Some people love to cook, do woodworking or collect things for a hobby.  Gerald Jones, of Little Cypress, likes to grow roses.

He began gardening roses about 18 years ago. His rose gardens have grown to include about 300 rose bushes of various varieties and 200 more miniature rose bushes in pots.

“It gets addictive, you want all the new ones that come out,” Jones said.

It was his brother, Mike, who got him interested in roses. Mike was a member of the Rose Society and was going to move to another location and gave his brother some of his rose bushes. From then on, he was hooked.

Jones worked as an officer with the Orange Police Department for 10 years before working as a boilermaker for 25 years. He also worked as a prison guard for the State of Texas for 10 years before his retirement in 2007. Even then, he worked on his rose gardens.

But, his wife, Kathy, said she never thought he would ever give up hunting and fishing. Jones has only had the opportunity to go fishing one time so far this year.

“I never thought he would get into roses like he has,” she said.

Jones said his love of roses and taking care of the delicate treasures is not a full time job, but a “full time hobby.”

Jones is now busy not only taking care of his many rose bushes, but also traveling to other locations for various shows where he is either a judge of National, District and local or a participant in showing roses. He also travels to get various roses to add to his collection.

When judging roses, he says he looks for the “perfect bloom.”

“To have a prize winning rose, it needs to have a needlepoint center and be a true circular pattern,” Jones said.

Judges also look at the stem and foliage, balance, substance and form.

Some people may think the rain is good for roses. But, Jones said it is not. The rain and wind can tear apart the fragile blooms.

In addition, the most common type of fungus on roses in this region is the “black spot.”

It starts on the bottom of the bush and spread to the entire bush. It can also spread to adjoining bushes.

Taking care of the roses in a year long process. In the spring he prepares the roses for the shows. During the summer months, the heat causes the roses to become smaller. By the fall he is cutting them back to start the process over.

Jones also works to take care of the flower beds.

“You need a good mulch to keep the weeds down and keep the moisture in,” Jones said.

Jones favorite mulch is simply pine needles. He finds some on local areas and fills his trailer full.

‘To grow a good rose, it has to be sprayed and use fertilizer,” Jones said.

In 2010, he won the top prize, Queen of the Show, in Shreveport.

“The roses are the queen of the show,” Jones said.

If a person wins King of the Show, that is second place, he said.

A lot of Jones’ roses are hybrid tea roses.

A hybrid tea is an informal horticultural classification for a group of roses which are created by cross-breeding two types of roses. Hybrid teas exhibit traits midway between both parents, being hardier than the often quite tender teas and more inclined to repeat-flowering. Hybrid tea flowers are well-formed with large, high-centred buds, supported by long, straight and upright stems. Each flower can grow to 8-12.5 cm wide. Hybrid teas are the world’s most popular type of rose by choice due to their color and flower form. The fact that their flowers are usually borne singly at the end of long stems, makes them popular as cut flowers.

Each bush is named after the person who performed the hybrid or someone special. Some of Jones’ hybrid teas are Key Largo, Sister Ruby, Diana Princess of Wales and Bugatti. These bushes do not have the fragrance usually associated with roses as well.

Roses sold during holidays such as Valentine’s Day are typically from Chile because of the difference in the seasons. While the U.S. is experiencing Winter, Chile has a warmer climate and able to supply the roses.

When not working on his own roses, Jones cheerfully works as a consultant so others can enjoy the beauty of what roses have to offer. At no charge, he helps others by telling them how to build a flower bed and how to get started.

As a member of the Golden Triangle Rose Society, he travels to various locations to help cut back the roses so the bushes  can continue to bloom, become more productive and be beautiful. During one recent trip, the group cut back about 20,000 rose bushes.

“Their motto is ‘Grow ‘em, Show ‘em and Shear ‘em,” Jones said with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye.

Jones will continue to work on his roses. It won’t be long before he will look for another variety of rose to add to his collection. One thing for sure, it will be colorful and beautiful for all to enjoy.

Gerald Jones has more than 300 rose bushes in his garden along with 200 more miniature roses in pots. He is pictured with one of his favorites during a warm, sunny afternoon.