The Benedictine Sisters of the nearby Holy Name Monasteryhave more in common with Lake Jovita than just a history along its shores. Parishioner, Lake Jovita resident, and rose aficionado Fred Hanson felt the Sisters would appreciate having fresh roses to adorn their beautiful new facility, so he planted a dozen bushes, which he faithfully maintains and nurtures.
“When I took over their rose garden, it was mostly sticks and pretty much dead,” said Fred. “I replanted it, and now care for their garden, which is quite prolific.”
This comes as little surprise to Fred’s neighbors along Americana Avenue. At his home he has over 200 rose bushes, including highly prized and fragrant varieties such as Mr. Lincoln and Double Delight. In March, he treated Lake Jovita residents to tour his garden, which had 4,000 roses in the bud stage and 2,000 in bloom at the time.
“People said, ‘You can’t grow roses in Florida.’ I said, ‘Watch me,’” chuckled Fred.
Originally from Wisconsin, Fred graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in agriculture. He then got his master’s from Pepperdine University. The plan was to become a county agricultural agent, but he joined the U.S. Army in 1961 and remained there until he retired from the military in 1981. Now he has the space, the time, and the passion to grow some of the most exquisite roses around. Plus, he shares his bounty not only with the Sisters, but with hospice patients as well.
“Roses to me are like shoes are to a woman,” said Fred. “She gets one pair and she wants 100 pairs. I can never have too many roses.”