Welcome to my rose page! I am an organic gardener and have been growing roses since 1995. I planted my first roses on March 11, 1995 in a 5'x8'x8" raised bed I built out of railroad timbers. I've had six hybrid teas there, but they've never thrived - early in the season I get some lovely blooms, but then the bushes look sickly. I think this is because as nearby trees leaf out, the roses just aren't getting enough sun. The creosote in the timbers can't help either.
In mid-December 1998, I started working on putting in a much larger 4'x33'x7" raised bed along my driveway. It was a lot of work excavating about 18" down, getting cedar to build a frame, and filling it with great organic material - I didn't finish till around April. The new bed has some old roses as well as a variety of hybrid teas. It is a much happier garden and in the first season several of the roses have grown taller than I! From late February through mid-May 2000, I created a new 4.5' wide by 38' long bed perpendicular to the 1999 bed, and close to the front of my yard. This bed is divided into three sub-beds, each with seven hybrid teas or floribundas.
It's not so difficult to grow roses - plant in a rich organic medium (try mixing well rotted horse manure, leaf mold, compost, earthworm castings, and lime), prune in the spring and top dress with fresh organics, consider monthly organic fertilization in season, and pay a bit of attention to pruning in the winter (once dormant to keep winter wind damage down) and early spring (to encourage break from dormancy). Roses do get some disease, so try a simple organic spray program in season to keep diseases in check. I put together in mid-1998 an Organic Rose Gardening presentation that gives more detailed suggestions. I also have a page that describes how to plant roses, and in March 2001, I've started to work on a page about pruning.
It's fun to meet fellow gardeners - consider joining a
local rose society.
I'm part of the
Raleigh Rose Society, which
is an American Rose Society (which I'm also
a member of) affiliate
of the Carolina Region.
There are many types of roses and their
history and genealogy
is interesting to read about (does anybody have a good reference with a
Do check out my Green Thumb Hints
page for more general gardening resources.
Check out pictures of many of the roses that I grow! You can also see hundreds of my pictures of rose shows, rose gardens, and much more. Also, I have a set of pages at helpmefind.com, including a list of roses I grow and some pictures.
One of my very favorite roses is Double Delight. It has a strong fragrance and is bi-colored crimson and cream. (The more sun it gets, the more crimson it develops.) Here are two August 1999 shots; in the second you can see a night shot with Taboo, a near-black rose. Taboo's buds open close to black, and the bush, very prodigious and quite tall, bears deep maroon flowers. I am probably in early 2000 going to be planting Mon Cheri, hybridized from Double Delight by Jack E. Christensen.
I picked one hybrid tea, Moonstone (it used to be called Cadillac de Ville), that is an exhibition quality one. It bears lots of white roses with pink edging of great form, but no fragrance. Here you can see my Moonstone bush full of buds in July 1999.
Purple is my favorite color (I painted my house purple in late 1999!), and here you can see Big Purple and Moonstone at night (August 1999).
I have several "English" roses - roses hybridized by David Austin to combine the best of Old Roses (fragrance, disease resistance) with the best of Hybrid Teas (color variety, recurrence of bloom). Heritage, pictured here in April 1999, has lovely pink cupped flowers.
There is an interesting class of roses called Polyanthas. They are
a cross between Floribundas (which have flowers in clusters) and Miniatures.
My Mothersday, pictured here from July 1999, is a lovely red shade and
proved, along with Heritage, to get practically no disease. Its cupped
flowers have no fragrance, but they last for weeks on the plant - and years dried.
Though I primarily grow roses for their scent and beauty, I also enjoy showing them at area rose shows. Shows have a horticulural exhibit, as shown above from the May 1998 Raleigh Rose Show, and an artistic arrangements section.
In horticulture, roses are judged by class for perfection of the rose. You must exhibit only your own privately grown roses. Typically, a neutral vase is provided such as a simple glass vial or soft drink bottle.
Arrangements have a theme and a style, such as traditional (like line, line-mass, or mass), Oriental, or modern (just about anything goes!). The roses must be privately grown, but not necessarily by the arranger; I grow far fewer varieties than many in my local rose society, so I often enjoy my friends' sharing for specimens for my arrangements. While the quality of the roses are scored, that is much less critical here, where artistic creativity and conformance (does it fit in the provided niche and not touch any of the sides?) are also judged. All shows I've been to have cardboard niches that are 40" high by 32" wide by 18" deep; you'll want to choose an appropriate cloth to cover the niche. As a buying guide, fabric typically comes in 45" or 60" widths, so you'll need, to come up with (40+18)" by 32", 1 3/4 yards of 45" width or 1 yard of 60" fabric. I learned a great trick to have the fabric relatively wrinkle-free without having to iron at the show - buy stiff foam core boards cut to 40"x32" and a second one to 18"x32" and, before the show, wrap and staple the fabric to the boards. (It is not necessary to put fabric on the sides, as arrangements are judged head-on.)
Rose shows are fun! The
American Rose Society page has more
details about shows;
you can also read what
some experts have to say about growing and preparing roses to show for horticulture.
In late spring 2001, I found an excellent and comprehensive new site,
by Robert B. Martin, Jr., author of a forthcoming book about showing roses and current
chair of ARS' Horticultural Exhibitors Committee.
the theme is The Silver Screen "to honor memorable motion pictures."
I am planning a large modern arrangement
(The Three Faces of Eve, 1957; a psychiatrist treats a southern housewife with three personalities)
and a miniature modern (Vertigo, 1958; a former San Francisco detective who dreads heights
falls for a woman he is hired to protect). You can see
of my design ideas; after the show I will post more information.
The overall theme for this year's arrangements was First Flight. I entered an abstract arrangement, under the theme "Invention of the Aerial Age" ("The Wright Brothers kicked off the Aerial Age with the first successful flight"), and an abstract miniature arrangement, with theme "Just a Couple of Bicycle Repairman" ("By trade the Wright Brothers were bicycle repairmen, but their dream of flying would soon be realized").
Great news - my large arrangement won best-of-show of all large arrangements, and as such I got, in addition to a blue ribbon, an ARS Artist Award ribbon, a gold ARS certificate, and a lovely commemorative blue plate! The judges liked the elegance of the driftwood and the clean arrangement. I used the lovely red 'Veteran's Honor' hybrid tea rose from my garden; on the morning of the show, I had four good blooms. I bought this lovely piece of driftwood (the picture may not clearly show the gorgeous knot in the inside of the curve) whose upward curve suggests to me "flight" (in addition to coming from the beach, where the Wright Brothers were "first in flight"). The most difficult part was building the base out of plexiglass sheets and rods; I wanted to have the wood look like it was suspended, but wanted to have a non-distracting base instead of hanging the wood. My friends Connie and Chuck Johnston were a big help in the construction, and Connie helped me to put this and the miniature arrangement together at the show.
I was happy with the concept that I came up with for the miniature. I called a clock repair store, and they supplied me with extra parts, which I thought would convey the notion in miniature of bicycle gears. My Dad again this year helped with his knot-tying to get the "gears" and wrench to hang from a lattice of wood I put on top of the niche. This arrangement had potential to be a very good one, but it was just too busy and the judges took significant points away because they felt that the roses, Gourmet Popcorn from my garden, were not fresh enough with the centers turning brown. They told me the unwritten rule that no design element in a miniature arrangement should be more than a third of the size of the niche, and as such they found the wrench to be a bit too large. They only gave my arrangement a 4th place.
I haven't finished editing the pictures, but
you can see other shots from the show,
including my Dad and me and
Connie, Chuck, and me
with the large arrangement. Also, there are
a panoramic shot of
all three large modern arrangements,
me with the four abstract miniatures,
and the entry for
best-of-show of miniature arrangements (awarded to a traditional mass design).
The overall theme for this year's arrangements was "Songs of the 70ís". I entered an abstract arrangement, under the theme "'Dream Weaver' by Gary Wright", and one abstract miniature arrangement, with theme "'Tiny Dancer' by Elton John".
I had in mind some sort of a "hanging" arrangement, and originally was thinking of having coat hanger wire sticking out of the back of the niche somehow. A week or so before the show, I was strolling open-mindedly through a craft store, and saw quilting hoops, when the idea I bore out to the "Dream Weaver" arrangement came to me. I spray painted the hoops copper color and used my pink Baronne Prévost roses with a deep navy/midnight blue background. Thanks to my Dad, who, unlike me, is good at tying knots, for helping with the suspension. I put three dowels on top of the niche (and gently secured the dowels from rolling) and my Dad tied knots which we could adjust at the show. To keep them from slipping, we put a little bit of tape onto the knots; the tape showed a little, alas. I was particularly pleased with how the arrangement came out - it was my first try at a hanging one, and I also thought that my roses were in good shape and the color and shapes all worked well. I garnered a yellow 2nd place ribbon. The judge liked the creativity of the arrangement, but for some reason had a peeve against using old roses (as opposed to hybrid teas or floribundas) in an abstract arrangement. She also wished that the tape on the knots weren't visible.
My friend Amy Barrington (and her almost-11-year-old daughter Chloe was helpful at the show, too!) helped to design the miniature arrangement. We used my Gourmet Popcorn rose, in season always in plentiful bloom. Much of the idea was hers - using a dais and somehow using springs. We got my Dad to make two strings to suspend the large spring and simply placed the roses with appropriate ad hoc water reservoirs. We won a green 3rd place. The judge took points away because one of the leaves was touching the back of the niche (not allowed). She also thought that the design elements, particularly the large spring, were too large for the scale of the roses.
Perhaps because of rain and wind, we had even less roses entered this year at the show than last year, also an off-year, and I only had just a few roses to enter. I won two blue ribbons (Basye's Purple Rose, fully-open Double Delight), one yellow third-place ribbon (for an informal rose arrangement in a vase), one white honorable-mention (Granada), and nothing for my Stephens' Big Purple and Pink Peace entries.
This year, I entered two modern arrangements - trying a miniature rose arrangement for the first time. I like the creativity and freedom of modern arrangements, but hope to try traditional ones again in the future. The overall theme was Beloved American Icons with regular arrangements for "The Rose" (traditional) and "The Statue of Liberty" (modern or abstract); this year we also had three 10-year-olds who entered as junior rosarians, and they had a designer's choice theme of "The Bald Eagle". For miniature roses, the themes were "Declaration of Independence" (traditional), "The Liberty Bell" (modern/abstract), and "The 4th of July - Independence Day" (junior rosarians - designer's choice).
It took a long time to put the first one together, and I'm indebted to my friend Kathy Marx, who helped with the concept of the cone as the statue, and who, the night before, worked with me to place the iris leaves, draped as if they are Lady Liberty's robe. I had never seen battery-powered appliances used in an arrangement, and I thought that the flashlight in the housing I painted copper, encased in the "rock", really worked well with the dark navy blue background to give the appearance of a night view in New York Harbor. The "rock" took some doing to create. I used spray foam and carved it to size and shape, then painted it with a granite-textured paint, as I did the wood base that the cone sits on. I was delighted to have a lot of my old garden rose Baronne Prévost blooming; the pictures don't do the blooms justice - they were lovely against the dark background and draped over the copper and "rock".
It was fun working with miniature roses, with a tiny niche of 9"x9"x6" (note that the pictures above are not to scale). I used a friend's Jean Kenneally, a white/apricot rose with lovely form (after the fact, I found that it is listed as a top ten mini for arrangements!) I came up with the concept quickly and put the arrangement together also in little time. The wire is just a heavy gauge coated copper wire, and it shapes and reshapes easily.
I really like how my 'Statue' came out and hoped it would be a blue- or certainly red- ribbon winner; the mini I thought was "okay" and I was pleased just to try working on this scale, but didn't expect more than an honorable mention. Surprisingly, I received a yellow (3rd) place for the 'Statue' and a green (2nd) place for the mini. The judges loved the Baronne Prévost, the theme interpretation, and the novel design, but were critical of the "heaviness" of the base materials, which they felt drew attention away from the roses. One judge also suggested that Lady Liberty's "torch" (the top left rose and buds) might have faced inward, to better use the the space. The judges liked the miniature and said that the abstract design (the wire in particular) was "outstanding", but the brass bowl - both in size and shininess - was too dominant for the space.
Perhaps I should create a page showing other folks' arrangements. In any case, you can
view a panoramic shot of
all of the 'Statue of Liberty' entries (coincidentally, placed in
order of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th) and a closeup of the
blue ribbon winner,
as well as the
blue ribbon 'The Liberty Bell', both by Terry Ellis, our rose society's past president.
Our annual Raleigh Rose Show came after a week of (sometimes very) rainy weather, and it seemed we had only about 60-70% of the roses shown as we usually do. I only had a few roses I entered in horticulture. I won three blue ribbons (Melody Parfumée spray, Mothersday, and Baronne Prévost) and one red ribbon (Heritage spray); though I thought my Stephens' Big Purple was lovely, it didn't garner a ribbon at all (I did save the best for my modern arrangement). We had a challenge class open only to Raleigh Rose Society members, and I won a yellow ribbon for a Melody Parfumée spray in class 45, "Court Jester", where you could display any rose in a container of your own and be judged for both the bloom and container.
But the great news this time for me was the arrangements, where my modern arrangement won best-of-show in large-flowered modern arrangements!! It garnered not only a blue ribbon, but also the ARS Artist Award, Gold Arrangement Certificate, and a lovely cobalt blue oval plate. My friend Renee again helped, especially with the traditional arrangement; I came up with the idea and execution for the modern, and she helped tweak the design and arrange the flowers at the show. The theme was A Tribute to the Victorian Age, with the traditional theme being Silk, Velvet, Satin and Lace, Textures of the Victorian Age, and the modern being What happened to Grandmother's Corset?. I have more information on the themes and my design ideas leading up to the show on a separate page.
I was delighted by the modern, and this was the first time I was able to use my own roses for an arrangement. Purple is my favorite color, and a Victorian theme allowed me to really use it! My Big Purple afforded me many blooms in time for the show, and, though I wish the two main blossoms on the copper tubing were larger, I am still pleased. The blossoms looked really nice against the deeper violet fabric. It was a last minute idea to add the bud into the top and the sprays into the chest; we didn't want to distract from the two main flowers, but I think it all worked, even the color of the chest, which I was initially a little unhappy with. It was fun and easy to work with the copper; I'd love to do an arrangement in the future with copper and red roses - red and copper look stunning together!
As always, we had to really rush at the show and wish we had both more time and more roses for the traditional. We used my friend Duane's large pink roses, Marijke Koopman, along with lots of rose leaves to hide the oasis, lavender and rosemary from my garden, and, to form the line itself, dried ting ting which I painted silver to match the antique silver I painted the vase. The week of rain left them a bit weathered, but usable - and we made a quick decision to deviate from the line-mass arrangements we have made in the past and do a line, requiring less flowers. We got a green ribbon (3rd prize). The judge thought that the placement of roses in the line was "quite good" but that the diagonal line itself was too straight and should have had some graceful curve to it; he suggested looking at how lines are done in Japanese arrangements. He also felt that the foliage and line material were too heavy (we don't have to worry about covering every bit of of oasis), and that the abstractness of the ting ting (it is straight but ends in a curl) detracted from the traditional design. Still, not bad for our first line arrangement!
The theme was Top 40 Hits Through the Decades and I entered a modern arrangement in a designer's choice class California Dreamin', a song by the Mamas and Papas from 1966. I didn't know for sure if I'd enter as I didn't have any good ideas, but on the night before, my friend Renee came up with the clever concept of gluing together old vinyl records. I bought old records from a thrift shop and Renee and I created and glued the sculpture together. I used light blue, light green, and navy blue spray paints to give an impression of colors of the ocean (though somebody said it is also reminiscent of the sky). At the show, I used two medium pink roses, Ruffles, from a friend, and hot glued vials onto the sculpture to accomodate them.
I was disappointed to only get honorable mention, 4th place. The judge liked
the concept, but read the entry description ("must use all fresh roses
and dried line material only") to mean that supporting line material must
be used, whereas I read it to mean that any line material used must be dried -
I had wanted a stark modern arrangement, so decided against using any line
material. Since she felt I hadn't followed the entry requirements, I lost quite
a few points. Other minor suggestions she mentioned were that the little record
distracts by being in the corner and might be better glued onto or next to the
structure, and that I could have angled the arrangement just a little bit
more for additional depth. I'm finally using up the vertical space of the niche
This year, I had the pleasure and privilege of being responsible for rose arrangement theme details for our annual rose show in Raleigh. I know that 2001 is officially the new millenium, but I chose Reflections on the New Millenium as the overall theme, anyway.
I was excited about working with PVC tubing in creating a modern arrangement for the theme Respect, Understanding, and Harmony in the New Millenium. I painted the PVC deep navy blue outside, violet inside, and a mix on the top, created a small balsa wood lattice, and hot glued water vials on the backsides. I glued this all to a wood base, so putting the arrangement together on the morning of the show literally just took minutes of putting the fabric up, centering the structure, and placing the roses. I had wanted to use deep maroon-black Taboo and white with pink edging Moonstone to convey the theme of (racial) harmony, but my Taboo didn't have good blooms at the time, so I used pink with purple splotched Dublin (from a friend's garden), along with Moonstone (actually, also from a friend). The judge liked the arrangement and found it interesting, but awarded me a second prize, suggesting that I need to use more of the vertical space of the niche.
My friend Renee and I created the traditional line-mass arrangement for the theme
Old Fashioned Love in a New Millenium. Besides a Chrysler Imperial in
my old scraggly bed, I am only now starting to grow red roses, and we wanted an antique
gold vase (which I painted) with red roses, so used a variety of reds (Kardinal -- which
I used to grow and just planted again --,
Olympiad, and Mother's Love) from rose friends. We received a fourth place; the
judge suggested more spacing amongst the roses and using the roses for more
definition to the line.
This year, by the way, we learned and used
the very helpful technique of buying foam core board (usually used
to mount pictures and available at a framing or art supply store) cut to niche
size and attaching the ironed fabric to the board. This way the cloth background
looks very professionally neat and flat, and can be attached with just two support
pins to the cardboard niche in a matter of seconds.
I didn't know about this show until a week beforehand and had very
little time to prepare. Hence, my arrangement on Speed in the spirit
of rollercoasters at Busch Gardens shown below was the ugliest arrangement
at the show! I decided to try my hand at a modern arrangement and
used material that I found at the Scrap Exchange. My friend Renee Connelly
helped me to design the concept and put much of it together the night before,
but I executed the design myself hurriedly (I didn't have much time in the morning)
with white Moonstone hybrid teas - mostly from my friend Duane
Bogenschneider's garden, but also using I think one from mine.
The judges gave it an honorable mention and liked the concept. I just
couldn't get the wires to keep the "tracks" up, and lost points for not
effectively using the entire niche, as well as for not having ironed my
I also entered a few of my roses in horticulture, but had so little time
in the morning to prepare them that I think I got one Honorable Mention
out of I believe three entries.
I worked with my friend Renee Connelly and we had to rush to put together two arrangements. I am really pleased with the traditional line-mass we put together in the theme of the movie Titanic. Later I found from the judges that when they first looked over, ours was probably going to be the blue ribbon winner. But all the arrangements were beautiful, so the judges took an hour to carefully score each one, and finally gave us a green ribbon (third place) - but said all three ribbon winning arrangements were in the high 90s on a scale of 100.
Our first modern
attempt, for the movie Dances with Wolves, could have been much better
if we had more time. Our idea was to have one of the arrangements representing
the Native American culture and the other the European one. Does it work?
This was my first and only national rose show. My friend Sue Illg helped
me to make this arrangement with theme Carolina in the Morning.
This was my first ever rose show. When you've never won a ribbon at an American Rose Society rose show, you can enter in the Novice class in horticulture (and also compete in the other classes). I was amazed that one of my roses, a large pink hybrid tea named Great Scott, not only won a blue ribbon, but of all the blues in the Novice class, it was chosen to be Best of Show, so moved to the "head table" and garnered me a beautiful crystal vase prize!
Below, you can see the arrangement that my friend Renee Connelly and I
entered. The theme was the movie Lion King and is a traditional line-mass
arrangement. We got a blue ribbon for it!
Created: November 9, 1999
Last updated: May 26, 2006