A Noah’s Ark of Roses

A Pots Before

In late May this year our collection of roses faced a new peril. Funding for hired help had diminished just at a time when we most needed the extra help. As I dragged hoses through the container plants to water—the start of a long, dry summer—I realized just how fragile those plants were.

Three thousand nine hundred eighty. That is the number of potted of roses I counted as I watered one day in early June. In 2014 the Friends’ work focussed on potting up small rose plants to larger pots. By the end of that process we faced the maintenance of what may be the world’s largest collection of roses in pots. Through the winter we dug another 400 roses from the Old Hybrid Tea beds where gophers were damaging so many…and the pot collection grew!

Three thousand nine hundred eighty. I’ll keep repeating that number. It is a very large quantity of roses which require scrupulous daily attention. Many will simply not survive the summer without my personal intervention. Absent the hired help, I determined that somehow I would make the time and patch up the holes in this very leaky Noah’s Ark of Old Roses.

In those six weeks things have begun to turn around. In upcoming ‘Curator’s Notes’ on our website, I’ll share with you an amazing process that I set into motion. I’ve learned a lot about microbes and mycorrhizal fungi, and the plants are beginning to wake up and grow!

But back to this “Noah’s Ark”. The flood waters are rising around the world of old roses. The Friends have built a boat to hold this collection and carry it to the future. But, it’s a leaky boat at the moment, and needs a lot of fingers plugging the holes. We can do that…all of us, together.

I wonder if you won’t consider joining me in this simple effort. Many of our members choose to be sustaining members, stretching their donation out over a year in monthly gifts of $10 or more. That helps us to budget, so that we know when the next load of mulch will arrive for the volunteers to top dress pots and feed the soil.

Three thousand nine hundred eighty. In case you’re wondering which of these are really, really rare and in jeopardy, here follows a short list.

—Gregg Lowery



above: Café

A Few Really Rare Roses, Really in Jeopardy

Omar Khayyam D

Cymbaefolia A

James Veitch M

Harison Salmon Spin

Papa Vibert P

Queen of the Bedders B

Thomasville Old Gold T

Caecilie Scharsach HP

Café Fl

Victoriana Fl

Angele Pernet HT

Demain HT

Golden Emblem HT

Mme. Chiang Kai-Shek HT

Rosa alabukensis flore plena Spx

Nigel Hawthorne S

Tigris & Euphrates S

Rosa hugonis flore plena Spx

Rosa alabukensis flore plena

above: Rosa alabukensis flore-plena