Rose Curators

We gather here the voices of six 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. We hope to be adding a few new curators in the near future. 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

daniel nauman: pernetianas

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

The Vintage Roses Collection of Pernetianas has been relocated to Red Bluff, California—just a couple hundred feet from the Sacramento River. Our large front lawn was already doomed due to years of neglect before we bought the property and to an infestation of Dallas grass—not to mention that I already have about a quarter acre of riverside lawn that requires twice weekly mowing in the summer. Gregg Lowery got wind of the impending lawn removal and thought Red Bluff, with its dry climate supplemented by a relatively wet dormant season, would be ideal for Pernetianas.

Due to the extreme summer heat and ultraviolet index in Red Bluff, I’m always on the lookout for Pernetianas that can take such abuse.  Some varieties go from bud to exhaustion in but a few morning hours, but a number do stand out by lasting for days. . .

Be sure to follow me on Facebook for near-daily postings of Pernetiana blossoms, and hopefully a beautiful garden once it starts filling in.

Vesuvius, Evona’s Yellow, Mari Dot

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

bill smith: Old european roses, hybrid perpetuals, bourbons, portlands

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

I fell in love with old roses way back when I was a teenager with my first Sunset garden book on roses. There was only one small photograph of an old rose within its pages. It was labeled ‘Autumn Damask’. That photo hit some kind of nostalgic memory in me . . .

I’ve wanted to start an old rose company for decades now, and we’re finally at the point in our lives that we can do just that. I approached the curator of The Friends of Vintage Roses (TFoVR), Gregg Lowery, with just a simple request to get a few cuttings to experiment with propagation through plant tissue culture. . .

After getting to know Gregg more and discussing that we ultimately wanted to get these old garden roses into commerce again, he surprised me and gave us access to the entire old rose collection. . . We are still working on developing the best cultural conditions for such a diverse collection.

Our next step is to find more suitable laboratory and greenhouse space . . . Hopefully, we’ll have production in full swing by next summer. Be watching for us over the next couple years as we begin selling mail order online.

La Reine (HP), Kronprinzessin Viktoria (Bourbon), Catherine Guillot (Bourbon)