By The Book

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

I was in the front garden the other day when someone called out from the end of the driveway. It was Sandy Mocsan who was driving by and happened to see me there and decided to stop.

She approached me with a book in hand.

Joe Mocsan. File photo/J.T. Lewis.

Her father, Joe Mocsan, was a distinguished rose grower here in the Rose City, an accomplished yet humble gardener who did everything by the book. He passed May 31, 2003, aged 71.

But he was more than a rose grower. He was a friend in the garden, a mentor to and competitor with many, this Scribbler included.

He was known for sharing his knowledge about roses and about growing them but also for generously providing books, manuals and handbooks to others who shared his love for the rose. While still a novice, I was given a small bag of garden sulphur by Mr. Mocsan to use on my roses as a fungicide. That was Joe Mocsan, always wanting to help.

I still have copies of the Handbook for Selecting Roses, 1995, 2002 and 2004 editions that he gave to me. Mr. Mocsan always ordered several when purchasing for himself and gave them away gratis. 

The day following his death, his family called and asked me to stop by the house. They had something for me: A copy of a book, Old Roses….and how to grow them. On the cover was attached a note in Mr. Mocsan’s handwriting: Joe – Thought you might find this book informative. Joe M. It was in his plans to drop it off one day, leave it in the mailbox if he had to, but he never got the chance. So his family handed it off for him.

Now here was Sandy, 17 years later, with yet another book.

The bright red, hard-cover edition is titled: How To Grow Roses. Sandy said she was happy to give it to me, one of her father’s protégés. It had Mr. Mocsan’s initial on an inside page. Printed in 1937, it has useful tips, many photos both in colour and in black and white and helpful illustrations. 

Thinking about this later in the day, I appreciated her gesture of kindness and thoughtfulness. Why? In his own way, there again was Mr. Mocsan, garden friend, mentor and competitor still looking out for me, a rose grower.

He did it by the book.

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