by Terri Clark”
I figure there are two kinds of people in this world when it comes to roses. First there are those that love roses from afar. You know the type. Happy to receive a dozen long-stemmed beauties at the office on Valentine’s Day, they walk into your garden at the height of June, when the scent of the old-fashioned Madames could literally knock you off your feet, and saunter past without the slightest recognition or comment. The second type, once bitten by the rose bug, is smitten beyond recall and must know all and sundry information about them, generally becoming obsessed with a particular type of rose, e.g. old fashioned, climbers, hybrid-teas etc.
I of course, fall into the latter category and have been head-over-heels about old fashioned roses since my inaugural visit to the Vancouver Rose Society’s annual June rose show. It was the pervading old rose scent that first beguiled me, followed by their voluptuous blooms reminiscent of the finest Redoute painting or Fantin-Latour lithograph.
I immediately signed-up to become a member of the Rose Society where like-minded rose fanatics were conveniently brought together on a monthly basis to discuss their common addiction. Like a twelve step program in reverse, these meetings imparted detailed information through lectures, slide presentations and mini-displays to entice and then assuage one’s rose addiction. One terrific advantage to membership was the ability to part-take in the special group orders for “bare root” roses (the best way to buy hard-to-find roses) from Ontario and even England. The Society Executive members were represented by the crème de la crème in Vancouver’s rose royalty - roses were in their blood and, for the most part, they were “goners”, never to be able to return to their previous lives sans roses.
All joking aside, I never met more interesting people than in those early hedonistic days of my rose youth. It was here, under the guidance of Vancouver’s elder rosarians that I was turned on to another compulsion, reading about roses.
Let me just say this. I am usually easy and generous with lending most books, but not those that I am about to mention. My all-time-favourite rose book is Classic Roses by Peter Beales. Its pages have been lovingly turned so many times I am amazed it is still in one piece. First published in 1985, it is, for me, the “definitive illustrated encyclopedia and grower’s manual of old roses, shrub roses and climbers.” This book is honest and enticing about each rose it mentions and could only have been written by a soul enchanted by a lifetime of roses.
I have never met Mr. Beales but look forward to this great pleasure in June when he will be a key speaker at the World Rose Convention being held in Vancouver, June 18 – 24th at the Westin Bayshore. I know him through his book and I am positive our common bond for old roses will make conversation easy.
Another of my indispensable rose bibles is The Graham Stuart Thomas Rose Book. An admirer of his wonderful book on perennials, it seemed a natural progression to add this to my collection livre regarding roses. I trust GST in all things horticultural and his extensive descriptions and first-hand experience do not disappoint.
For the newcomers who have only recently succumbed to the seasonal highs offered by the cultivation of roses, I hope you can still find these wonderful books in print and perhaps even for sale at the World Rose Convention or the World Rose Festival at the new Vancouver Convention & Exhibition Centre, June 19-21, 2009.
I leave the last words to Peter Beales by way of his dedication to Classic Roses.
“I dedicate this book to all those around me who have so often accepted second place to a rose, but without whom I could not have grown even a briar.” Confession of a true addict if ever I heard one!!