Along with their rose gardens, husband-and-wife Shaw Nguyen (left) and Theresa Pham cultivate tea services and other events at Life in Rose Farm. Photos by Theresa Pham

Marveling at the sprawling, vibrant rose buds that populate Life in Rose Farm in Magnolia, it’s hard to believe owners Theresa Pham and Shaw Nguyen have only been growing roses for three years. And though the view at this idyllic 27-acre cut-rose farm could convince anyone to retreat from Houston city life, Pham originally needed some persuading—in the shape of roses.

“I’m a city girl and I don’t like all the unkempt land in the country, but Shaw came prepared and said, ‘You love roses, don’t you?,’” Pham says, describing the moment her husband enticed her to relocate the family out to the country—something Nguyen had been itching to do.

Knowing he wouldn’t easily take no for an answer and that the couple always thrived in the midst of a challenge, Pham agreed to look at some properties with her husband: “That’s how we are. We make decisions fast, we dive in, and we have faith it’ll work out.’”

And dive in—well, more like dig in—they did. Within a span of a month and a half after that conversation, the couple and their two children moved out to a Magnolia farm, near Old Town Magnolia off State Highway 99, complete with tall, mature pine, pecan, oak, and maple trees and a water well. Pham put her fashion design business on hold, and Shaw left his IT position earlier this year to focus on running the farm, and though the fruitful results are evident in their 6,000-plus rose plants, the labor and learning involved wasn’t always easy.

More than 6,000 roses grow on the 27 acres of Life in Rose Farm. Photo by Theresa Pham

Stop and smell the roses at these other rose destinations in Texas.

Tyler Municipal Rose Garden
Tyler, which hosts the annual Texas Rose Festival in October, is perhaps the most famous Texas destination for rose-viewing. The city’s 14-acre Municipal Rose Garden is home to hundreds of varieties and a peaceful space for taking walks.

El Paso Municipal Rose Gardens
El Paso boasts an impressive rose collection at this 4-acre fertile garden in the city’s historic Manhattan Heights neighborhood. Experience countless rose blooms of varying varieties, waterfalls, and walking paths.

Antique Rose Emporium
This Brenham-based retail spot, which opened in 1983, has a gorgeous 8-acre garden center full of roses, but also other plants including wildflowers, native plants, and herbs.

The horticulture and farming education the couple lacked was picked up from “YouTube university,” as well as members of Facebook groups who bestowed the couple with advice, do’s and don’ts, and resources on how to successfully grow in the unpredictable, unrelenting Texas climate. Unlike other Texas rose destinations like Brenham’s famous Antique Rose Emporium nursery, which breeds, grows, and sells roses in pots, the couple roots their fragrant flowers into the earth, a decision that presents its fair share of obstacles and stresses.

“It’s a huge challenge because not only are there a lot of pests and diseases you already have to worry about, but here in the South [Gulf Coast region], it’s also super humid, and roses need water and drainage to thrive,” Pham says. “You aren’t immediately set up for success.”

The couple came prepared to work. Between the two of them, with a day laborer involved from time to time, they built tall, plastic-wrapped hoop houses to protect the plants from hazardous weather conditions, sustain warmer temps, and keep overhead water off the buds. They built raised flower beds to help with moisture control and drainage. The couple also enlisted plant experts like David Pratt, territory manager of Star Roses and Plants, to advise them on things like pests and disease control and how best to succeed in a challenging industry.

“When [Theresa] said she was leaving the corporate world to do this, I was wondering if she really knew what she was getting herself into,” Pratt says. “You’ve got the cold, the heat, the wind, insects, disease, and that’s a very different way to spend your day than meetings, presentations, emails, and spreadsheets. But I’ve been to their farm on several occasions, and it’s amazing to me what she and Shaw have done in such a short period of time.”

Still, the couple’s growing experience has been far from seamless. Once, a deer came through and ate a bounty of rose buds, which led to them building a fence and their adoption of three white fluffy farm dogs: Timber, Pascal, and Potter. The 2021 freeze had the couple working around the clock to keep their roses alive, which they did. Though the farm utilizes pesticides and hasn’t encountered rose rosette, a lethal disease brought in by mites that can wipe out a whole crop, the fear of the virus never strays far from their minds.

After years of cultivating their European roses, known for their strong fragrance and cupped blooms, Pham and Nguyen are now reaping the fruits of their labor. “Seeing our roses not only survive this hot and humid climate but thrive within it gives us reassurance that our blood, sweat, and tears certainly wasn’t all for nothing,” Pham says.

What began as a farm that sold and shipped cut flowers and bouquets to consumers and florists has also now evolved into something more. Over time, the couple received requests to use their land for events, photo sessions, and even a quiet escape for the day. Heeding to the demand, Life in Rose Farm now hosts afternoon teas complete with floral arranging, as well as the occasional wedding, quinceañera, and bridal shower. But the cut-your-own-rose experiences are especially worth the trip. Spring, fall, and early winter are the best times of the year to visit, and there’s no limit to how many you can cut at $3.50 per stem.

Theresa Pham and Shaw Nguyen with their daughters at Life in Rose Farm. Photo courtesy Theresa Pham

One thing that the couple didn’t expect on this journey? That their faith in a massive life change would inspire others to have confidence to lay rose roots in their own yards. Recently, the farm began selling bare-roots from the 42 rose varieties they grow, including Earth Angel, Princess Charlene de Monaco, and Moonlight in Paris, and the home-grown success stories have already bloomed.

“We started offering [the bare roots] last fall, and it took off immediately. We almost tripled in sales just from offering that,” she says. “When people saw that these roses can do well and thrive in a place like Texas, it gave them more faith, hope, and trust that they can do the same thing.”

As for what’s to come, the rose farmers hope to increase local awareness of their business and eventually breed a rose collection of their very own. But whatever comes, the couple knows they can weather the storm, both literally and figuratively. “I feel like God gives you challenges so you can tap into this other part of your life and make more of your life, and that’s where we’re at right now,” she says. “But all the same, we are hoping for a kind winter.”

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