Just what is the Great Rosarian? One answer is the program was conceived to honor the men and women who have enriched our knowledge and enjoyment of the Queen of Flowers and provide a venue for rosarians from around the world to have the opportunity to discuss their life’s work and present it to a wide audience of the gardening public.
Over time what it has become is a bit more complex. After this year’s programs on the West and East Coasts I took the opportunity to reflect and delve deeper into how the program has evolved over its 14 year span. It has become clear that we have also focused on presenting diversity in the rose world. By that I mean we haven’t simply focused on one phase of the rose growing hobby, but we have attempted to present a broad representation of the rose. Instead of a focus on just hybridizers (and we have presented a number) or nurserymen, we have evolved into a program that purposefully hunted out new trends and delved deeper in discovering what is a rose, culturally.
It is patently clear that a number of our choices for the award have raised the hackles of the organized rose elite. How could we honor someone they’ve never heard of? How could GROW skip over the usual suspects and select someone who, in their eyes, has a much shorter list of accomplishments? While I must acknowledge that a number of our honorees have not been at the forefront of the world of organized rose societies, the goal has been to dig a bit deeper and discover those people who have made significant contributions in our understanding of the diversity of the rose.
While we have honored hybridizers, photographers, authors, nurserymen, scholars etc., we have attempted to present rosarians who may not be household names but who have made positive contributions to our love of our National Floral Emblem.
One honoree in particular was strongly criticized by many in the West Coast rose world. My answer remains that his roses have been a way for us to bring back into the fold many who abandoned growing roses because they felt the rose was difficult to grow. While those of us in the know understand that the rose is among the simplest of garden flowers to grow, and that the right rose can outbloom just about any other flowering shrub you can name, a large number of potential rose growers reject outright the rose from their gardens.
In our enthusiasm to promote rose growing we have complicated how we present our information to the public to the point where the average home gardner is convinced that growing healthy roses is just too time-consuming and difficult. We feed this belief by just about everything we teach, and write. We present rules for spraying to control pests and diseases that seems to be beyond what any sensible prospective home gardener would want to take on. On the other hand, our GROW honorees have presented positive advice on reintroducing roses into the modern landscape. Demystifying the rose has been a constant theme over the years of GROW.
Our current honoree, Dani Hahn, of Rose Story Farm, is a positive influence in this new model of rose growing. She has developed a business model for a small rose family farm that many are attempting to emulate. Her positive attitude towards rose growing is contagious. Over the years she has expanded her business beyond field grown cut roses into rose tourism, weddings, rose-themed gifts, and rose-related events. She is in the forefront of presenting gardening to young children as something special. With her positive outlook and presentations, she just may be influencing the next generations of rosarians.
Our wish is that GROW has and will continue to demonstrate the diversity and joy we all find in the rose. Each of us holds in our mind a different vision of what a rose is. There are many aspects of the rose yet to be explored and how exciting that is!