Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Rose Man

Photo credit: John Tlumacki/ Boston Globe Staff

I'm always fascinated by how a person's passion in life gets started. For some a hobby becomes a passion from a childhood interest that grew into something more. For others the inspiration may have come from a parent, teacher, or mentor who influenced them. Yet for a small group of very special people a passion stemmed from a tragedy. The Rose Man (Irwin Ehrenreich) is one of those special people who looked at a life changing event as an opportunity to pursue a different course and create a more fulfilling life.

Irwin Ehrenreich was a successful surgeon. Not just any surgeon but one who specialized in ears, nose, and throat micro-surgery - a career where precision fine motor skills can make a difference between life and death. But, what happens when a surgeon loses his dexterity due an unfortunate accident? For some it would a be a devastating blow from which they would never recover, but for a man like Irwin it was the start of a new chapter in his life.

In 1996 Irwin, who was 45 at the time, was deep in the midst of renovating a 300 year old house which he and his wife Cindy purchased on Cape Cod. On one fateful day he was at the table saw when his mind drifted and he severed 2 fingers on his left hand - his dominant hand no less. Although surgeons were able to successfully reattach one finger he lost his fine motor skills that made performing the type of surgery he did impossible.

While recovering from his injuries and reassessing his life his wife suggested he grow roses. It wasn't long before Irwin became hooked on roses and began pursuing his new hobby with the same fervor and cognitive abilities that him a successful surgeon years earlier.

Within a few years Irwin and his wife Cindy had transformed their 2 acre Barnstable property into a garden oasis - growing over 500 roses. Irwin is now a respected master gardener, sought after lecturer, consultant, and proud owner of the Rose Man Nursery and Emporium in Carver, Massachusetts. He has been featured in numerous gardening magazines and books including Country Garden Magazine and "A Garden Lover's Cape Cod", by C.L. Fornari.

I had the pleasure to meet Irwin the day that Andy and I went to the cranberry festival. I was not only fascinated by his story but also by his enthusiasm and positive outlook on life. He is a modest, down to earth soul who wears his gray hair long in a pony-tail tucked neatly under a baseball cap. Irwin makes you feel right at home in his greenhouse when you meet him. He is warm, friendly, and loves to share his knowledge about his passion for roses (I only wish I had more time to pick his brain while I was there).

I met Irwin just as his rose season was wrapping up. The massive greenhouse that was empty would soon be filled again for overwintering his prized possessions.

The empty greenhouse will soon be filled with inventory and overwintering roses.

Outside the greenhouse was a fanciful and playful rose garden that was waning quickly with the brisk autumn air, but could still be enjoyed immensely. The garden is divided up into themes of sorts with trellises, bird houses, brick pathways, sculptures, and picket fences. There is even a Wizard of Oz themed garden complete with a yellow brick road and a figurine of Toto. All of this was designed and built by Irwin of course and he's not nearly done.

Attached to his greenhouse is an old railroad car that was given to Irwin by the owner of Edaville. He is in the process of refurbishing it and turning it into his office. It seems that Irwin has a flair for reusing old items and turning them into something beautiful which is evident by the creative re-purposing of old items in his rose garden.

Here you can see the old train car that is attached to the greenhouse.
Irwin is working on refurbishing it into his office.

I can't wait to visit the Rose Man next year in the spring and summer to see his garden in all of its glory. If you are in the Carver area please stop by to pay him a visit. If not, please check out his web site here where you'll be able to view lots of information about roses, see pictures of his beautiful garden, check out his lecture schedule, and more.

The cowboy hat is a bird house and the boots is a planter for roses. So inventive!

This is bird house that was built by Irwin. It's practically a mansion for feathered friends!

The Rose Man Nursery & Emporium
5 Eda Avenue
Carver, MA 02330

Phone: 508-866-3311
Fax: 508-866-3311 *Please call first*

Email: theroseman@operamail.com

Web Site: www.therosemannursery.com


Miss Daisy said...

What a tragic yet inspiring story! And it looks like he created an oasis of beauty and discovered talent buried beneath. He sounds like a wonderful man and his property is wonderful! Thanks for sharing this inspiring story.

Mildred said...

Hi Jackie, What an inspirational story and how special that you got to meet him and tour his property. Thank you for the links; I will definitely be checking them out.

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

What an interesting story! It really is amazing what people do when they have something unexpected happen in their lives. I'd love to be able to see his nursery in person. I love the Wizard of Oz garden.

Mary Delle said...

What an inspiring photo. He has really remade his life!

sweet bay said...

Talk about making lemonade when life hands you a lemon! How wonderful what he has been able to accomplish since then.

tina said...

I always enjoy learning about gardeners and their story. Even better to do it in person so I really wish I could've been in your shoes. Lovely garden. The yellow brick road of course reminds me of one of my all time favorite movies.

Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

What a great story Jackie! There are several very important things to learn in this story! And the garden is full of ideas! Thank you!

Carol said...

A sweet story ... all the pages we turn when life writes our chapters... thanks for sharing your visit!

flowergardengirl said...

what a talented man and amazing place. Love the yellow brick road and birdhouse with witch buried under it.

Stacey said...

Jackie, I really enjoyed reading about The Rose Man. It's just so neat that he turned an unfortunate incident into something good. ;)

Heather said...

What an amazing story! Talk about making lemons into lemonade. We should all be so focused on what is truly important!