Archive for the ‘Graham Thomas rose’ Category

1 The-McCartney-Rose

The McCartney Rose – Hybrid Tea, strong spice fragrance

David Austin, founder of David Austin Roses in Albrighton, England, was once quoted as saying that a rose without fragrance is only half a rose. What a perfect way to describe a characteristic so essential to the identity of America’s national floral emblem.

While the delicious, delightful, slightly mysterious and often fickle quality of floral fragrance is now considered a highly desirable trait most prized by rose lovers, it wasn’t always so. This quality was willingly sacrificed by rose breeders in the nineteenth into twentieth centuries. Why? Rose hybridizing is a game of compromise with one trait willingly forfeited to gain another. Fragrance was often the victim of hybridizing choices that placed higher value on superior floral form, unique and vibrant colors, increased winter hardiness and stronger disease resistance.

Flash forward 100 years and the rose buying public now long for highly scented roses and commercial rose growers know it. While fragrance is an inherited trait, the gene for fragrance is recessive and crossing two fragrant varieties doesn’t necessarily produce fragrant offspring. Due to this unpredictability of rose genetics, contemporary rose hybridizers continuously search for the right genetic combinations that will add fragrance to other desirable characteristics. Since it takes eight to ten years from pollination to retail introduction, restoring a characteristic as elusive as fragrance has taken decades.


American Beauty

Fragrance is produced by oils in the petals of the bloom with different oils creating distinctive fragrances. The American Rose Society lists twenty-four fragrances, the most well-known is the classic ‘rose’ scent. This intoxicating old rose or damask scent can be found in many red and pink roses like the old garden rose American Beauty, David Austin’s Mary Rose, Mr. Lincoln, and Chrysler Imperial.


Ebb Tide

Other essential oils are responsible for the spicy, clove-like scent in the floribunda Ebb Tide. Sniffing Graham Thomas yields the light and delicate tea fragrance while Julia Child imparts a strong anise or licorice scent.


Graham Thomas


Julia Child

But fragrance can be subjective because everyone’s nose is different. Two people may smell the same rose and each will offer different descriptions. Fragrance also is influenced by temperature, humidity and the rose’s stage of bloom. A fully open bloom will have more scent than a flower that is partially open; the intensity ebbs as the bloom goes by. A blossom may have a strong scent on a warm, sunny day; take the same bloom on a cool, cloudy, breezy day and the scent will be subdued.

Time of day also impacts a rose’s fragrance. The highest concentration of oils are found in early morning which is why roses grown for their attar of roses (oils extracted from rose petals) are harvested then. (Our experience has been that every fresh rose bloom exudes some detectable scent, however subtle, under ideal conditions.)

Clearly, rose fragrance is highly desirable and has become its own reward. The presence of discernable fragrance, or the lack of it, often determines whether a variety gets introduced or not. Each hybridizer of the genus rosa has their personal hybridizing objectives. Each is looking for that unique, exceptional variety. Each is prepared to spend a professional lifetime searching for that one perfect and fragrant rose, the magnum opus of a career.

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David C.H. Austin                    (Photo: DavidAustinRoses.com)

David C. H. Austin, the founder of David Austin Roses Ltd,  passed away in December at the age of 92 in Albrighton, England, the town where he was born. He leaves a lasting legacy of extraordinary horticultural accomplishment having melded the virtues of old garden roses with those of modern roses, a daunting challenge. He had a clear vision of what could be and, through a lifetime of patience and persistence, followed his dreams and, in doing so, forever changed the international rose landscape.

The son of an English farmer, Austin’s interest was in horticulture more so than agriculture, particularly roses. As a young nurseryman in the 1950s, he loved the character and fragrance of traditional old garden roses and bemoaned their decline in popularity. While roses then were still a favorite plant of gardeners everywhere, the modern hybrid teas and floribundas with their repeat blooming ability and much broader color spectrum had pushed the once-blooming, old-fashioned roses with limited colors to one side.

Is it possible, Austin wondered, to capture the flower form and fragrance of the old roses — a rose with no fragrance, he was known to say, is only half a rose — and combine it with the remondancy (repeat bloom) and rich color palette of modern roses?

Thus, starting in his farmhouse kitchen 60 years ago, Austin began a life-long quest for his ideal rose, a quest that grew into an internationally recognized brand that is widely marketed throughout Europe and the United States.


Graham Thomas

His first introduction was Constance Spry in 1961.  This beautiful, pink, fragrant climber is still available today but it was a once-bloomer and the pursuit of remondancy continued. The breakthrough came in 1983 when Austin introduced three varieties, Graham Thomas, Mary Rose, and Heritage, at the Chelsea Flower Show in London. Each had the desired old rose flower form, distinct fragrance, attractive colors as well as the all-important ability to re-bloom more than once per season. He referred to these three beauties as “English” roses and they shot him onto center stage in the rose world and he never looked back. His roses would go on to win 24 gold medals at Chelsea and he was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 2007 for services to horticulture.




Over time, David Austin Roses developed the largest rose breeding program in the world, yielding 250,000 seedlings each year. Austin’s challenge was to balance the science of plant genetics with a vision of his ideal rose in a never ending search for certain key characteristics.  These distinctive traits include overall beauty, old fashioned floral form, outstanding garden performance, fragrance and “charm” — a British term meaning a unique difference from other roses. Achieving some of the desired characteristics in one variety is notable; achieving them all in one variety is the magnum opus of a career.


David Austin in Hybridizing Greenhouse   (Photo: DavidAustinRoses.com)

David Austin had said, “Every day, I marvel at my good fortune to have been able to make a life out of breeding roses. My greatest satisfaction is to see the pleasure my roses give to gardeners and rose lovers worldwide.” To that we reply, “It has been our good fortune to enjoy the beauty of these magnificent roses and to have benefitted from the vision of David C.H. Austin.”


If you would like to learn more about David Austin Roses, including details about his breeding program, we offer a PowerPoint Program, “David Austin’s English  Roses for New England Gardens.”

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June-Bloom - Chute's GardenA few weeks ago I wrote about our “First Blooms” while waiting with anticipation for this season’s June Bloom. Despite all worries concerning our unusually cold and wet spring, our roses bloomed “on time” (on or about June 17) and provided us with a spectacular display of color as well as plenty of possible entries for our RI Rose Society Rose Show.

Gathering roses for the show was not without some drama, though, with torrential downpours arriving in the afternoon and continuing throughout the evening before the Rose Show.  Luckily, we had plenty of roses to exhibit, having cut stems on the morning before the rain began.


Grooming Roses at Rose Show

Participating in a Rose Show is another way to share our love of roses with other gardeners and is our primary outreach to the public. Here are some photos of our roses that made it to the Head Table.



Graham Thomas – Best of Class Shrub English Box


Passionate Kisses – Best Floribunda Spray


Earth Song – Best Grandiflora Spray


Dublin – Court of Honor

After the rose show was over, I spent the next two weeks wandering through our rose gardens and taking photos, not only as the garden peaked, but also as the June bloom slowly went by. This is when I get the best new photos to use in our PowerPoint lectures as well as here in our blog and our quarterly e-newsletter, The Northeast Rose Gardener.



Champagne Wishes

We add and subtract varieties each season to keep the gardens fresh and interesting. One new rose we planted this year is the Easy Elegance rose, Champagne Wishes.

It looked even better in person than in the catalogue photos and is a lovely, creamy white rose with double blooms that stand out sharply against dark green foliage.





Rhode Island Red

Our 21-year-old Rhode Island Red climber — which makes up part of one “wall” of our garden room — had an excellent recovery after very hard spring pruning and produced a bush full of heavy clusters of dark red roses. As I write this, RI Red is shooting out long heavy new canes justifying the dramatic haircut that Mike administered in April.


Clair Matin

On our other “wall” climbs Clair Matin, who blooms a week earlier than the rest of the garden and also finishes earlier. Clair produced an amazing display this season and, like RI Red, is reloading now for another bloom cycle in August.


Graham Thomas

Standing alone in the center of our garden is the Grand Duke of the garden, Graham Thomas, which has fully recovered from 2016 winter damage, and is back to producing almost unlimited clusters of long, arching, buttery yellow sprays with fresh blooms opening over night.



Somewhat hidden by the size of Graham Thomas is our Playboy rose, a fickle floribunda with a radioactive combination of scarlet and gold flowers.  I was able to catch a photo of one of its sprays at its peak. Note the glossy, dark green foliage.


American Beauty

We had a few roses that really went crazy this season, dazzling us with their floriferousness. One is American Beauty, a hybrid perpetual that traditionally is a bit stingy with its roses. As you can see in the photo, though, this year it gave us spray after spray of fragrant blooms. For a rose that is supposedly a bit tender for our New England climate, I’ve concluded that this old garden rose is more than happy in its spot in the garden where it is nestled in between two modern, hardy roses.

The-McCartney-Rose by A Chute

The McCartney Rose

Another rose that outperformed itself this year is The McCartney Rose. Even more fragrant than American Beauty, The McCartney Rose threw out long sprays of delicate pink roses. The blooms don’t have the greatest form for a hybrid tea, but its saturated color and intense old rose fragrance more than make up for its casual form.

Passion-Kisses-Bowl A. Chute

Passionate Kisses

Passionate Kisses, besides being a prolific bloomer and good exhibition rose, creates a very nice display of floating blooms. Here is a photo of blooms 5 days old.

Chute GardenIt’s hard to capture the beauty of a rose garden through pictures, but since the June Bloom comes around only once a year, photographs will have to do — until next year.

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2-Rose-Show-RosesThis year our rose gardens peaked on June 20, a few days later than usual, and we had plenty of roses to bring to the RI Rose Society Rose Show on Saturday June 18th.

Mike was the 2016 Rose Show Chair so we spent the Friday before the Show getting the venue ready with other volunteers from the Rose Society. We set up over 30 tables in anticipation of exhibitors arriving on Saturday morning with loads of roses.

1-Rose-Show-Set-UpWe weren’t disappointed. Before the judging began, all tables were filled with stems and sprays of roses — including different varieties of hybrid tea and grandiflora roses, climbing roses, shrub roses, old garden roses, miniature and miniflora roses, even mystery roses with no known name. The room was transformed into a spectacular indoor rose garden with hundreds of vases filled with colorful roses.

8-Rose-ShowWe had arrived at the Rose Show at 7 AM with dozens of stems from our gardens. We especially enjoy exhibiting English boxes and, while our Graham Thomas rose wasn’t in full bloom in time for the Rose Show, we still had enough blooms for the Shrub English Box and Graham rewarded us by winning Best of Class. Graham Thomas never disappoints and when his blooms are fresh they’re tough to beat. We entered a spray of Graham in the David Austin class and he won again.


Graham Thomas English Box on right. Day Breaker English Box on left

Other English box winning entries were Day Breaker and Cherry Parfait. Day Breaker is a big favorite of ours but we had to replace the bush this spring due to excessive winterkill. The day before this year’s  Show, the new Day Breaker had only a dozen or so blooms, but they were all the same size and perfect to enter in the English Box for Floribunda Class.

Cherry Parfait is a floriferous grandiflora so we had an abundance  of blooms from which to choose. I think its striking lipstick-red and white flowers against the black of the English boxes makes a great presentation.


Cherry Parfait English Box

The theme of this year’s show was “The Rose – America’s Flower” and the theme class was one stem or spray of any white and one stem or spray of any red rose displayed in a cobalt blue vase. We had a difficult time finding a white rose to display with our red Super Hero rose, but at the last minute a spray of Macy’s Pride, an Easy Elegance rose by Ping Lim, opened and the combination produced the red, white and blue we were looking for.


The Rose-America’s Flower


American Beauty Rose

The rose I was hoping we could enter in the Show was American Beauty. It is the only old garden rose we grow and I like to enter it in the Old Garden Rose Victorian Rose class which is for roses introduced in 1867 or later. American Beauty is a hybrid perpetual rose introduced in 1875 and tends to bloom early. This year, though, American Beauty started producing great clusters of roses the second week of June. To my surprise, it continued to bloom until the end of June. We have been growing American Beauty for 5 years and in its first season it produced 3 roses. Since some varieties take a few years to become established, we waited until the second season, but didn’t get more than 8 or 10 roses. Still, we waited. And this year American Beauty exploded into bloom with dozens of fragrant cabbage-like roses in great sprays. The rose bush was spectacular and American Beauty did win Best Victorian Rose. Patience paid off.


Awards Table

Early each June I wonder if we’ll have roses in time to exhibit in the Rose Show and each year we always do. We just never know what varieties they will be. But no matter. All the roses at this year’s rose show — and there were hundreds of roses on display — were beautiful. While we always enjoy all the roses in the June Bloom in our garden, there’s nothing quite like Rose Show Roses.

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Graham Thomas

Graham Thomas

The weather has been unseasonably warm – often in the mid 50’s since Christmas. When Mike and I walked on the East Bay Bike Path this week, it felt like spring! We’re wondering what our roses and other plants will make of this weather, but meanwhile, we’ll enjoy the respite and the low heating bills knowing full well that old man winter is lurking just out of sight.

Graham Thomas

Graham Thomas

We usually spend this time of year evaluating our roses. As I was reviewing how some of our roses had performed last season, I mentioned to Mike that we have quite a number of yellow roses. Mike often comments during our programs that we’ve been in a “white” rose phase, but are moving into a more colorful, outrageous phase with roses like the yellow/orange/red blooms of Brothers Grimm. Yet, when asked what our favorite roses are, I’d start with David Austin’s Graham Thomas. It’s one of the oldest bushes we have and one that Mike fusses over with extra TLC. We feature it as a specimen plant in a special bed of its own where it can be seen as soon as you enter our back garden as well as from the kitchen window. When it’s at the peak of its June bloom, it’s easily 7 feet high and 6 feet wide. If the weather and timing is right, Graham Thomas also provides us with plenty of sprays and blooms to enter in our Rose Society’s Rose Show. We especially enjoy exhibiting Graham Thomas in an English Box. We like it so much that when we started our business, RoseSolutions, (www.rosesolutions.net) we selected Graham Thomas to be featured on the masthead of our web site and on our business cards as well.

Graham Thomas English Box

Graham Thomas English Box

Another favorite – Julia Child – is also yellow and we chose it as the cover photo for our book Roses for New England: A Guide to Sustainable Rose Gardening. To my eye, you can’t have a more striking photograph than that of a yellow rose against green foliage. To further emphasize the yellow of Julia Child, our book designer chose a dark green color for the cover and no matter how many times I look at Roses for New England, I never tire of seeing Julia Child.

Julia Child on Book Cover

Julia Child on Book Cover

Yellow Brick Road is one more yellow rose that we really like. It’s planted right at the corner of our front rose garden next to the driveway, so every time I come in and out, it’s the first rose bush that catches my eye. I can see why yellow roses represent friendship and are given to friends who may need cheering up. They always brighten my day.

I made a list of yellow roses we have in our garden and they include Sunny Knock Out, Molineaux, Yellow Submarine and the Brownell Everbloomimg Pillar # 84 also known as Golden Arctic. We also grow the Easy Elegance Centennial, classified as an apricot blend grandiflora, but in our garden it’s a soft yellow. A few years ago we were given the new introductions Good as Gold (Carruth, 2014) and Happy Go Lucky (Bedard, 2014) –two more yellow roses – and asked to evaluate them. While many new introductions don’t make it past the two-season probation period in our garden, these roses got high marks.

Yellow Brick Road

Yellow Brick Road

Good as Gold is a spectacular addition to our garden, giving us nicely formed golden yellow blooms with a hint of red along its petal edges. I never tired of taking photographs of it. Good as Gold is a hybrid tea and is hardy to Zone 5.

Good as Gold

Good as Gold

Happy Go Lucky is a pure yellow grandiflora with about 40 petals. It reminds me of the color of Julia Child so I wasn’t surprised to discover one of its parents is Julia Child. The foliage of Happy Go Lucky is darker than that of Julia’s, and so far Julia Child seems to be more floriferous. Happy Go Lucky is hardy to Zone 5.

Happy Go Lucky

Happy Go Lucky

Constant change is a hallmark of fine gardening and our fluid color preferences are good examples of keeping a garden fresh and interesting. With so many good new roses with great color available on the market every year, the challenge is deciding which ones to plant (and which ones to remove). While our changing tastes make those decisions a little easier, we know that our yellow favorites like Graham Thomas, Julia Child, Yellow Brick Road and Good as Gold are irreplaceable…for now.

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Sexy Rexy English Box

Sexy Rexy English Box

The Rhode Island Rose Society’s June Rose Show has come and gone. It is our biggest event of the year when we display hundreds of roses, as cut specimens in vases as well as floral arrangements, to the general public. The entries are judged and ribbons are awarded. This year’s show was held a week later than originally planned – Saturday June 22 instead of June 15 – and this produced some interesting results. Fresh shrub roses and floribunda sprays were plentiful while many varieties of hybrid teas had gone by. Regardless, everyone had some exceptionally beautiful roses to exhibit.

Roses in ExplorerAfter we returned home from helping set up for the show Friday evening, we went into our garden thinking we would have fewer blooms than usual since our garden had peaked the week before. But we managed to find a few gems among the spent blooms. We had tagged possible entries several days prior to the show and we usually have plenty of Graham Thomas roses to exhibit.

Graham Thomas

Graham Thomas

This year Graham staged an especially spectacular bloom display but had been slammed with two back-to-back torrential rain storms prior to the show. Mike found only a few decent blooms at the top of the bush, not enough to enter into one of our favorite classes, the English Box for Shrubs. But we did have enough small Sexy Rexy blooms to enter in another English box class – English Box for Smaller Blooms.  The RI Rose Society includes four English Box classes in its show schedule and the judges select the Best English Box from the winners of the four classes. We were thrilled when we discovered that our Sexy Rexy English Box was chosen.

We were lucky that Sexy Rexy blooms a bit later than many of the other varieties in our garden as we were also able to enter a spray of it another class. Our Julia Child had a good day, too, and was chosen as Best Floribunda Spray as well as the best of class in this year’s theme class, “Lovely to Look At,” which was a class for any rose with a woman’s name.

Outta the Blue

Outta the Blue

Our Outta the Blue, a mauve shrub rose, and Dublin, a red hybrid tea, both were awarded blue ribbons. Another bloom of Dublin was entered in the Masterpieces of the Garden Class where roses are displayed in a frame and received a blue ribbon as well.



All in all, it was a good day for our roses as it was for all our rose friends. As usual, we all had fun exhibiting our roses to the general public who again came out in droves to enjoy America’s national flower at the RI Rose Society’s 15th Annual Rose Show.

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Graham Thomas

Graham Thomas

Winter arrived with a vengeance last week with sub-zero night-time temperatures we haven’t seen in southern New England for a couple of years. Since the third week of January is historically the coldest time of the year, this should have come as no great surprise. But it did!

February Daffodils

February Daffodils

Despite this, the first wave of rose catalogues arrived in the mail last week awakening the gardening spirit with a sure signal that spring is right around the corner. It’s also a reminder that February is the month when Flower Shows spring up like the daffodil spears poking out of the soil that we discovered in the front garden yesterday.

RI Flower Show Arrangement

RI Flower Show Arrangement

Each year Mike and I look forward to the Rhode Island Spring Flower & Garden Show in Providence. We enjoy the display gardens, the beautiful and creative flower arrangements, the informative lectures, and Mike really likes the pungent aroma of pine bark mulch that fills the hall. It’s also a plus for us that it’s a local show; driving into Providence is easy and parking is usually plentiful. Our lecture this year is on Saturday February 23 at 2:00 pm when we will present the program “David Austin’s English Roses for New England Gardens.” If you love the old-fashioned form and fragrance of David Austin’s English Roses, then don’t miss this program. If you don’t have a copy of our book, Roses for New England: A Guide to Sustainable Rose Gardening, we will have them available after our lecture.

Carding MillPhoto by David Austin Roses

Carding Mill
Photo by David Austin Roses

Prior to the lecture, at 12:30 on Saturday, we’ll be conducting a demonstration on basic rose care – “Rosology 101” – that explains the steps needed to grow beautiful roses. As a bonus, Mike usually demonstrates how to prune roses. Spring PruningWe’ll be presenting this demonstration on behalf of the Rhode Island Rose Society and will have membership forms available if you would like to join. If you can’t make this demonstration, visit the RI Rose Society booth (Booth B) on the 3rd floor where you’ll find a wealth of information on everything roses. Society members will available throughout the show to answer your rose questions.

At the 2013 Boston Flower & Garden Show, held at the Seaport World Trade Center, we’ll be introducing a new program, “Discovering Sustainable Roses,” on Friday, March 15 at 2:30 pm. The focus is on modern, sustainable roses – sturdy attractive plants that can hold their own in a pesticide-free landscape. Our PowerPoint program identifies varieties that are easier to grow, winter hardy, far more disease-resistant, and bloom longer. In fact, we have a garden full of them at home and use that as a model.

My Girl

My Girl

February and March are the perfect times to start thinking about gardening and choosing roses to plant. We hope to see you at the Flower Shows in Providence and Boston this year. For your convenience, I’ve listed below other spring Flower Shows you may want to visit.

2013 Flower Shows:

February 21 – 24: Rhode Island Spring Flower & Garden Show, Providence, RI

February 21 – 24: Connecticut Flower & Garden Show, Hartford, CT

March 1 – 3: Vermont Flower Show, Essex Junction, VT

March 2 – 10: Philadelphia International Flower Show, Philadelphia, PA

March 7 – 10: Portland Flower Show, Portland, ME

March 13 – 17: Boston Flower & Garden Show, Boston, MA

March 23 – 24: Seacoast Home & Garden Show, Durham, NH

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Graham Thomas

Each fall Mike and I start thinking about what new varieties to add to our gardens next season.  We’ve decided to increase our David Austin collection and have selected some new Austin varieties to plant in 2013.

Graham Thomas English Box
Best of Class RI Rose Society Rose Show

We already grow some Austin roses including Graham Thomas, one of our all-time favorites. Mike planted Graham, one of Austin’s break-through introductions in 1983, more than 20 years ago as a specimen planting. Every June, Graham is the focal point of our garden – a large (8’ tall and 6’ wide) shrub rose with long arching sprays of tea scented, bright yellow blooms. He’s not only a great garden rose but an impressive exhibition rose, too.  Every year we exhibit Graham Thomas in the Rhode Island Rose Society’s Annual Rose Show. We especially enjoy selecting six identical, fresh blooms to display in an English box, a very popular class in the Rose Show.


However, Graham isn’t as disease resistant as we’d like, so he’s not a great sustainable variety as we define the term. But we can recommend a few other older Austin varieties with better disease resistant including Heritage and The Mayflower. We recently asked our friends at David Austin Roses to suggest roses that would grow well in our New England climate and they included them in our newest PowerPoint program.

Lichfield Angel
Photo Credit: David Austin Roses

My favorite rose recommended by Austin Roses for New England Gardens is Lichfield Angel. When I saw the photograph I knew I had to have that rose in our garden. The blooms of Lichfield Angel have 100 petals that start as deep cup-shaped blooms and open into rosettes. It’s described as creamy apricot, but appears to be a creamy white when it’s fully opened. In addition to its beautiful clusters of blooms, Lichfield Angel has a light clove fragrance and its habit – 4’ x 3’ – will fit in our garden. Names of roses interest me, and this rose is named after an 8th century limestone sculptured panel that was discovered in the Lichfield Cathedral near the Austin Nursery in the UK.

Fighting Temeraire
Photo Credit: David Austin Roses

While the petal count, flower form and creamy white color attracted me to Lichfield Angel, Mike was drawn to Fighting Temeraire, an Austin rose that will be introduced in the US in 2013. This apricot rose with bright yellow centers doesn’t look anything like a typical Austin rose. This new introduction is described as a very healthy, vigorous rose that produces large 4” to 5” fully open blooms of about 20 petals – far fewer petals than in most Austin varieties. Mike’s original attraction to the rose came from his interest in the painting, The Fighting Temeraire, by the famous 19th century British artist, Joseph M.W. Turner. We’ll be adding this to our wish list as well.

We’re still adding to our list of rose varieties to try next season. What are some of the roses you’re thinking of planting in your garden?

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Mike Grooming Roses

Montreal is one of our favorite cities and we’ve made many rose friends over the years. For this reason we visit frequently and were finally, after years of scheduling conflicts, able to make the trip on the weekend of the Quebec Rose Society’s (SRQRS) annual Rose Show at the Montreal Botanical Garden (MBG).

This year the Montreal show was on June 30.  That’s late in the first bloom cycle for us – our garden peaks around June 17 each year – but we decided to go anyway, bringing whatever roses we had. It had been over 10 years since we last attended a SRQRS Rose Show and the first time since they changed the venue to the Montreal Botanical Garden.

We had made the decision at the last minute.  I made hotel reservations and Mike contacted our friend Claire Laberge at the MBG to tell her we’d be bringing roses for the show. We then heard from Diane Vigneault, President of SRQRS who invited Mike, an accredited ARS horticultural rose judge, to join the judging team. The splendid hospitality began immediately with arrangements made for us to store our roses overnight in a refrigerator at the Botanical Garden. Diane also made us honorary SRQRS members and even provided a parking pass.  

Hannah Gordon

Mike got up early Friday morning, the day before the show, and cut several long stems of Marijke Koopman, a nice stem of Dublin, a gorgeous spray of Hannah Gordon, and a late blooming spray of Graham Thomas that had opened over night. We packed the roses in three large galvanized florist containers with plenty of water and nestled them in a dark corner in the back of the SUV and hoped they’d make the trip without blooming out. Mike had already checked with Canadian customs who had no prohibition against bringing cut flowers across the border. (Interestingly, while Canada freely allows cut flowers across the border, the United States does not without an import permit. We left all our stems in Montreal.)

We arrived in Montreal around 4:30 Friday afternoon and found the sprays had opened up quite a bit after the 7 hour drive. We found Claire setting up the show and she helped us carry our roses to the huge walk-in refrigerator at the MBG with a temperature of 2° Celsius — only 2 degrees above freezing. The outside temp was 88°F and we thought the roses would be better off in the refrigerator than in the car overnight.

The following morning, we retrieved our roses and saw immediately that poor Graham Thomas hadn’t enjoyed his night in the fridge at all.  His blooms were closed and puckered, his leaves were shivering and he looked totally miserable. But Mike found a warm, sunny spot in a greenhouse and left him there while grooming the rest of the entries. Later he teased Graham’s blooms open with a Q-tip and warm fingers and when Mike wasn’t looking, I blew gently on the blooms, hoping to coax them open a little more.

Graham Thomas

We chose our best Marijke Koopman, and then used Q-tips to nudge her petals into the best hybrid tea form. Then Mike groomed our large Hannah Gordon spray that had 18-20 snow white blooms with lipstick-red around the petal edges surrounded by dark green foliage – snipping, shaping, and smoothing the inflorescence into what we hoped would be winning form.

When entries closed, Mike went off to the judges’ meeting and I went into the fabulous Roseraie, the 10,000 bush rose garden, to take photos. After judging and lunch we went to see the results. Much to our delight, our re-invigorated Graham Thomas won a red ribbon – 1st place in Canadian Rose Shows – as did our Hannah Gordon and Marijke Koopman. Not bad for roses that traveled 350 miles in the back of our SUV on a hot summer’s day and then spent the night in an almost freezing refrigerator! The Awards Table hadn’t been set up yet, so we enjoyed the show for the afternoon and when it was time to leave, we thanked our hosts and said good bye. They asked us if we wanted to take our certificate and ribbon with us. I asked, “Certificate for what?” That’s when we found out that Marijke Koopman had won Prince of Show!

Marijke Koopman Prince of Show

On our drive back to RI, Mike and I talked about our weekend – the rose show, the rose garden, the great hospitality of the SRQRS, the vibrant city of Montreal with its great restaurants, the al fresco dining (reminded us a bit of Paris).  We also started thinking of how much fun it would be to return next June when SRQRS will host the Canadian National Rose Show at the MBG.

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Mike and I recently returned from a fabulous trip to Paris and are still reeling from all the wonders the City of Light had to offer. From the grandeur of the Eiffel Tower  (much bigger than we had thought) to the majestic Notre Dame Cathedral to the indescribable Louvre and d’Orsay Museums, we could have spent forever there instead of two weeks and not seen it all.

What we did see, and sometimes when we least expected it, were beautiful roses. We also took a train ride to a magnificent rose garden just outside of Paris and we’ll be posting about all our Parisian experiences in the next few weeks. But time flies and before we can settle down to recap Paris, we’re preparing and planning for the Rhode Island Rose Society’s 14th Annual Rose Show. The show, “A Sea of Roses,” is next Saturday, June 16 at the North Kingstown Community Center, 30 Beach St. Wickford, RI.


With above-average heat last March, our rose gardens are in full bloom and peaking a little earlier early than usual.  If the rose show were this weekend, we’d have plenty of roses despite lots of soggy, spotted blooms due to all the rain we had this past week. We’re hoping for a week of warm dry weather so we’ll have buckets of fresh roses to exhibit.

Graham Thomas & Brownell Pillars

Our mature and dependable Graham Thomas has exploded again this year with thousands of buttery yellow sprays and is almost as tall as our Brownell Pillars which stand 10 to 12’ tall. We planted a new Chihuly this spring and are pleased to see how many blooms it’s giving us. And Colorific, new to our garden last year, has really settled in and became the latest showoff.  

If you’re within driving distance of RI, put the RI Rose Society’s Rose Show on your “To Do” list next Saturday. The show is open to the public at 1 pm. Mike and I will be there all day and will be having a book signing at 2 pm. Hope to see you there.

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A place to share my needlepoint and connect with other stitchers.

The Rose Journal

Musings & Adventures of Two New England Rose Gardeners

Nuts about Needlepoint

Needlepoint & thread information from the Internet's Needlepoint Expert

Digging RI

The great outdoors in the smallest state

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.