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Lessons from “the rose man”

AS WE CELEBRATE the 75th anniversary of Kentucky Living this year, I am enjoying the opportunity to look back at stories from years past. Roy Graff, who was 75 years old when we featured him in the May 1981 issue of Rural Kentuckian, as the magazine was then called. Graff, who passed away in 1999, grew more than 700 roses at his home near Morganfield. Union County Public Library genealogist Barbara Jean Franks, who grew up attending church with Roy and his wife, Florence, says she always knew him as “the rose man.” 

“I have about 10 roses for every year of my age,” Graff told then-editor Gary Luhr, “and I’m going to add 10 a year until I have 1,000.” 

This issue continues Kentucky Living’s long tradition of gardening stories with a handy guide to growing fruits, vegetables and herbs, a feature on several of our state’s beautiful cut flower farms and a look back on additional gardening topics from our archives. 

Reading these articles, I’m reminded just how much knowledge is involved in gardening. There are various soil types to contend with. There are insects and pests to account for. Some plants grow well together and others should be kept apart. And, as always, weather can frustrate the best-laid plans. Here’s my point: Gardeners don’t rely on general knowledge alone. They also understand their local situation. 

Gardening isn’t the only job that requires local knowledge. Electric cooperatives take pride in understanding the unique characteristics of the communities they serve. Co-ops belong to and are led by you, their consumer-members. Decisions are made by board members you elect. 

Like a good gardener, your electric cooperative understands local conditions in a way that out-of-state interests simply can’t. As we all enjoy the coming of spring, I’ll be thinking about Roy Graff, the “rose man,” and all the local stories that make our communities unique.

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