Posts Tagged ‘rose shows’

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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Peak Bloom

Peak Bloom in Our Garden

Each spring we wonder when peak bloom will occur in our garden. We consider the current spring’s weather and the harshness of the previous winter and then venture a guess. Ideally, peak bloom happens a few days prior to the Rhode Island Rose Society’s annual rose show which this year was held on June 20. While our garden actually peaked on June 15 (this is purely a subjective judgment on Mike’s part), many of our shrub roses had gone-by. Regardless, the garden was still full of other roses that we could take to the rose show.

RI Rose Society Rose Show Awards Table

RI Rose Society Rose Show Awards Table

Rose Shows serve several purposes; the first is to display the genus rosa in all its glory to the public – the show is free and open to all in the afternoon. There is a class in the show for every type of rose and the gardening public can see them all under one roof. The second is to satisfy the competitive nature of local rose gardeners who vie for ribbons and bragging rights.

Unlike last year when we cut roses in the rain the night before the show, this year the weather was perfect – sunny and dry. Mike and I went from rose bush to rose bush, cutting and labeling roses. One of our favorite ways to exhibit our roses is in English Boxes which means we need 6 fresh blooms each the same size and stage of bloom so they all match. So we keep an eye peeled, looking for these possibilities as well as other sprays and single blooms. After selecting the best stems, we place them in vases of cold water and store in a dark, air-conditioned room overnight so we’re ready to go first thing in the morning.

Queen of Show

Queen of Show

The morning of the show we arrived at 7 am and started prepping our roses. The first rose we prepared was Smokin’ Hot, a new hybrid tea introduced in 2014 by Weeks Roses. Since we don’t have many hybrid tea roses in our garden any more, this variety was an exception. We got Smokin’ Hot in early May and it was still in its container because we evaluate each new variety for one season before giving it a place in the garden. Well, Smokin’ Hot lived up to its name and gave us a fiery orange-red bloom with perfect hybrid tea form which won Queen of the show. Needless to say, Mike awarded it a coveted spot in our garden a few days later.

Cherry Parfait

Cherry Parfait English Box

Another rose we like is Cherry Parfait, a grandiflora rose that we planted in 2005. It’s aptly named because of its color – white petals with lipstick red edges that swirl around the bloom. In an English Box, each rose looks like a bowl of cherry ice cream with ripples of whipped cream. We brought 2 large sprays to the rose show and entered it in 2 different classes: English box and Grandiflora spray. Both won blue ribbons and Best of Class.

Cherry Parfait Spray

Cherry Parfait Spray

Day Breaker, a peachy-apricot floribunda that produces sprays of 5-7 blooms and glossy immaculate foliage had bloomed perfectly for the show. Like Cherry Parfait, we entered Day Breaker in 2 classes: Floribunda spray and English Box for Floribundas where it won Best of Class in both classes. The Day Breaker English Box also was voted Best English Box in show.

Day Breaker Spray

Day Breaker Spray

The June bloom is over and it was one of our best ever. Mike thinks it was due, in part, to all the snow we had last winter that was beneficial to the garden, a new meal plan he developed for the garden, plus a little help from Mother Nature.

Day Breaker: Best English Box

Day Breaker: Best English Box

One thing I’ve learned over time is it’s pointless to worry about whether we have roses for our rose show; that’s out of our hands. If we do, that’s great, if not, we still have them to enjoy all season. But we can’t complain this season, our roses arrived on schedule and we were able to enjoy exhibiting them as well displaying to the public the beauty of America’s National Flower.

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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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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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Back Row: Easy Does It, Ebb Tide, Outta the Blue, Julia Child; front row: Playboy, Hot Cocoa

Serious rose gardeners love to talk (and write) endlessly about roses. And we also love to exhibit roses, which is what we did on Saturday when the RI Rose Society had its annual “Six Pack Rose Show.”

Roses to bring to Show

This show is very low key and lots of fun. Everyone is invited to bring in no more than 6 roses displayed in bottles of any kind — water bottles, wine bottles, juice bottles or beer bottles. This late season, informal rose show encourages Society members, who may never have exhibited roses before, to give it a try. It’s also educational because Mike organizes an “open-judging” format. Judges verbalize the judging process out-loud as they critique each exhibit, explaining the awards – first, second or third place – that each entry receives. It’s an interactive process with the audience that asks questions throughout the judging.

Mike and Dave

On Saturday, Mike was joined by fellow ARS horticultural judge Dave Long from Old Lyme, CT. They presented an informative peek into the enigmatic world of show roses and how they are judged. Especially appreciated by novice and seasoned exhibitors alike, were their tips and insights on grooming show roses.

Another perk at having an informal rose show in the fall is that we get to appreciate the subtle differences that occur in roses due to changes in light and temperature from June to September. Our Playboy and Hot Cocoa roses have more saturated color now than they did last spring and our Julia Child roses were smaller than they were in June. We also have more of a chance to check out all the entries than we do at our big June rose show. This helps us decide what varieties to add to our “wish list” for next year.

Distant Drums

At the end of the judging, Mike and Dave culled all the “Blue Ribbon” winners (we used blue stars instead of ribbons) down to five. Then the members were polled to determine the best two entries. They voted again for “Best of Show” which went to Clive Nickerson for his picture-perfect bloom of ‘Distant Drums’.

The “Six Pack Rose Show” was one more way to enjoy rose gardening as this 2011 rose growing season winds down. Plus, look at the beautiful vase of roses I had when I came home!

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