Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Best Rosy Scent in the Depths of Winter

By Guest Writer Terri Clark

First off, you should know from the get-go that I am a one-scent woman. Here’s how it happened. In my salad days, I was strolling down Robson Street in Vancouver and discovered a marvelous shop called Gallipots, now long gone. At the entrance to this diminutive treasure was an enticing display of florally scented perfumes and colognes, all made by an east coast American company – The Perfumers’ Workshop. Never before or since have I inhaled such true-to-flower scents in any perfume.

Not cloying but almost wistful, there were about ten different scents that could be purchased. I recall there were Magnolia, Gardenia, Lilac and, my favourite, Tea Rose. From the first moment I smelled this old rose aroma I was hooked and so were all those who would come in contact with me over the next three decades.

Wherever I go I can almost count on at least one person - in a crowd, at dinner, in the butcher shop, at a park – to be heard to say, “What is that wonderful scent, it smells like real roses?” Of course the problem becomes, do I enlighten them about the particular perfume I use and become less unique, or let them wander off always wondering what it was that turned a normal atmosphere into a virtual Mottisfont Abbey on a mid-June day.

I am now about to reveal my source after all these years so others, fortunate enough to cadge a bottle, can experience this fresh scent every day like me. The Perfumers’ Workshop was only able to market their amazing line of flower products for a short time and Tea Rose was ever after always difficult to find. In the early years Bloomingdales in New York could always be counted on, until recently. Now it can be discovered in discount stores like Dollars & Scents in the United States, and of course, online.

The great news is that Tea Rose by the Perfumers’ Workshop is relatively inexpensive with a 4 ounce bottle costing only about $25.

Good luck on your journey to finding what I think is the best and most authentic rose scent anywhere!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Hilary Miles - Roses from the Heart

By Guest Writer Terri Clark
(Hilary Miles will be a part of the Floral Design Exhibit at the World Rose Festival)

As is often the case in life, sometimes we don’t end up choosing a career as much as following what seems to be our destiny. Such is the case with Hilary Miles, one of Vancouver’s and Canada’s most sought after florists. From the tender age of just eight years, when she made her first arrangement in a favourite uncle’s Seattle floral shop, Hilary always knew that one day she would be surrounded by flowers in her very own store.

Sitting in her diminutive and subterranean Kitsilano shop which she opened in 1992, Hilary is giving me a lesson in the many attributes and varieties of roses, from long and short to local and imported. She is stylishly dressed in a fuchsia pink jacket with shimmering matching lipstick suggesting a rosy mood as I asked her why roses are so associated with Valentine’s Day.

“I just love roses. A few years back there was a trend away from roses to mixed bouquets for February 14th but they have returned in a big way. I think people are harkening back to the ‘50s and early ‘60s and all those traditions of trying to create a sense of safety and hominess. By far the biggest seller on Valentine’s Day will be a dozen or more long-stemmed red roses. We are so fortunate now to be able to get a wide variety of these flowers locally and from places like South America where they have become one of the top exports for many countries.”

For the florist, Valentine’s Day is like the Christmas season when businesses make a substantial portion of their annual income. Everyone tends to keep their fingers crossed for passable weather- no snow or freezing temperatures please! But Hilary Miles has also cornered a very lucrative market in supplying flowers for set decorators in the movie, commercial, and TV industries. This, along with weddings, weekly arrangements for businesses and a very loyal clientele, keep her optimistic in these volatile economic times.

She also cautioned that people get exactly what they pay for. Those $12 a dozen bouquets of red roses being sold curbside have probably been in a cooler for two to three weeks. Their little crimson necks will flop over the minute they hit a room of warm air. The week before Valentine’s Day, prices at the flower auction will skyrocket for quality roses so please expect to pay about $120 for a dozen top-of-the-line roses but they will repay the recipient with over a week of pleasure.

I asked Hilary what her dream rose bouquet would consist of and without hesitating she said, “I am not a fan of pastels at all. Give me a fiery mix of corals, citrus, watermelon and yellows. I adore those colours.” If you visit her web site at you’ll see exactly what she means.

Gifted Roses - Rose Garden Legacy Project

By Guest Writer Patrick White

Under the auspices of Thomas Proll, Chief Hybridiser for Kordes of Germany, 450 bare-rooted roses were sent from Gary Pellett of NewFlora, the chief distributor of this international firm in Medford, Oregon to Victoria for municipal plantings throughout the city. The purpose was to “beef up” existing rose plantings for the international visitors expected for the World Rose Convention and Festival, as part of the Rose Garden Legacy Project.

These roses are very much of the 21st century, with high disease resistance typical of the current Carefree Spirit hybridizing programme maintained by Kordes. This will be of paramount interest to rosarians attending the WFRS Convention. And Thomas will be participating in the Hybridiser’s session in Vancouver!

There was a gift of roses from France, from the house of Meilland. Alain and Nadine Meilland have donated 400 rose bushes -of Carefree Spirit, a 2009 AARS winner- to be planted between Victoria, and Vancouver parks.

Friday, January 23, 2009

One of My Favourite Roses …also known as Ramblin’ Rose

by Guest Writer Elaine Senft

My passion is growing roses, mostly the old garden varieties. The climate of the southwestern corner of British Columbia is very similar to the climate of Britain other than their soil conditions are of a clay base and ours, an acidic base.

One of my favourite roses, Madame Alfred Carriere, does her thing anywhere! She was born in the mid 1800s and she is a magnificent climber of spectacular beauty and qualities. She is pure innocence, sporting the creamiest white, fluffy, delicately petalled, full flowering, fragrant blossoms you could ever imagine! I'm not prejudiced or anything...having five of her and all! Her status in the rose world is fantastic and she is classified as a ‘Noisette’ rose.

What are Noisettes? Well, they are a family of roses that have been crossed with the China Roses and the Musk Roses. The gentlemen responsible for bringing them to us are Philippe Noisette, a French emigrant and his brother Louis. One of their first seedlings, "Blush Noisette", is used world-wide in gardens.

Most of these roses flower later in the season, rather than early. Clearly, the blooming season of Madame is from June, right into the month of December, given a mild fall. I have gone out and picked blossoms on Christmas Day (admittedly only one year so far)! Good on-going continuous flowering is from June until November.

This past summer, while wandering about my garden, coffee in hand, I did what I always do…go to one of my Madame’s for an early morning chat! I looked up at one of the newer plants of her and said...boy, oh boy...not long now! In my garden, most of my climbers are in their 20’s! Here's what you can expect from a plant of Madame...the first year you plant, she'll sleep; the second year, she'll creep; and the third year, she'll leap! Watch out! The growth is phenomenal! The blossoms are worth waiting for... you'll see what I mean. I have one of her on an arbor in my front garden on the southwest corner...she goes crazy there and her very supple canes make it very easy to lay her across an arbor. Plus, she's relatively thornless!

In the Southern US she has been known to grow to be 25'. Now, that's with oodles of heat!!! Mine up here grow around 15'. As far as hardiness, zones 6-9, and up, but, alas, she’s a little tender for Prairie weather.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Snow Laden Roses - Boughed But Not Beaten

By Guest Writer Terri Clark

World Rose Convention city, Vancouver, is known for its temperate climate where extremes are usually reached only at the upper altitudes. Back in the early 1970s, the precursor organization to Tourism Vancouver used to famously tout that when you visited our “city beautiful”, you could golf in the early morning, sail at lunchtime and ski in the afternoon. Such was our ordained Camelot, weather-wise at least.

So too for avid gardeners who realized that Zone 8 plants could edge their way through a Vancouver winter given a little TLC, or at the very least good drainage, so often the key to survival in a wet but cold climate.

But Mother Nature rules in the end and even before winter had fully been declared, she started thumping evergreen Vancouver with innumerable substantial snow storms pre and post Christmas 2008.

Our family had escaped to New England for the holidays and upon our return two weeks later, could nary recognize a rose bush in the garden due to thick layers of snow and ice that had face-planted them earth-side. The elegant and ruby-coloured arms of my most prized Rosa mutabilis, hard to find commercially, was totally prone as were so many others. Fortunately for me, early November had seen major pruning of my climbing rose with sturdy ties holding them skyward.

But what to do with the flattened rose canes? Experience has taught me that time does heal many wounds especially where actual “breaks” have not occurred. The snow is gradually melting now and I have assessed the damage. Broken canes or splits have been cleanly pruned back to just below the injury and boughed ones staked up until their “strength” returns. Once spring comes, the entire inventory will be reviewed for general health and shape and perhaps be further coiffed.

In the worse case scenario, where roses were lost to extremely cold temperatures, just think of all the new opportunities that await you. Gardens by their nature are organic and change is the optimum word. Do what you can to patch-up your injured rose friends but take solace in a future filled with new varieties!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Getting Hip to Rose Jelly

By Guest Writer Terri Clark

One of my best friends likes to quote an old saying every time we are about to indulge in some delectable and impossibly calorie-ridden sweet. While gently wagging her finger she warns, “A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips.” While this is acutely true, especially of the older females of the species, there are times when hips are most desirable, and the bigger the better.

Enthusiastic rosarians worldwide who are fortunate in boasting countless bushes in their garden inventory can easily find enough rose hips to craft one of life’s rare culinary pleasures – rose hip jelly! Long a staple of North American First Nations people and early pioneers, rose hips are loaded with vitamin C and when combined with sugar, water and pectin result in a delicately flavoured jelly best reserved for the most special of occasions.

As this recipe calls for fully four quarts of rose hips, you might want to join efforts with several of your other rose-growing friends in order to procure enough of these special fruits. Read on for the recipe and plan now for one of autumn’s exclusive offerings.

4 quarts ripe, unsprayed rose hips, rinsed
2 quarts water
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 package pectin crystals
5 cups sugar

Simmer rose hips in water until soft. Crush to mash, and strain through a jelly bag. This should make about 4 cups of rose hip juice. Put hip juice into a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the lemon juice and pectin crystals and bring to a hard boil, stirring constantly, skimming off any foam with a metal spoon. Stir sugar in at once. Bring back to a full rolling boil and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove jelly from heat and skim off any more foam. Pour jelly into hot sterilized canning jars, top with sterilized lids and rings and hot-water process for 10 minutes to safely seal and preserve the jelly (follow instructions in any reputable canning book). Yield: about 5 cups

Monday, January 12, 2009

Being Hung Up On Roses

By Guest Writer Elaine A. Senft

As a little girl growing up in the warm environs of White Rock, the only roses I really enjoyed the smell of were the hot pink rugosas planted along the railroad track near the beach. I didn't think much of roses then. Well, that was to change. I can't remember the year when my husband and kids visited Miracle Beach on Vancouver Island but I do recall what happened. We were visiting friends near the beach when I spotted a quaint cottage and a garden with arbors and roses everywhere.

My excitement was overwhelming…pink roses climbing over trellises, white, yellow...more pink was definitely an awakening...I couldn't stop myself from inhaling all the overpowering fragrances. The cottage on that particular beach happened to be the home of none other than the former president of the Vancouver Rose Society, Pat poor family, looking all over for me and there I was, talking to her and her husband about roses.

That was it, I was hooked! I had to have a rose garden...and they had to be fragrant! No ands, ifs, or buts! Climbing Cecile Brunner, New Dawn, Golden Showers and, of all things, Veilchenblau ...but where to put them? So, 25 years ago, the trellis and arbor thing began in our Deep Cove, North Vancouver garden. We (my husband and I) built them from used wood and wired them together. My friends thought I was a nut...that’s the passion, once we're hooked! She (Murdoch, my mentor) said... “always remember, Elaine, buy good plants” ...and I have. Three hundred and fifty or so roses later, seventeen arbors and whatyamacallsits, I can say I now have a rose garden consisting of pretty much all Old Garden Roses (OGRs).

My #1 favourite rose of all is Mme Alfred Carriere (a creamy-white, fluffy, wonderfully fragrant noisette from the mid 1800s). Other favourites include a variety of modern roses, David Austin English roses and OGRs: New Dawn, R.Rugosa Rosaerie de la Hay, R. Filipes Kiftsgate, Bobbie James, Wedding Day, Lichtkoenigen Lucia, Sparrieshoop, Albertine, Graham Thomas, Abraham Darby, Leander, Rosa Mundi, Paul's Himalayan Musk, Rosa Canary Bird (she's the first to bloom but can be tender), Rosa Macrantha, Westerland and Autumn Sunset... I have probably missed naming some more...oh yes, Rosa Mulliganii and on and on…then there was the time I tried, and succeeded, in transplanting one of the house-eaters, Wedding Day!!

That day I really was Hung Up On Roses!!! Today, I enjoy a passion I can’t let go of – I enjoy acting as a rosarian consultant and teaching/giving lectures on roses because I have the time and the desire to share this information. I have grown wonderful old garden roses for nearly 25 years and it all started that sunny summer on Vancouver Island…we all have to start somewhere! I feel Mother Nature would be happy with that!

Happy growing!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Roses and Winter 09

BRRRRRRR. Is what my roses are saying this winter. Here is what you are all wanting to know!

Will my roses survive the Vancouver area winter of 08-09?
If they die will the nursery replace them due to a record cold temperatures, snow and wind?

I'll let ya work that one out yourself..wink..

We are in the middle of a long cold winter by Vancouver area standards and that makes it far too early to tell how bad winter loses will be this year. My gut feeling is that some of the more tender hybrid tea roses will have some heavy die back or perhaps total die back. Some climbers will die back but after a hard pruning they will bounce back in a season or two. The Old Garden type and hardy shrub style roses will have very little winter damage, they seem to laugh at the cold and the David Austin roses although more hardy than most Hybrid Teas may have some die back. Ask me in a month or two for a full report on the winter of '09!

One thing I do know is that we will be doing some very heavy pruning of roses this spring! That can be a good thing as it cleans up disease and insect problems and gives way to a nice shapely new rose bush! As long as you have a healthy, strong growing rose, most can bounce back from a pruning down to almost the crown level. Every variety of rose is slightly different but have faith that you will enjoy some of your favorite roses again next spring and enjoy the idea of replacing some of them with better, new varieties!

We will spend more time talking about this winter and how to tell if a rose cane has completely died in future blog postings.

Remember a few things about winter:

Wind, Sun and Cold in tender late growth is what causes most winter damage to plants including roses.
Snow cover is an excellent insulator against cold and the heavy amount we have had is helping protect your plants.

Cold long winters are nature's way of killing of disease and insects but we have to offer a few plants in sacrifice.

Without rain there can be no sunshine and without winter there can be no spring!

Ps. I leave for Hawaii Jan 17, wowowow. I'm sooo outta this winter wonderland. Ha!

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