WEST RICHLAND -- Growing up, Jim Campbell swore he never would succumb to his father's obsession with roses.
Yet now, a few decades later, most days you will find him and his wife, Dorothy, working in their West Richland garden surrounded by almost 300 of his prickly nemesises.
Jim Campbell's journey down the garden path from rabid dislike to avid rosarian was as thorny as the plants he tenderly cares for today.
"My dad was really a nutcase for roses. He probably had five, six hundred of them and loved to go to shows," he said. "I swore I'd never have anything to do with them; then I married."
"Dad knew better than to talk roses with me, but Dorothy, he completely converted her into a rose lover. And when we moved to the Tri-Cities in the mid-1960s, she met Vina (Hudson) and Leona (Mattison) and before I knew it we were both hooked," he said.
Hudson and Mattison, both deceased, were longtime members of the Tri-City Rose Society. The rose garden in Lawrence Scott Park off Canal Drive in Kennewick is dedicated to them.
"It was funny how he came around," said Dorothy Campbell. "Jim always said, 'You can have roses if you want, but I will never, ever, help with them.' I said, 'Fine, leave me alone.' "
Plant by plant, Dorothy kept adding roses to the garden. Soon Jim was out there with her, helping.
"He'd say, 'You're not doing this or that right, let me show you how to do it.' Now he's back to doing most of the work. He prunes, and I pick them," she said, laughing.
Even though the Campbells are experienced rosarians, they still have to work at coaxing show quality blooms.
"It's not easy being a rose gardener in the Tri-Cities. You have to work at it. I chuckle at those who try to pass raising roses off as a piece of cake," Jim said.
Roses naturally like a cooler, marine climate. Anyone who's seen the rose gardens in Portland will agree they're spectacular.
He said the biggest mistake growers in the Tri-Cities make is not watering enough.
"Roses need lots to drink -- in July and August in particular," Jim said.
And to keep them blooming all summer, get out and remove all the spent blooms. Otherwise they will turn into rose hips and seed pods, and the rose will stop putting out buds and prepare for fall.
"Growing roses is a gratifying hobby, a good one to grow old with even though it can get difficult physically. Just cut back on the number in your garden so you're tending fewer in your senior years," Jim said.
"We keep saying it's time to do that, but we never do it," he joked.