarians, botanical gardens and literature in identifying the found roses. Many of them had once been in commerce, in some cases as many as 150 years ago, but only a few still were. They created a catalog with the initial criteria of survival and usefulness.
Due to great public response, they started the display garden in 1985 with a cottage garden and a small formal planting. It combines Texas native plants with roses much as a pioneer gardener might have done in the 1850s. (http://www.antiqueroseemporium.com)