Rose Curators

We gather here the voices of four people who are curating parts of the Friends’ rose collection. These reports were submitted for our Summer–Autumn 2018 newsletter. These are the brave and generous souls who are helping us to preserve our historic collection of roses by fostering some of our mother plants and duplicating others. Together we form a network of gardeners who are committed to sharing these roses with other preservation gardens and nurseries.

In 2022 we have said farewell to our curator of the Pernetiana roses, Daniel Naumann, who is moving to the Oregon coast where the roses would not have thrived. Daniel moved mountains to propagate all of the roses in the collection. One copy will go to the first curator, John Bagnasco, who curates all of the Friends’ Hybrid Teas varieties. A second copy has been adopted by Beth Hana, an extraordinary rose collector who lost much of her collection when her house and garden burned to the ground in the fire that leveled Paradise, California. We’ll have more to share from Beth and John this summer.

Susan Feichtmeir has adopted our collection of Polyantha roses, which she is planting in her large Santa Rosa garden. And Pamela Temple has added the Friends’ collection of David Austin shrub roses to her 3-acre garden of Ramblers.

Finally, we are delighted to begin working with Erin Benzakein whose cut-flower seed farm Floret in Washington’s Skagit Valley is well known. Her followers of the books she has written and her online blog and features on the Magnolia Network will no doubt bring new light to these very old roses and their value for modern gardens. This spring we will provide the first shipment of young plants of the Friends’ collection of all of the old European rose classes: Albas, Centifolias, Damasks, Eglantines, Gallicas, Hybrid Bourbons, Hybrid Chinas, Mosses, Spinosissimas, as well as old European species and early ramblers derived from Rosa sempervirens. She has also adopted the Hybrid Musk roses. These classes form a huge chunk of our collection for one effort to take on, but we know that Erin, her husband Chris, and the dedicated family and crew at Floret are up to the job. 

Thank you to all of the curators who take on the responsibility of preserving these roses. We need more who are willing to help and we work with some gardeners who have very small collections that are as important as these very large ones. Julie Matlin in Chico, California has worked on preserving the small but historically significant group we know as the Portland roses, or Damask Perpetuals. Check our newsletter for a full list of those who are engaged as curators for our collection.

If you are interested in joining us and would like more information, contact Friends’ curator Gregg Lowery at

Sue Bunte: Floribundas

Excerpted from an article by Sue in our Newsletter, issue 19, July 2018:

About 30 years ago I decided since nobody had ever promised me a rose garden, I would plant one myself. At the end I had 90+ plants, but over a period of several years I lost all but 16. Six years of drought and a very healthy population of gophers can devastate a rose garden in no time at all. Most of the survivors were old roses, so when I decided a few years ago to start over again, I sought out nurseries who specialize in vintage roses, discovered TFoVR and showed up at the garden the day they were cutting flowers for the Celebration of Old Roses. . .

[Eventually] I agreed to become the curator of the Floribunda Collection and began the process of moving 281 plants to my property in Napa. [Editor’s note: Sue has since moved her collection to her new home in Alabama.]

I love my Flori’s. The range of colors and blossom types is simply amazing. It has been one of the most rewarding undertakings I have been involved with, not just the Flori’s, but helping to save this amazing collection. Some of the roses in the TFoVR collection can’t be found anywhere else in the country, and some are so rare they can’t be found anywhere in the world. If this collection is lost, that may very well be the end of many of these roses, and that would be a tragedy.

Ice White, Poppy, Poulson’s Yellow

Pamela Temple: Ramblers

Excerpted from an article by Pamela in our Newsletter, issue 19, July 2018:

When we were asked to foster the Rambler rose collections that now belongs the The Friends of Vintage Roses, we were thrilled. We live on 38 acres. It is a wild, isolated, and dramatic landscape in Northern California. . . To me it seemed an ideal place for huge rambling roses.

We wanted to grow many of the Ramblers freestanding and untamed. We planted some of the roses with lax growth habits so that they would tumble down the hill to the road. Some more arching and upright ones we planted out in the field as haystacks and mountains. It is exciting to see a rose growing in this natural way. The wild exuberance of Ramblers makes them my favorite class.

Taking on the responsibility of preserving a collection of roses has changed my perspective on gardening. Previously I had focused on making a pretty garden. Now the expansiveness of my garden provides a sanctuary. I consider it my responsibility to provide for as many of these amazing rambling roses as I can on this hillside. As the world seems to grow smaller and smaller, finding a place for people to see these beautiful giants is very important to me. We all need these wild and exuberant beings. 

Coralie, Quaeen of the Belgians, Magic Carpet

Susan Feichtmeier: Modern Shrub Roses

Excerpted from an article by Susan in our Newsletter, issue 19, July 2018:

As family and friends will surely say, I have a problem with roses. My garden already holds about 475 different roses, and I am always looking for more. Originally, when Gregg Lowery proposed that I house the Shrub collection, I thought I would just tuck them in here and there in the garden. But when he told me how many roses there were in the group, I realized that would not be possible and that I would have to create a new section for them.

The area that I decided to develop is a fairly steep slope between our house and the rose garden, facing southwest. I had to consider not only the design of the area, but also the more practical problems of fire danger, irrigation water sourcing, danger of erosion, suitability of the soil, and so forth. In the end, I decided to go with a very simple design of beds alternating with paths extending across the slope.

Golden Wings, Smarty, Illusion

john bagnasco: hybrid teas and floribundas

Excerpted from an article by John in our Newsletter, issue 19, July 2018:

The California Coastal Rose Society (in north San Diego County) has been involved with preserving the genetics of endangered rose varieties for the past 18 years. . .

We were thrilled to receive a small part of the Vintage Hybrid Tea and Floribunda collection. Last winter, 181 Hybrid Teas and 51 Floribundas were shipped from Sebastopol to Bonsall, CA. A permanent home for these plants is under construction, and they will eventually reside in Fallbrook, CA. . .

We hope eventually to bring more plants from Vintage into the collection. I am especially keen on recreating the Pernetiana collection. The dry, mild climate of San Diego County, where blackspot is rarely a problem, is ideal for growing this class. . .

Betty, Janet, Felberg’s Rosa Druschki