Friday, August 10, 2012


Earlier this morning, I sent this message to the folks on my Hartwood Roses mailing list, and I posted it to both my personal and nursery pages on Facebook.  I am publishing it here on the blog, too, to reach as many people as possible.

'Lac la Nonne' at the Fairbanks Botanical Garden

Dear Friends and Customers of Hartwood Roses,

I have written and rewritten this message many times in my head over the past few weeks … it’s probably best that I just come right out and say it … effective immediately, I will no longer be propagating roses for sale.

"Lac Majeau'

'Jens Munk'

Hartwood Roses has always been a one-woman operation.  I plant and care for the gardens, and propagate and grow all the roses in the catalog, mostly by myself.  I also present rose programs several times a year for groups and garden clubs, consult on historic roses and gardens across the country, search out and preserve roses found at abandoned home sites and in cemeteries, and work plant sales and other events throughout the year.  This has become too much for me to do, and I must make some changes.  

Unknown rose at our hotel in Talkeetna, Alaska

I have been spending a disproportionate amount of my rose gardening time and energy producing and caring for each year’s crop of new roses, while my own roses are all but ignored.  My gardens are overgrown and neglected, and this is putting much of my collection of rare roses at risk.  I cannot, in good conscience, continue to propagate and sell the same popular roses over and over when the rarest and most unusual of my roses need to be preserved and distributed to reduce the chance of their extinction.

Unknown rose in Ketchikan, Alaska.

I have already removed the online catalog from the Hartwood Roses web site.  There were not very many roses left there, because this has been a good year for sales.  I am also disconnecting the Hartwood Roses phone line … email has always been the best way to reach me anyway.

Unknown Alba rose in Ketchikan, Alaska

Everything else around here will remain the same.  I will continue to welcome visitors to the garden, especially while the roses are blooming each spring.  I hope to expand the number of rose programs I present … to continue to teach gardeners that roses are not rocket science, to show that anyone really CAN have the rose garden of their dreams.

Unknown rose in Ketchikan, Alaska.

This has been a very difficult decision, one that I have made after months of consideration.  I got into the rose business to educate people about rare roses from the past … and this is what I will be concentrating on in the future.  Hartwood Roses has been a success because of your support and encouragement ... for this, I will always be sincerely grateful.  

Thank you very, VERY much.

Connie Hilker


  1. Hi Connie,

    I completely understand your decision. While I'm sorry to hear it, you must do what is best for you and your life. I feel lucky to have been able to make at least one order from you. I hope to be able to visit your garden someday.

    Good luck in your future pursuits...and get out there and start weeding! :)

  2. Connie I understand! Sometimes we just have to change as our lives change. I am just sorry I never made that purchase from you but I will 'one of these days' get some new roses for my front garden. Thanks for sharing your lovely roses and since you are still in the 'educating' end of things we will continue to be wowed by the beauty in your gardens. Big Hugs, Linda

  3. You know how I feel about this, both sad and also excited for you to move on to other things. Just know that it is because of you that I have developed a deep and abiding love for roses!

    xo Kat

  4. Connie, some times change is necessary, and it seems you had little choice, considering your passion for the rare roses means they have to be a higher priority than propagating roses that people can buy in many other nurseries.

    -And roses are not rocket science. This Flâneur certainly grows several with no problems at all. And I probably wouldn't have had so many, had it not been for you, so please continue teaching us all about these wonderful plants.

  5. I just received your email. I'm sad I never did place an order but, how well I understand the need to make changes in your life. Happy to hear you still plan to share and educate. :)
    Wishing you all the best ~ Rebecca

  6. to everything there is a season....

  7. I'll bet the roses around your gardens are happy they will be receiving some undivided attention. I don't know how there was ever enough of you to go around!

  8. Best wishes to you in the new chapter of your life!♥♫

  9. I so understand your passion and your angst, Connie. I think each person has to chose what is most important to them and then go for it. It sounds like you have chosen a path that you first stepped onto a long time ago. Sometimes it is good to retrace our steps to our original path- Blessings- xo Diana

  10. Good for you - change is good! :-)
    I hope you keep up your blogging though - I know, selfish of me, eh? But ya gotta keep us up on the pups, and the other stuff you do!


  11. It is hard to make a decision like that, I'm proud of you ;) I'm sure I the end it will make you happier and your roses will appreciate the extra attention... Enjoy! - Susan

  12. Sounds like a good decision to refocus your energy! It takes courage to make changes! Good for you!

  13. Catching up over here ... glad to hear Daniel is feeling better. And of course, I can't wait to see all your Alaska pics!

  14. Sad here Connie, but I understand the time demands of running a business. I'm guessing you'll be spending a little more time with those grandkids now, though, so let us hope that roses don't share the sin of Envy.

  15. Change is definitely good! I have a good feeling about this for you (and who am I to say that?? but seriously, i's true.

  16. You do so much, Connie, I've been surprised at all you can accomplish! Although Hartwood Roses will be missed, I understand the need to move in a different direction. I think educating people about roses is a wonderful purpose, and one in which you already excel. Good luck on your future ventures.

  17. I am sorry your nursery is closing, you certainly have some very rare plants, but I understand the need to focus on the garden and other things you like best. Good luck!

  18. I think Diana said it very well. It seems that you are coming back to what your original vision had been. Kudos to you for having the courage to do so. I am grateful that you will refocusing your energies on preserving the rare historic roses that need saving. Your great educational skills have made it possible for others to propagate the roses found in nurseries. I'm happy you'll be back to saving the roses near extinction.

    Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage

  19. So glad I got my John Hopper in time~~ Completely understand your decision Connie and I look forward to continue learning from you- suzanne

  20. It's not WORK when it's your PASSION.
    But even our passions can overwhelm us, our time, and our lives.
    So you need to take time "to smell the roses!" (sorry ; D couldn't help myself) I say be selfish and go for it!

  21. Hi-
    I just read this post. Sorry you had to do this but I certainly understand. Making priorities is essential and it sounds like you've got more than enough to do!
    Take care and I wish your dog Daniel the best (I just read the post before this one).
    Take care,


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