Roadside rose vendors will be retiring

PORT MAYACA — “We have 80 bushes. When they are sold we will shut down for good. We have had a good run and will miss seeing our regular customers, but it’s time to now retire from our hobby.”

Lake Okeechobee News/Chris Felker
PORT MAYACA — Passersby on U.S. 441 have noticed — and stopped for — the rose vendors’ trailer parked in their front yard for over a decade, but Five Star Florida Roses will be shutting down after this season.

With that brief announcement on their Facebook page on March 15, Judy and Rick Fox shared the news that their well-known roadside rosebush business will be no more after this season.

This came a bit before the coronavirus pandemic disrupted everyone’s life, but due to Mr. Fox’s recently having fallen ill, they decided it was time to stop running around so they could keep their fans, the rose fanciers in the area — and many who used to visit while just driving by — coming back for more bushes.

They’ve been a fixture on U.S. 441 Southeast in Martin County, just south of the Port Mayaca Lock & Dam, since around Christmastime of 2006.

Judy Fox, one half of the expert rose cultivating couple who own Five Star Florida Roses, said in a phone interview March 25 that they had temporarily put away their trailer full of rosebushes comprising a rainbow of varieties, and the plants are in a nursery.

“We still have about 70, but we haven’t been able to have them out for sale because my husband’s been sick,” she explained. “They’re in a nursery while we’re closed right now,” but it has nothing to do with the coronavirus. “Next week I might be able to open again.” They plan to stick it out until they can give all their bushes good homes.

One frequent visitor, Santi Gabino, replied to their March 15 post: “Oh, this is so terribly sad. For years we enjoyed seeing your roses on our road trips. Finally, in December … we bought two bushes, one for us and one for my mom. They have been the most beautiful roses we’ve ever owned. We live in extreme south Florida at the border to the Florida Keys. We constantly speak about when we can make the drive to buy more roses. I’m saddened to see that it will now never happen.”

What’s more, Mr. Gabino complimented them: “You have been a piece of Florida history and all that is good in regards to the American road trip, small business and hometown goodness. I wish you much health, love and happiness. God bless!

But their decision is made. “As soon as we sell out, we’ll close for good,” said Mrs. Fox. As for whether they’ll remain in the Lake O region, she said they have “no immediate plans.”

Five Star Florida Roses is still on Facebook under that name, or they’re available by phone at 561-629-6057 (Rick) or 561-254-2405 (Judy).

For the original Lake Okeechobee News profile of Five Star Florida Roses’ owners, see the edition of Jan. 2, 2019, or look it up at lakeokeechobeenews.com.

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