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Paul’s President Messages – Tinseltown Rose Society | Paul Zimmerman Roses Consulting & Design
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Paul’s President Messages – Tinseltown Rose Society

Paul F. Zimmerman
What follows are a series of President’s Messages written for The Rose Reporter, which is the newsletter for the Tinseltown Rose Society. I was President for two years, during which time these were written. I don’t claim them to be important to roses, but they are an interesting snapshot of a time.

Message #1. In which I talk about following our first President – Tommy Cairns.
Message #2. What I hope to do with the Society during my two year term.
Message #3. The Rose Spreads its Wings – The new landscape roses.
Message #4. Exhibiting Roses.
Message #5. Roses and Camaraderie.
Message #6. Why it’s important to volunteer at Public Rose Gardens.
Message #7. Welcome back from summer break.
Message #8. Rosarians and what brings us together.
Message #9. Why we should join the American Rose Society
Message #10. It’s been a year already!?
Message #11. Our Christmas Party and a new year.
Message #12. Roses and Perennials.
Message #13. We install the Beverly Hills Celebrity Rose Garden.
Message #14. Restoring The Huntington Botanical Garden Rose Study Plot.
Message #15. Organic Rose Growing.
Message #16. Preparing to break for summer.
Message #17. Back from summer and we go International.
Message #18. We do our first rose show.
Message #19. Goodbye.

Message #1

In another life, another frame of mind it’s rumored I used to do what is known as Stand-Up-Comedy. This is an unusual form of self-flagellation in which one actually thinks he, or she, can convince a room full of strangers that he, or she, is the holder of the key to their funny bone. Now while the world of comedy and the world of roses are far apart, at least as far apart as I can make them, there is one valuable lesson I am finding very useful as I begin my term as President. It is; how do you follow a really great act.

You see, I have face the double edged sword of succeeding not only our first President buy also a great President. And while I can, and do, congratulate all of us for helping make The Tinseltown Rose Society successful beyond anyone’s expectations deep down inside I am aware that Tommy with plenty of help from Luis was the gravitational force that drew everyone in. In his shadow I was given the freedom and protection to find my own voice and views. For this he has my gratitude and respect both as a President and as a person. Not many rosarians are as open to different points of view and for this we are a healthier society. Yet now I find myself in the forefront and with the spotlight comes the responsibility of knowing I must keep the momentum he built going.

Which brings me back to my stand up comedy analogy. When following a really great act there is a little trick. It’s this. Take the energy and rhythms they have created, match and continue it. In other words try to change as little as possible in what the audience perceives is occurring on stage. And this is part of my intention as your President. Tommy has embarked us on a exemplary course. I see no reason to veer the ship. This is exactly what a good stand up comedian would do. But not a great stand up comedian.

No, a great stand up comedian matches the dynamic but then slowly introduces the audience to his own energy, thoughts and rhythms, all the while allowing the echoes of the previous performer to resonate. One builds and expands on what has gone on before. This is the responsibility I feel you have placed in me by electing me your President.

As most of you know I have my own way of looking at things and tend to be very verbose about it. As Tommy has, and is, about his. And while he and I might seem to have different opinions on some things we do share one very important thing. Friendship. And with our friendship comes respect. And with that respect comes a healthy and dynamic spiritedness I feel personifies what is great about our rose society.

Yet, as I freely champion my opinions just as I always have I am also deeply aware that now even more so I must champion others. And so I shall. We are diverse individuals within a singular group. Some like to landscape with roses, some prefer to grow them by themselves. Some like Modern Roses some like Antique, or English, or Miniature. Some use chemicals, some organic. Some fuss, some let the roses grow as they will. And this year we introduce an energizing new facet to our rose society in the form of exhibiting. All these points of view have found a home in The Tinseltown Rose Society and as we build towards hosting Rose Odyssey 2000 I shall make sure they continue to do so.

In that other life and other frame of mind I used to get nervous waiting to follow that great performer. But then, as now, I feel confident once I begin. Because after all, the joy of following a virtuoso is you all ready have an enthusiastic audience.

Message #2

Great events and lots of new members to boot.

This past month the Tinseltown Rose Society board got together at Tania Norris’ house. It was set up as an informal “get our feet wet and toss about some ideas” meeting. As I said in last month’s message we are a diverse society and both Tania and I felt it would be good to get some input as to the kinds of things we as a society would like to do this year.

Our goal is to schedule a broad diversity of events to appeal to the rose grower in all of us. I feel with all the surge in new membership (almost ten at the January meeting alone!) it’s important that we all feel our particular rose interest is addressed. We are all to quick to say no one would be attracted to this or that event when the only basis we use for the statement is we would not be interested in it. It’s wrong to plan things based only on the criteria that this will appeal to the most members. Invariably members will feel left out. The balance should be between a few large events to appeal to everyone with smaller “special interest” events sprinkled in between. I feel we’ve done so.

We have two large events folks will like. This fall we will are taking Syl Arena up on his generous offer to go to Wasco to view his growing fields. Going in the fall enables us to see the fields in full bloom. Syl is a great host so this will be a wonderful trip.

This spring we are going down to the District Convention enemas. We are arranging a bus trip down to see the rose show, have a private Tinseltown dinner, do the garden tours, attend lectures, the big banquet and for the main event be entertained by our own Luis Desemaro at the same festive repast. If you have not been to a convention this is a wonderful chance to attend one in a way that will ensure you get the most out of it.

Sprinkled in are plans for a garden tour to The Huntington Garden with tea in the tea room. The Huntington is known for all their roses but boasts one of the best English Rose Collections in the country. We will try to combine this with a trip to Hortus Nursery where you can purchase many English Roses as well as perennials to plant with them. Also Descanso’s new rose garden is coming into maturity and is something many of us will want to see. Tours of member’s homes is also on our list as well as some hands on sessions on pruning, making cuttings of your favorite roses etc. If you have ideas make sure you pass them along to Tania or myself. We know this sounds like a lot but as I said above we don’t expect everyone to attend everything. Pick and choose the events you like and if 15 people show up it will be considered a success.

Now I’m going to take a moment to brag. You figure a two year old society has about reached most of the folks in the area that are interested in roses. Wrong! At Tommy’s Mordigans pruning demonstration we had a lot of people come up to us to get membership applications. As I handed them out I thought to myself, if a quarter of these people show up it will be great. Well, almost everyone showed up. To the point where the last meeting was standing room only! So a round of applause goes to all the members of Tinseltown Rose Society for creating the energy that keeps drawing them in.

Last but not least welcome to all our new members. I hope in the years to come you find a home with us here at Tinseltown. And as you quickly notice when you attend a meeting our members are very outspoken. Please do not hesitate to join right in.

Message #3

The Rose Spreads Its Wings

A quote. “One of the most distinct and wholesome effects of the spread of garden knowledge and love of flowers that has filled the land of late years is the demand for good garden Roses. By the term ‘garden Roses,’ is meant Roses for ordinary garden use,…”

Sound like something you’re hearing lately? Guess again. This was taken from the book “Roses For English Gardens” written by Gertrude Jeckyll in 1902. I’m reminded of the quote because as I leaf through the latest issue of the “American Rose” (the official publication of the American Rose Society) I can’t help but be struck by the ads now featuring “landscape roses”.

On the inside cover is a full page, full color ad for “Roses that border and landscape”. It offers “rose lovers an entirely new way of looking at their favorite flower”. On the back cover my eye is caught by an ad for “Carefree Delight” a disease tolerant perky pink rose also for the landscape. While I don’t know if I would use the term “perky pink” to describe anything, it all points towards a trend. Just as Ms. Jeckyll wished for ninety four years ago, Roses are coming out from behind the boxwoods to take their rightful place back in the general garden. And not just “landscape roses” but all roses. Including hybrid teas for those of you who think I am just writing an anti-hybrid tea message here.

This is a good thing for roses. Too many articles are written in gardening magazines about how difficult it is to grow roses; they get disease, they don’t open, they look ugly. This trend in roses that the gardener can plant and forget about will only lead others to be try them who might not have a few years ago. And they, just like us, will be bitten by the rose bug.

This is also a good thing for rose societies. A few years ago I wrote an open letter to the American Rose Society citing what I felt was a stagnation both in the society and in the way roses were being viewed and produced. While I take no credit for affecting the current trend I feel that just as the rose is opening up to new uses, so will rose societies to gardeners who’s interest is triggered by this same trend. Gardeners who in the past might not have joined a rose society.

But the past dies hard. And since this is my column I’m going to indulge in a little story. It’s about a person who went to a rose society with a new found enthusiasm triggered by the current revival of Old Garden Roses for the landscape. She arrived at the meeting bringing both enthusiasm and the gift of yet another way of growing the flower we all love. Approached by a current member she was welcomed and asked what roses she had. She mentioned several Old Garden Roses. But then something sad happened. The current member turned their nose into the air, huffed out the words, “oh, you like those roses” and turned away. The new member left, never to return; taking with her, her gift and enthusiasm.

It’s a unhappy tale isn’t it?

Message #4

Exhibiting Roses

In the next couple of months we as a society are going to embark on our first rose show. For those of you not familiar with this, rose showing is about displaying roses in predetermined categories and having them judged. The categories and the judging follows set guidelines and we are lucky enough to have two people in our midst who are among the best at it. That they are willing to share this knowledge with us only enhances our society.

Up to now I’ve not said much about rose showing primarily because I’m fairly ignorant about it. I never shown roses mainly because I enjoy the gardening aspects of our hobby and chose to pursue it in that setting. But as our society begins to include this aspect of our hobby I’d like to offer up some words.

We as rose growers owe a huge debt of gratitude to those who exhibit. The range of horticultural knowledge and products concerning rose growing is enormous. More so than for most other ornamental plants. I feel this is due in most part to the high standards of judging and the focused competition at rose shows. Exhibitors constantly strive to be the best. To do this they continually tinker with feeding, spraying and planting techniques. We as hobbyist growers all benefit from this and I tip my hat to them.

The flip side of this is one I’ve noticed during my membership in The American Rose Society. It is too easy to apply the standards used to judge exhibition roses as the standards used to judge all roses. By this I mean roses some as hobbyist/gardeners grow in the garden for their own pleasure. Petal count, stem length, form; are all words that will be added to our rose vocabulary. They are good words for a certain type of rose. The exhibition rose. They don’t necessarily apply to garden roses. There words like growth habit, fragrance, subtly of color, remontant, constant blooming come into play. Remember this as you visit other people’s gardens. A rose that is wonderful for the garden might not be good for the exhibition table and to judge it by exhibition standards is unfair to the rose and the rose grower. (I might add the same applies in reverse) Especially remember this as you interact with members who might not have as much experience growing roses as others. There is plenty to learn without having to live up to very high standards achievable only after years of experience.

I personally will not fall into the trap of saying growing roses for exhibition is superior to growing them in the garden or vice a versa. That is fractious debate and has no place in what is supposed to be a fun hobby. Growing roses for and then exhibiting them is merely another way of enjoying our hobby. Nothing more and nothing less. It is foolish for any of us to say this or that is the highest form of our hobby and while I’m President I will do my best to calm such conversation. It is discourse that can only serve to divide.

So as we begin showing roses within the Tinseltown Rose Society I plan to be right in there with encouragement and enthusiasm. Then, as we move into competing with rosarians outside of our society I’ll be there to root us on in our endeavors. I’m proud of our society, I’m proud of our members but most of all I’m proud that we all respect each other no matter how we choose to enjoy our roses.

So, let the games begin.

Message #5

For those of you who didn’t attend last month’s meeting you missed the tidal wave of enthusiasm from the folks who went down to San Diego. Person after person described the trip, what they enjoyed the most and what in their own rose enthusiasm was sparked. As I listened to their stories I was struck by several things.

The first was that even after two and half years the members of Tinseltown Rose Society are, if nothing, more enthusiastic than ever about rose growing and roses. I been in other organizations which start out with great energy but than it shortly wanes down to a hard core few. Eventually even they begin to trickle out; finding other things to occupy their time. We seem to be taking the opposite tack. I was also struck by the fact many of the stories I listened to that day were being related by new members. Some of whom have only joined just recently. Their enthusiasm is very catching and reminds me of why we started this rose society in the first place.

Not to be outdone were the original members who went. Their stories and energy matched the newcomers. I enjoyed listening to some of these original members who’ve been growing roses for a long time, yet somehow managed to find a new passion in a particular area of rose growing. A budding hybridizer comes to mind. Amongst all of this was one thing standing out in particular. Camaraderie.

This same enjoyment of camaraderie is evident at the meetings. Sure everyone comes for rose information but I secretly suspect many of us enjoy the break as much as any other moment of the meeting. That break is a chance to visit with other members, catch up on news and talk about our own rose gardens.

The Huntington trip is further proof of this. When I began planning I cautiously made 32 reservations which I quickly had to scramble to bring to a total of forty. All of the response has talked about seeing the rose garden and seeing Hortus but most of it has been about having tea together. Like San Diego the lure of the roses brings us in but the camaraderie is what I suspect we are looking forward to.

This is a part of gardening we do not talk about much but is very important. Gardeners are very social people and enjoy nothing more than spending long hours discussing this rose or that plant or this soil. Perhaps a discourse over tea on the latest water wand we found. Probably boring to the outsider but to us a wonderful way to occupy our time. I believe sharing how we garden is as important to us as gardening itself.

I have two friends who garden actively and when we get together for dinner or wine it’s always set up with, “well we need to get together”. I’ll go over to their house, they will generously pour a glass of wine and before we know it it’s off to the garden talk we go. The latest plant we found, the latest rose to bloom, the latest project being planned; are things discussed over in great detail and with much relish. To the point where Pam will ask in advance if this is going to be a social get together or a garden session.

It’s nice to be in a hobby where people are this generous with information. Where two gardeners from totally different backgrounds can come together and immediately strike up a friendship. As we ease into summer and we take a break from the meetings be sure to pick up the phone and stay in touch with each other. Just because we take a break from events is no reason to take a break from the camaraderie.

Message #6

Our recent trip to the Huntington has got me to thinking. One of the remarks I kept hearing from folks as we toured the grounds was that it would be nice if more help was available for the rose garden. Clair Martin with his limited staff does a great job but there is simply not enough of them.

Interestingly what the Huntington goes through is not unusual in regards to public rose gardens. Exposition Park serves as good example. I quite often read about how this public garden is in disrepair or how this one can’t replace a lot of bushes that have died. While this is sad enough, it’s not what I’m thinking about.

What I’m thinking about is why do we as rosarians allow this to happen? The Huntington and other public gardens are not just pretty things to look at, more importantly they are repositories for our rose history. A lot of the roses planted in these gardens are no longer in commerce and if we lose them in the public gardens we run the risk of losing them forever.

I mentioned the rose garden at exposition park earlier. It serves as a good example. Languishing in the midst of this vast rose garden are probably many wonderful varieties of Hybrid Teas no longer available and possibly thought lost forever. To compound the problem many are now unlabeled and who knows if an original plot plan exists.

So what do we as rosarians do to minimize this? Simple, volunteer. Clair Martin, and a host of other public gardens, rely heavily on volunteers to pick up the slack. For the volunteers it’s a wonderful opportunity to learn a lot about roses. With this in mind I think it would be nice if the Tinseltown Rose Society set up a volunteer group consisting of our members. Once a month we would gather together those who can make it and go to the Huntington for a few hours. To my knowledge no other rose society volunteers enemas like this.

I’m going to propose we volunteer to work in the rose study plot mainly because it needs work and most of the other volunteers prefer to be in the main garden. There are some beautiful roses back there ranging from Old Garden all the way to modern and new introductions. I’m suggesting the Saturday after the meeting as a day to go. I’ll act as coordinator and the best is to call me if you are interested. (213) 651-2427. Every month I’ll sign up those who want to go and we will see if we can set up some car pools. It’s best to plan this for the morning as the afternoons in Pasadena can get quite hot. I think if we arrive by 10 AM it should give us plenty of time before the heat sets in. If enough of you are interested in going earlier that’s fine with me. Let me know.

I hope some of you will be interested enough to at least come every now and then. I feel this is one of the things that rose societies are all about. A chance to enjoy each other’s company and learn a lot about roses and rose care. Plus you will have a chance to help care take a big piece of our rose history.

Message #7

Our Rose Society Goes Ka-Bloom!

Welcome back! I trust that all of you had a wonderful summer break and the roses are getting ready for the fall Bloom. We’ve devoted several articles in this issue to help you prepare for this. As always if you have questions make sure you catch one of us at the meeting.

While we’ve been away your trusty Tinseltown officers have not been resting. On the contrary we’ve had a busy summer starting with finding a new meeting place.

Why did we move? Because we’ve run out of room at our old location! That’s right just over two years old and we’re already bursting through the walls. Very few rose societies have ever grown at this rate so our thanks to all of you who keep coming to the meetings. Our new location besides having more space also boasts a kitchen, sure to be a popular location if I know our members. Now if I can just find the key to that wine cellar…..

A special thanks to everyone who attended the dinner honoring Tom Carruth. Once again we showed why we are such a vibrant society. During the event a roll call was made of all rose societies in attendance. When our name was read over thirty people stood up. No other rose society came close. Tom is one of the folks who has been supporting Tinseltown from the very start, so on behalf of all us congratulations again on the AARS award for “Scentimental”. We know there will be many more to come.

Speaking of Tom’s our own Tommy Cairns flew across the Atlantic recently to embark upon another major assault of the British Rose Show scene. Let me just say he came, he brought roses, he conquered all. Once again we realize how lucky we are to have him and Luis in our midst as we continue to gain in our own rose show experience.

Don’t forget to bring your blooms for the rose show. And remember folks, as much as anything else these shows within Tinseltown are learning experiences. By bringing in your roses you will learn a lot about not only showing but about roses in general. I don’t want to hear another person say, “I didn’t think my roses could compete so I didn’t bring anything”. If we don’t try we can’t learn, so get into the spirit and don’t worry about winning or losing!

We tried to plan some events for this season but if you have something you’d like to do or try please let us know. Or maybe there is something from last year you enjoyed and would like to repeat. Catch us at a meeting or give us a call.

Last but not least some of you know I started a rose nursery back in South Carolina and I’m happy to report 1,580 roses were budded up this June. At last report from Dufay all are doing well. Now we pray for rain.

As you can see it’s been a busy summer for all of us. I trust it was as well for all of you. Right now I’m looking forward to a wonderful new season with all of you. See you at the September meeting.

Message #8

A recent trip to the Illinois/Indiana district convention of the American Rose Society with Tommy and Luis was my first sojourn to a rose function out of the California area.  The time I spent there was wonderful; great hosts, great food and great company.  I realized rose growers are the same everywhere and our rose growing hobby is the common thread of our camaraderie.  A new thread is an interest in “landscape roses”.

I spoke about the David Austin English Roses (which I like to group with what I call “Landscape Roses”)  but more so about using these and all roses in the landscape.  I met several rosarians who grow some David Austin’s but the harder to find varieties are yet to be found there.  But the interest is.  This does my heart good as I feel using roses in the landscape is something we here in America are just beginning to catch on to.

The convention took place on the grounds of the Chicago Botanic Garden; a beautiful location.  Aged weeping willows gracing banks of streams, masses of fall flowers just coming into peak and a rose garden wearing it’s last bloom cycle of the year.  The highlight for me was a English Walled Garden designed by John Brookes.  Well laid out, planted and maintained it’s a showpiece for any Botanic garden.  Yet I did not see many of the English or Landscape Roses.

We are lucky here in Southern California to have The Huntington Garden with it’s collection of David Austin Roses.  Arguably the largest public collection in the country.  Also blessing us are nurseries such as Limberlost and Hortus that strive to make all the varieties available to us.

Also blessing us here is our weather.  I talked to several rose growers in Chicago who due to the severe winter lost almost one quarter of the bushes in their garden.  When one has some 200 bushes, having to replace 50 is a daunting task.  Something unheard of in our climate.  We are also blessed with a year around growing climate giving us ample time to grow our roses into their best.

Let us not forget our Tinseltown Newsletter; The Rose Reporter.  We have a lot of members in the Illinois/Indiana district who join because of the knowledge contained in these pages.  It’s flattering to have my own words quoted back to me 2000 miles away from home.

This is another thing binding rosarians together.  The desire to exchange ideas.  While the Fans of English Rose picked my brain on the varieties I picked theirs on cold hardiness, pruning techniques and winter protection.  We discussed ways of growing climbing roses in a climate that frequently freezes things back to the ground.  Using roses in the landscape particularly the cold hardy Gallicas.  Gallicas may only bloom once per year for six weeks but if your season is only 12 weeks long this does not matter.  I look forward to the fact that as my new Chicago friends continue to expand their knowledge of Landscape Roses they will continue to expand mine.

As I come away from this trip and continue to write articles for The Rose Reporter I will do so with a new sense of purpose and responsibility now fully understanding we have an international audience.  And I hope that international audience will reciprocate by sharing rose growing experiences in their climate with us.  As for my Chicago friends I’m counting on you to teach this spoiled warm weather rosarian how the Landscape Roses do in your area.

Thanks again for a truly wonderful time.

Message #9

The ARS.

Several years ago I wrote a letter to the “American Rose” the magazine that is the official publication of The American Rose Society. In the letter (which they published) I stated as a non-exhibiting, light chemical spraying, Old Garden Rose lover I felt left out by the American Rose Society. At the time the magazine and the ARS seemed to me to be touting only one kind of rose, grown for one result and dependant on an arsenal of chemical weapons that would make Saddam Hussein blush.

Fast forward to know and as I sit and read my latest issue of American Rose I am to notice the changes in the magazine and in The American Rose Society. Changes I suspect that had little do with my letter but brought about because the ARS is making a good faith effort to appeal to all kinds of rose growers. In my mind they are succeeding.

The latest issues contain articles about all kinds of roses and all kinds of ways to grow them. Consulting Rosarians are now required to attend seminars to get caught up on the latest techniques of rose care. The conventions are taking on a wider scope of interest reflected in lectures, tours and other events. I’m glad. This is the organization that ties Tinseltown to all other rose societies and it’s vibrancy will only serve to benefit all of us.

This is why I’m asking all my fellow Tinseltown members who have not already joined the American Rose Society to do so. They are making the effort to reach out to us and we need to make the effort to reach back. The dues are only $32 per year and include a subscription to the monthly magazine as well as the yearly Handbook for Selecting Roses. The magazine is on glossy paper with beautiful color photographs and lately is crammed with lot’s of good information for rose growers.

Joining the ARS is simple. Just send a check for $32 to the address below and be sure to tell them you’re a member of the Tinseltown Rose Society!

The American Rose Society
P.O. Box 30,000
Shreveport, LA. 71130-0030

Let’s see if we can become a rose society with 100% enrollment in the ARS.

Message #10

What A First Year

I’d prepared a nice President’s message about why we should all join the American Rose Society, handed it into Luis when suddenly I got a call.

“Paul, this is Luis. Why don’t you write in your President’s message about your first year?” “My first year of what?” was my foggy reply. “Your first year as President.”

Is it really a year already! I guess the fact we are holding elections next month should be my first clue but in all honestly this one slipped by me. The events of the past five years have snowballed over me like Frosty on an eating binge and now suddenly I realize I’ve been President of a Rose Society for the past year. Who would of Thunk it?

To start with I’m happy to say the rose society is in fine shape. We added a lot of new members this year, a cause very important to me. Without new members and new energy we stagnate. In our ideas and in our ways of doing things. Novice rose growers have this wonderful unfiltered way of looking at things and from this frequently come new thoughts. Our novice rose growers certainly fit this description and I’m glad you all decided to join Tinseltown Rose Society.

Everyone’s generosity towards the new printer and other projects also means a lot to all of us. It is about more than simply writing a check. It tells the Tinseltown Rose Society is giving you more than just information about growing roses.

Our new meeting place is also a hit and a necessity.  We have grown fast in our first three years and Tommy for the first two and myself for the last one are proud of this. The new meeting place was found just in the nick of time. Even now we are filling it up. Who knows what is next.

I am also proud of the diversity among us. A diversity nurtured, encouraged, and accepted by all. We are a rose society of very individual rose growers in the way we grow and view them. But no one condescends another and everyone keeps an open mind. Strengths among us are encouraged and all the rest of us learn from that person’s expertise. Not many rose societies can make a claim like this. Too many are dominated by one personality and one way of doing things. I feel everyone has a home in our society.

We’ve had some wonderful events. The San Diego Convention, The Day of Tea and Roses at the Huntington Garden, open houses at member’s gardens, the Wasco trip last fall; the list goes on and on. This year we return to the Huntington and we add Descants Gardens. A trip to Tiny Petals, Sue O’Brian’s miniature rose nursery. Wasco again next fall. Member’s gardens, The Huntington volunteer group, the celebrity rose garden in Beverly Hills, pruning demonstrations all over town, Tommy, Luis and I representing Tinseltown in Chicago a few months ago, our rose shows growing more wonderful by the month! It’s a quite a list of things we did, do and will do.

Most of all I’m proud of the camaraderie all of us find in the Tinseltown Rose Society. Yes we are rosarians, yes we love roses, yes we love good food but most of all we are all friends. One of the great joys over the last three years has been watching friendships develop and flourish among our members. People who three years ago didn’t know each other now dine together, go out together and gather together. This is what makes our society so special.

Lastly I need to thank some folks. First of all Tommy. When I took office I wrote a message about our transition. Those words still hold true today. And as Tommy now throws his hat into the ring for Vice President of the American Rose Society let him know Tinseltown Rose Society is behind him 150%. His knowledge, enthusiasm, energy, and willingness to embrace all the diverse aspects of rose growing can be the American Rose Society’s gain. Let us hope it comes to pass.

Luis Desemaro. Our treasure, our editor and our silent backbone. Enough cannot be said about what he does for this rose society. Most of you know a little but very few know the full story of what he puts into Tinseltown. Simply, thank you Luis.

Tania Norris is a godsend to me. I have a lot on my plate and Tania is always there to help me when it gets too full. Organizing the tours, buses, running the raffle, the sales table and always coming up with brilliant idea after idea she is what keeps this President going.

Our Board of Directors help with all the details so thank you Helen, Ray, Kathy, Mary Lou and Tom. All those little things that need attention and all your ideas help in so many ways.

Lastly our members. You make this fun. I will confess there are some second Sunday’s of the month when I do not feel like leaving the house after working a sixty hour week but when I get to the meeting that all fades away. I always leave energized and raring to go. It’s been an honor to be your President for the past year. Thank you.

Message #11

Our third annual Christmas Party was quite a success judging by the amount of folks who came and amount of food consumed. I don’t know what the final head count was but I suspect it was up in the sixties. The caterers were constantly present bringing Hour d-oeuvres, wine and spiced punch to members. I must say I liked doing it with catering as it gave me a chance to move more freely throughout the house and visit with everyone. Even for a vegetarian like me food was a plenty.

Tania again went all out with the decorations and the house looked fully clothed in the spirit of the Holiday Season. I secretly suspect Tania enjoyed not having to set tables for dinner if for no other reason if gave her more room to display her wonderful collection of Christmas ornaments.

We handed out some certificates to several members to recognize their many contributions to Tinseltown. Helen Richards, Kathleen Dupree for their help with the celebrity garden, refreshments during the meeting and everything else I’ve forgotten. Ray Mossier for his monthly trips to Orange County Farm Supply for fertilizers. Kay Kaplan for organizing our planting, pruning and caring of the rose garden at the West Hollywood Sheriffs station. I plan to hand out many more certificates during the year as so many of you do so much.

Tommy and Luis gave wonderful trophies to our big winners from the monthly rose shows. I was impressed by the amount of different members who won as well as how many novice rose exhibitors who collected trophies. This shows just how quickly our members have come along in rose showing. Keep up the good work!

It was my personal honor to award the American Rose Society’s Bronze Medal for outstanding service to a local rose society to Tommy Cairns. This is the highest award we as a local rose society can give to anyone and I cannot think of anyone more deserving than Tommy. His constant encouragement and expertise help make us one of the fastest growing societies in the nation. Congratulations, Tommy!

Now we look forward to 1997. Look further into this issue because we are trying to publish a calendar of events far in advance. This is to give all of you a chance to plan for the many events we will do. Look for the Huntington/Descants day of tea and roses and also look for out trip down to Sue O’Brians nursery of miniature roses. We’ll squeeze in some member’s gardens along the way and finish with a trip to Wasco in the fall.

The Huntington care group for the Old Garden Rose Study Plot continues to meet the Saturday after the meeting. Please try and come if even just to help us deadhead. There are a lot of roses back there. We are also working on some potential big news with the City of Beverly Hills so watch the newsletter for news on this.

On another front several years ago I wrote a letter to the “American Rose” the magazine that is the official publication of The American Rose Society. In the letter (which they published) I stated as a non-exhibiting, light chemical spraying, Old Garden Rose lover I felt left out by the American Rose Society. At the time the magazine and the ARS seemed to me to be touting only one kind of rose, grown for one result and dependant on an arsenal of chemical weapons that would make Saddam Hussein blush.

Fast forward to know and as I sit and read my latest issue of American Rose I am to notice the changes in the magazine and in The American Rose Society. Changes I suspect that had little do with my letter but brought about because the ARS is making a good faith effort to appeal to all kinds of rose growers. In my mind they are succeeding.

This is why I’m asking all my fellow Tinseltown members who have not already joined the American Rose Society to do so. They are making the effort to reach out to us and we need to make the effort to reach back. The dues are only $32 per year and include a subscription to the monthly magazine as well as the yearly Handbook for Selecting Roses. The magazine is on glossy paper with beautiful color photographs and lately is crammed with lot’s of good information for rose growers.

Joining the ARS is simple. Just send a check for $32 to the address below and be sure to tell them you’re a member of the Tinseltown Rose Society!

The American Rose Society
P.O. Box 30,000
Shreveport, LA. 71130-0030

Let’s see if we can become a rose society with 100% enrollment in the ARS.

Message #12

Roses and Other Plants

Something I am frequently asked is, “is it okay to grow other plants among my roses?”. I can understand why this question comes my way as I make no bones about growing all kinds of plants in my garden – not only roses. What puzzles me is why this question needs to be asked in the first place.

I have yet to discover exactly when someone decided roses should no longer be mixed with other plants. (I do know that person should be flogged with a wide variety of plant material) William Robinson in his book “The English Flower Garden” complains, “There is a great loss to the flower garden from the usual way of growing the Rose as a thing apart,… The Rose is not only ‘decorative’ but is the queen of all decorative plants… The outcome of it all is that the Rose must go back to the flower garden – its true place, not only for its own sake, but to save the garden from ugliness.” He was lamenting this back as early as 1838. Luckily Gertrude Jeckyll came along with the cottage garden and the rose found its way back into amongst the other plants.

But it didn’t catch on. Others tried. Graham Stuart Thomas planted the garden at Mottisfont Abbey with a riot of perennials mixed in amongst the roses. Vita Sackville West did the same at Sissinghurst. Fast forward to today and David Austin introduces “English Roses” which are roses meant to be used in the landscape with other plants. The precedent for plants with roses is there yet we still resist doing so.

Even the way we speak seems to preclude this from being done. “You shouldn’t mix roses with other plants. Wait a minute! Aren’t they all plants!? When did the rose move into it’s own group. The Animal Kingdom, The Plant Kingdom, The Rose Kingdom? I think not. Roses are plants the same as foxglove, as a delphinium, as a baptisia and so on. And as all plants mix well so do roses mix well with all plants.

An issue frequently raised is that other plants will compete with the roses for fertilizers and nutrients. If this is the case then no plant should be planted with another plant and our gardens should consist of an azalea over there with a camellia close, but not too close, by and a few impatiens planted at least two feet apart on center.  This is a look I suspect no one wants in their own landscape.

“The other plants will cut off air circulation increasing the chance of the roses getting disease.” True but only if you let the plants grow wild something any decent gardener won’t let happen in the first place. Any flower garden requires maintenance and one of the jobs is to make sure the plants are not crowding each other out.

My point in writing this is I suspect many of you would get that much more enjoyment out of your roses and your garden if you began to incorporate all kinds of plants into your garden. I love putting together different combinations of textures and colors in the garden – something I would not be able to do if I grew only roses. There is also the factor of constant surprise throughout the year as I have many plants that emerge only at certain times. Lastly some rose blooms are just that much more magnificent when set off against the flowers of a companion plant.

So this year as you begin to re-plant parts of the rose garden think about adding in a few other plants. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, experiment with different combinations, look at pictures and copy what you like. Most of all have fun with your roses and let your imagination run wild. After all, isn’t that why we garden in the first place?

Message 13

As most of you now know the rose garden in Beverly Hills on Santa Monica boulevard has been totally replanted. This was a combined effort of Tinseltown Rose Society, The City Of Beverly Hills and Weeks Roses. We also replanted two of the rose beds in Will Rogers Park with the help of Jackson Perkins and Nor East Miniature Roses. All in all it was a huge project and I’d like to take a moment to say thank you to some of the folks who made it happen.

We began talking about re-planting the garden on Santa Monica boulevard almost two years ago. As with anything of this size plans have to be made, funds obtained and donations arranged. The City Of Beverly Hills this year began restoring many of their parks and when we got a call from the Parks Department we were able to jump on it.

Bob Chavez is our contact at the Parks Department and he has been wonderful to work with. Bureaucracy can sometimes be tricky but Bob made sure everything worked smoothly.

The varieties for the garden took some time to work out but we knew we wanted to make the centerpiece the two new roses George Burns and Gracie Allen. It seems appropriate these two great entertainers should be the focal point of a newly renovated rose garden in Beverly Hills. This is where Tom Carruth comes in. Tom as many of your know works for Weeks Roses as a hybridizer and is a great friend of the Tinseltown Rose Society. When contacted he immediately said he did not feel it would be a problem to arrange for the bushes and personally volunteered to select the varieties with an eye towards disease resistance, constant bloom and color. With in weeks over 500 rose bushes were on their way to Beverly Hills Rose Garden. Thank you ,Tom.

The newly renovated Will Rogers Park on Sunset and Canon is also the recipient of several donations of new roses. We’d like to thank John Walden and the folks at Jackson Perkins for their generous donation of roses. Also a bed of miniature roses donated by Nor East Miniature Roses through the efforts of John Seville and Ann Hooper. Thanks to all of you for helping Tinseltown re-do these wonderful rose gardens.

Last but not least I’d like to single out some folks from Tinseltown. Tania Norris who began going with me and by herself to meetings of the Parks Department these two years ago. Our Tinseltown Board of Directors for supporting our efforts and our members for being excited about the project. It happened quickly so I think many of you are just becoming aware of all the activity.

The person I’d like to most thank from Tinseltown is Tommy Cairns. He is the one who contacted all the growers, gave Beverly Hills instructions on how to prepare the soil and oversaw the project for Tinseltown. These kind of projects are exactly what Tinseltown and the American Rose Society are all about. They bring the awareness of roses and rose growing to the general public and the fact Tommy could arrange for the donation and planting of well over 600 rose bushes in so short a time is a testament to his leadership skills. Thank you, Tommy.

Lastly I’m happy about the whole project because of what it means for the Tinseltown Rose Society. We are no longer a “new” rose society just getting our feet wet. With these new public rose gardens we’ve gone big time and it makes me feel good. Contributing back to the community we live and work in is just another way the Tinseltown Rose Society is beginning to become a rose society to be reckoned with!

Message 14

We are now into our fifth month of working in the Huntington Old Garden Rose Study Plot and I’m happy to report our numbers are growing every month. The first time we went out myself and 3 brave souls came out — the latter trio not knowing what to expect. I knew what we were in for having worked back there before. As I also own a lot of Old Garden Roses I also knew just how BIG they can become. In spite of a short downpour all elected to stay and with in a short time we were off and pruning.

Years of untouched neglect began to slowly come off the long unkempt roses. We began with the Chinas because they are the most forgiving. After a few hours, backs beginning to get sore we stood to survey the work. Two whole rows of roses now free of dead, cluttering old wood, standing refreshed and green.

The next month saw the same trio plus a few more. The excitement for the returning group was in seeing the roses pruned last month — how quickly they respond to a little tender loving care. The two rows of roses now wore new leaves with many of them all ready back in flower. With enthusiasm the volunteers plunged into the rest of the garden. Now five months later we are through more than half of the Study Plot and the roses pruned last fall are bursting forth with new buds, growth and canes.

I ran into Clair Martin at Hortus nursery recently and he made a point of telling me how pleased he is with the work we are doing out there. This makes me proud to be a member of our rose society. To know we can take an area long neglected and with enthusiasm make it come back to life.

This is also the kind of project I like because we are combining a volunteer spirit with something educational — for amateur and experienced rose grower alike. Many of you ask me how to prune the Old Garden Roses and now with a little time one Saturday a month everyone can learn. The constant questions I get as we work of what is this rose, how long does it bloom, where can I get it? — Make the day more enjoyable for me. I like these roses, I like the study plot and I enjoy teaching others about them.

I realize 8:30 on a Saturday morning in Pasadena comes around early but I think if more of you come out will be in for an enjoyable day. The group now out there is fun, we all have a good time and I plan to start teaching everyone how to take cuttings and bud roses. As the roses grow we’ll learn how to peg roses, how to pillar them, make teepees for them – all the little tricks that make Old Garden Roses perform to their fullest.

To my ever expanding group of volunteers I would like to say thank you for coming out and working so hard. I do this for a living and it’s hard sometimes to drag myself out of bed yet another early morning and do it for free but your enthusiasm makes it all worthwhile. To those of you who have not made it out but are thinking about please do so. Even if to do nothing but deadhead because with all the pruning going long there are going to be a lot of roses bound to need it.

Message #15

Roses au’ Natural

There has been much talk lately about organic rose growing vs. chemicals. Does it work? How much harm do chemicals do to the environment? What do I do if I want my roses to be perfect but not harm the localized micro-environment I am creating?

I may have stirred up a little of this in the last issue when I wrote about “Rose Defense” the new product from Green Light based on Neem Oil. I said I did not feel it worked and then went on to point out that I had a far better affect with a logical recommended dose spraying of funginex and orthene over a three week period. What I did not make clear and what I want to address is I am not saying give up on organics completely.

Yet as someone who has raised roses organically for about two and a half years now I need to make one thing clear up front. Going organic entails being willing to live with some damage due to insects and disease. There is no other choice. You are not going to get show quality foliage with only organics. (Exactly why “show foliage” has to be perfect when nothing in nature is, is another issue not to be opened…. yet.)

Do organics work? If you grow roses in the yard for landscape purposes, mixed in with other plants and enjoy bringing blooms into the house upon occasion, yes. Organics can help keep disease under control to levels where the plants still look good in a garden setting.

A good organic program is more about prevention than anything. Healthy plants are the best place to start. Like any living thing a healthy plant can ward off disease better than a stressed one. Stress can be created simply by a bad watering program, poor dirt, no fertilizer, lack of sun. We’ve written articles in the past about infrequent deep watering as opposed to frequent shallow watering. Trust me, it makes a difference. Many a time I walk into a new client’s yard of sick looking roses and with a change of the irrigation timer and a once a week deep water the change is almost overnight.

Anticipate pests and fungus by observing the time of year and the weather conditions. Spring is aphid season. Upon first sighting release lady bugs, spray with insecticidal soap, put up bird feeders to bring birds into the yard. Cool moist nights? Mildew is not far behind. Spray the Dr Tommy formula of 1 tbs per gallon of water of baking soda, white vinegar, canola oil and safer’s soap before you see it. Coming into the fall rust season? Clean out the center of your bushes to keep the air circulation up. Spider mite season? Begin blasting the undersides of the leaves with water before they settle in.

If you don’t mind combining chemicals and organic (and I don’t) begin practicing Integrated Pest Management (IPM). The theory is simple. Start with organics and only escalate into chemicals when things begin to get out of control. The theory also works in reverse. For example in the spring when mildew is not long in coming do a couple sprayings of Funginex 10 days apart. Then back off. This will enable the bushes to build up some immunity early and then coast along on the organics. If the mildew gets out of hand do a couple sprayings of funginex again to get it back under control.

I don’t want to start preaching to everyone about the best way to grow their roses. It’s a personal choice and I feel it’s best left at that. I do feel that those of us who do grow mostly organic should keep the pressure on the manufacturers of sprays to give us products that fill our need. This is why I applaud the introduction of “Rose Defense”. I wish it worked better but at least the Green Light company is trying. Perhaps with some re-tooling they will get it right.

Message #16

As we prepare to pause for the summer I thought I’d pen a few words on the busy spring we have all had.  First this is one of the best springs I can remember.  We had good heavy rains in the winter to help flush out the soil in the beds.  February dawned crisp and clear with none of the gloomy weather that brings in the rust and the mildew.  The weather continued into March when the blooms began to open up.  The cool weather kept the colors strong and the blooms on the stems for a long time.  Our first major rose show of the season was a reflection of this great bloom cycle.  The quantity and quality of the flowers was definite proof of not only a great spring but also that our members are starting to become good rose horticulturists.

The continued enthusiasm all of you show at the meetings in terms of wanting to learn about growing roses is very exciting to me.  I notice that while the questions continue to flow the complexity of them is on the rise.  It’s as though all of you have absorbed the basics in terms of feeding, fungus and pests and are now interested in the details.  Details such as how to get the most bloom out of your Old Garden Roses hence questions on pegging, pillaring and tying climbing roses.  An increasing interest in gardening more organically.  This is also good because as insect populations continue to dwindle in our over sprayed agricultural environment the home garden is rapidly becoming one of the last refuges for the creatures that are so important to the plants we love so much.  The questions I constantly get on growing roses in the landscape do my heart good.  It’s showing that we are all starting to look at roses as they should be looked at – in the garden amongst the other plants where they belong.

The interest in learning about growing roses is carried into events such as the Huntington volunteer group, attendance at pruning demonstrations, the turnout at the West Hollywood Sheriff’s station rose garden and the excitement about the prospect of pruning the new Beverly Hills rose garden en masse come this winter.  The best way to learn about roses is hands on and your willingness to do so is another indication of what a dynamic society we have.  Makes me proud.

Looking forward to the future we are planning our first rose show this fall.  Under Tommy and Luis’ guidance.

Message #17

While We Were Out

Phew! What a summer it’s been for the Tinseltown Rose Society. You would think that after such a busy spring we would all take the summer off and use it as a chance to regroup but this was not to be.

First the big news. As some of you already know our own Tommy Cairns won the election for Vice President of the American Rose Society! We here at Tinseltown are all very, very excited both for Tommy and for the American Rose Society. While we will certainly feel a little jealous about having to share him, it is with our full support that we send him off to Shreveport to be installed in October. Congratulations, Tommy!

The Tinseltown Rose Society went International this summer with several tours abroad. Some of us attended the 7th annual International Heritage Rose Conference in Cambridge, England the first week of July. As those of you who watched Wimbledon this year know near record rains fell but still the conference went off without a hitch. Three days of lectures followed by two days of garden tours gave all of us Old Garden Rose Lovers a very satisfying week.

Another group from Tinseltown attended the Ben-a-Lux convention in Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg. From the reports I get back from those who went it sounds like a grand time. Beautiful gardens, a very successful rose show and tasty banquets.

I know some of you went over on your own and I am looking forward to hearing all about it when we meet again in September. We are trying to arrange a slide show where we can all donate a few minutes to show scenes from Tinseltown abroad.

On our home front Tania Norris graciously represented Tinseltown during the formal dedication of the Beverly Hills Rose Garden on Santa Monica Blvd. Tommy and I were out of town and we thank Tania for filling in for us. The Rose Garden continues to thrive and we hope to use it this year for a giant pruning demonstration. The Celebrity Rose Garden also continues to bloom and the signs with the “stars” names are now in. Go by and take a look before the September meeting.

September brings about a resumption of the meetings and a host of other activities. For starters the Huntington Group will start up again in September. It’s been a few months since we’ve been there and I shudder to think what the passion vines look like but get in there we will. December will be time to prune so those of you want to learn how to prune Old Garden Roses should make plans to join us.

We are going to hold our first “open to the public” rose show this fall and we will need a lot of volunteers so be sure to sign up. We here at Tinseltown like to do things first class and I want this inaugural rose show to be a real winner. If we all put our customary energy into it I know it will be. On a rose show type note Tommy informs me Alice Hart went to the Royal National Rose Show in England and walked away with a number of prizes including several firsts. Her biggest prize was in winning the amateur division. Way to go, Alice!

What all this points to is just how far this rose society has come in a short three and a half years. From our first meeting where we wondered just how many people would show up to now taking Tinseltown all over the world. I can’t wait to see where we will go from here.

Message #18

It’s Show Time!

This month Tinseltown embarks on quite an endeavor: our first rose show that is open to everyone. Most rose societies consider this first rose show to be a milestone in the history of the group. Sort of like saying we’ve arrived. I prefer to see it differently. In my mind Tinseltown arrived a long time ago and the show is another part of our evolution as an all-encompassing rose society.

I make no bones about the fact I feel rose societies need to appeal to all types of rose growers to be successful. Stack the deck too much in one way or another and you merely end up alienating an individual who has something unique of their own to add. While I’ve been President of Tinseltown I tried to be sure this kind of attitude does not permeate our society. And to the credit of all of our members it hasn’t.

This is why I am so proud of the way we are doing this rose show. Peruse the rules and you will notice that all the classes are present for everyone to enter. But look a little further and you will find two special classes I feel speak volumes about our rose society.

One is the amateur division. This is open to anyone who has not won a trophy at an ARS rose show. I like this one because it speaks to the amateurs and it addresses the very important idea that we as a rose society must continue to appeal to novice rose growers if we are to continue to expand. Not only continue to expand but also to fully realize what we at Tinseltown are truly trying to do. Promote the hobby of rose growing in ALL of its facets. Rose shows are intimidating. An amateur division gives the novice exhibitor/rose grower a place to get their feet wet without having to compete against exhibitors who have been doing this a long time.

The other class I like is the class for “members of The Tinseltown Rose Society who regularly attend the monthly meetings”. It refers back to what I spoke of above. We have a lot of new rose growers in Tinseltown who might like to try their hand in a rose on a small basis. This is the perfect class for you. All of you who attend the monthly meetings are friends so consider this a rose show among people you already know and like. No pressure, you’ll learn something and get a chance to get involved in a full scale rose show.

I encourage all our members interested in exhibiting to enter something in one or both of these two classes. Not only that but I also encourage you to also enter some roses in the open classes. We here at Tinseltown spend a lot of time learning about care of roses. Many of you know a lot more than you think and all of you grow far better roses than you think. So stick some extra blooms in the vase, walk around and eyeball the competition in open classes and see if you don’t think you can do as well as most of them. But above all remember a rose show’s first and foremost purpose is to promote the joy of growing roses. Keep this in mind and no matter win or lose you’ll have a lot of fun. And please, no wagering.

Message #19

Just two fast years ago I was sitting here contemplating my first President’s message and now suddenly I find myself doing the same for my last. I recently went over that first message and found myself pleased about the road we’ve traveled these past two years.

In that message I talked about continuing Tommy’s direction and then slowly introducing some of my views and thoughts into the rose society. I feel we’ve accomplished this. In the past two years we’ve planted a celebrity garden and the garden along Santa Monica. We’ve begun to restore the Huntington Old Garden Rose Study Plot, taken tours of it, Descants and other rose gardens. Our own member’s gardens have continued to grow and flourish as we’ve all gained confidence in what we do. We took baby steps with out first rose shows a year ago and then firmly strode center stage with our big show just this past month. The tireless effort of Tommy, Luis and everyone who helped with the show coupled with Cora Muirhead’s wonderful promotion gave us a turnout far beyond our expectations. And most important to me we’ve never lost site of our new members by continuing to feature Eve Jones’ novice columns, pruning demonstrations, question and answer sessions and everything else we can think of to keep our novice rose growers enthusiastic. That membership has continued to grow with some twelve new members at the rose show alone!

All in all if I may allow myself a little pat on the back I feel I have continued and expanded on Tommy’s energy and direction and I leave a very vibrant rose society. But I also would like to acknowledge a lot of people who have helped.

First Tania Norris. From Vice President to coordinator of everything she is asked to do to just plain an ear to bend I could not have done this without her. No way, no how. The board: Ray, Helen, Kathy, Tom and Mary Lou – I suspect our board meetings were more of an excuse to eat but then sooner or later everything at Tinseltown comes down to that anyway so I suppose it’s good it starts at the top.

My gang at the Huntington who met on many a early Saturday to pull weeds out of long neglected Old Garden Roses. Hard work but worth the effort to watch those roses come back to life.

Luis, hard to find the space to say what needs to be said. Being President of a great rose society is real easy when the editor of the bulletin keeps bringing home the gold. Besides he makes great cucumber sandwiches. Thanks also for bringing all those mini roses to the raffles.

Last but not least Dr. Tommy. He has graciously stepped back and let me run the society my way. And what happened is what I hoped for all along. Two divergent viewpoints co-existing beautifully. The beneficiaries are you the members in that you get a rose society that is greater than the sum of its parts. Tommy as always I thank you for everything you’ve done for me in the five short years since I pulled into your driveway and asked you to teach me about growing roses and you proceeded to change my life.

I talked in that first message about being a stand-up comedian way back in another part of my life. It’s a life I chose to leave for something better and this is what you the members Tinseltown have been a part of and it is this I will always treasure. Thank you for letting me have the honor of being your President these past two years.