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Otherwise Normal People--Inside the Obsessive and Thorny World of Competitive Rose Gardening.

Aurelia C. Scott

Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill 2007

265 pages 22.95 (U.S.)

ISBN 1-56512-464-2

This garden book, written by a master gardener and former consulting rosarian, author of articles for the New York Times, Fine Gardening, Cottage Living and Yankee, is the author's first book. While the book is an anecdotal narrative of a year in the lives of several characters in the competitive rose growing world, it provides valuable insights for all gardeners.

The author compares the "old rose" growers and "modern" rose lovers--the former zeroing in on fragrance and the sense of smell and the latter whose concern is all about looks. To the latter a bloom one half to three quarters open, high-centred, balanced with foliage, healthy, and correct to variety is only the beginning. According to the author, the "old rose" shows and growers are exuberant and happy while "modern" rose shows tend to be full of tension and A-type personalities. People whose career might consume them, often choose to grow roses for show because it is competitive and so challenging that they can slip into the process and completely forget their job for periods of time. While many exhibitors are male they range from athletic coaches and truck drivers to doctors and lawyers, and there are teams, husband/wife combinations and well known female rosarians.

The book follows growing and grooming preparations for regional and national shows, rigid demanding routines for all, especially those who have become so addicted that they grow hundreds of roses in their yards, driveways, on stands, up walls and fences and on decks. Show roses must be brought to the exact correct stage of beauty, transported in large numbers in moist cool conditions often for very long distances, tended with exacting procedures at the show location, forcing buds to open and holding back those which bloom too early. In fact, many of the rose grower techniques using 'Q-tips', knitting needles, cotton balls, manicure scissors and hair dryers are already used by our own lily and gladiola growers.

The end of the book contains classification of the genus Rosa as set out by the American Rose Society and the World Federation of Rose Societies to reflect botanical and evolutionary progress of the rose. There is also a glossary of rose classes ranging from 'Alba' to 'Tea', a glossary of rose terms and two pages of suggested books and websites for the rosarian and the rose fancier.

Stories about the long and interesting history of roses are scattered throughout the book with references to roses, native to North America, and to those brought by early settlers, as well as roses resulting from crosses between roses found in various parts of the world. Attention is given to people actively seeking out and collecting cuttings of ancient roses in old cemeteries and homesteads. Many of these have been placed in the Heritage Rose Garden in San Jose, California and in personal antique rose collections. Mel Hulse, volunteer director of the San Jose heritage garden is quoted as saying, "Roses offer everything. You can be interested in their history, the biology of how they groin in raising all of them or growing just one variety, exhibiting them, writing about them, finding them in the wild. And, of course, they are beautiful."

Preparing a Spray of Roses for Show

For all spray entries that you may have-floribundas, miniatures, climbers, hybrid teas, grandifloras, polyanthas and shrub roses, you will want to remove the center bud of each spray. This is the largest bud in the spray. By removing it early will insure that the other buds can close the hole in the center of the spray and hide the scar that is left. Look for sprays that will have at least two or more blooms open for the show. Disbudding can be done up to the day of the show, but the later it is done the more noticeable the scars will be.

Preparing for a Rose Show

About a month before your rose show you want to be out in your garden daily. This is where the "tricks of the trade" start. Hybrid tea roses and miniature roses that you want to consider for one bloom per stem entries need to have any side buds disbudded. Some varieties of roses produce more side buds than others, but those that don't need to gently have their side buds removed as soon as you can see them. By removing the side buds early gives the remaining bud lots of time to develop and it also will leave less scaring.
COPYRIGHT 2008 This material is for informational use. Views are not those of the editorial committee. Reference to commercial products is made with no discrimination intended or endorsement by The Prairie Garden.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Wershler, Frances
Publication:Prairie Garden
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jan 1, 2008
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