Today Gary and I took the motorcycle out for a visit to Galetta Rose Nurseries in the west end of Ottawa. Originally an abandoned gravel pit, the nursery has undergone a profound change in the last 20 years and is now covered in plants, trees, and grasses. There is something very peaceful about being in a sunken area surrounded by pine trees above you. There is also a lovely pond on the property, complete with a short boardwalk and bridge. It’s a very unique spot – different from any other nurseries we’ve been to in the area.

Like many of the nursery owners I’ve met over the last few weeks, this is the owner’s second career. He was previously in high-tech, and still does some consulting, but is primarily focused on the rose business. Although the nursery used to sell more than roses, it became too difficult to compete with the low-priced imports being sold at Walmart and Canadian Tire. Instead, the nursery now specializes in hardy roses. From the Galetta Nurseries web site, hardy roses “require no winter protection other than normal snow cover. If a rose has to be protected in the winter, it’s not really hardy, and I won’t sell it.” The owner jokes that it’s not a very good business model, because once his customers plant the roses, they don’t need replacing so the customer won’t be back to spend more money! Joking aside though, it’s clear that this is the place you want to go if you want quality roses that will grow in Ottawa’s harsh climate.

Galetta Rose Nurseries is open Saturday, Sunday, and holidays from 10-5, May through September. It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area (it’s easy to get to from the 417).