This blog is about the Great Rosarians and is not supposed to be about me, but here I go again. This year The Huntington Rose Garden celebrates its Centennial and January 1st I celebrated my 25th anniversary at The Huntington! As one person put it, “it has been a momentous year!” January was consumed with the installation of the rose exhibit and the next three months the exhibit itself took over my life. Now in May the Rose Docents and Volunteers put together a surprise anniversary party and to say they surprised me is an understatement.
The plot was hatched in the Rose Garden one day when Judy Polinsky, Myriam Hu, and Priscilla Wardlow (all RG volunteers) started planning for an event. They eventually put together a Byzantine plot to trick me into meeting friends for lunch and then going back to the gardens to give our friends a tour of the Rose Garden. Now realize I am usually clueless, and it doesn’t take a complicated ruse to get me out of the office to lunch! But I was truly surprised to the point of being nearly speechless! No easy task in itself. As we came back from lunch and approached Banta Hall (the main entrance to the Botanical Center and my office) everyone suddenly fell back and the doors parted and all I could see was a table of food and cake and I’m told, something like 80 co-workers, Docents, Volunteers, and friends greeting me and demanding I say something. I had to actually walk up and read what the cake said to understand what it was all about.
Judy and Myriam along with Martha Burkard produced the food. Judy specializes in 18th century recipes and bakes authentic period cakes, cookies, and other goodies. Her rose bundt cake, rose cookies, and rose biscuits were nearly gone before I could even make my way to the table! Part of the problem was that we were a bit late getting back from lunch, well you drag me to one of my favorite local resturants and I’m not going to cut my lunch short!
Here Katarina Eriksson, the head gardener for the Rose and Perennial Gardens at The Huntington, is ladling out our secret rose punch. Judy Polinsky, Emina Darakjy, and I came up with the idea for this unusual punch which is no more than ginger ale, ice, and our very secret ingredient, a commercial rose water, Sence Rare European Rose Nectar. There are other rose waters on the market but Sence far exceeds them in flavor and elegance. Mix three two liter bottles of ginger ale to two 250 ml. bottles of Sence. Judy and Myriam also came up with the idea of freezing a red rose in a block of ice for decoration. Freeze about an inch of water in the bottom of a clear quart cottage cheese container then place a red rose on top and fill the remaining space with water and refreeze. Float the ice blocks in the punch and as the blocks melt the rose is exposed.
Little did I know that when I started volunteering in the Rose Garden in 1980 that I would end up becoming a full fledged rosarian and still be in the same job twenty-five years later. The support of staff and and friends over the years has been gratifying. I’ve had the great fortune to work with a group of supportive volunteers who love roses and The Huntington. They are the ones who make me look good!