Category Archives: GROW

The Great Rosarian?

GROW lJust 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.


DAni Hahn copy

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!


Leave a comment

Filed under GROW, Uncategorized


I love that the world of roses is so diverse.  Those of us who consider ourselves “Rosarians” often are totaly ignorant of the broader world around us.  Who knew that there was a world of rose pastries?  

While in New York for the Great Rosarians East lecture in early April, Priscilla and I had breakfast with an artist friend of Priscilla’s.  For those not acquainted with my life, Priscilla is my house mate and someone who is very important to me.  

Carol is an artist who specializes in painting French pastries and has a blog entitled Paris Breakfasts.  Carol, lives in New York, and travels frequently to France to explore the streets and bistros of Paris for subjects to paint.  She specializes in French pastries, yes it is a niche, but she fills it with élan.

Priscilla and I met Carol at Artie’s Delicatessen around 83rd and Broadway on the upper East side.  Artie’s is one of my favorite places to have breakfast. Try the bagels and lox.  We had a great conversation that morning and Carol directed us to a number of places to visit on our free day in the city.  But the important   thing for this blog is that Carol, who paints pastries, and I discovered we shared a connection over roses and specifically the rose ‘Ispahan.’  Go figure, who would have thought that a rosarian and and a Francophile pastry artist would make such a connection.  Carol shared her recent Paris adventure and it became evident that we had much in common — rosewise.

Her blog, Paris Breakfasts is a charming stream of consciousness on her trips and experiences in Paris exploring the world of French pastries.  In search of her art, Carol explores and samples the art of French baking and then renders her subjects in water color…consuming the product once it is rendered to paper.

Carol’s current facination with the world of pastry is Pierre Hermé, whom Vogue magazine called “the Picasso of Pastry.”  The topic of Carol’s most recent visit to Pierre Hermé is the Ispahan series of pastries. Her blog of April 11, 2008 explores in depth these delectable delights. Carol was as unaware of the rose ‘Ispahan’ as I was of Pierre Hermé’s pastries!  What a delight to learn and share our mutual experiences!

Do check out Carol’s blog Paris Breakfasts and explore Paris as few have experenced it and discover this hidden world of roses.  She also reveals a world of French florists that I had never seen and one we all can learn from.  The French have a way with flowers and these boquets bring a fresh Parisian charm to the table.

The next time you sit down over breakfast with a stranger don’t be reluctant to bring up your love of roses…you never know where roses will take you.


Illustrations by Carol Gillott.

1 Comment

Filed under GROW

A Start

The idea of blogging is new to me and setting up a blog daunting.  This new   electronic media presents challenges but on the other hand creating a place where others who share my interests and the love of roses can come together and exchange ideas is an exciting one.

The idea of the Great Rosarians of the World Annual Lecture originated in 2000 as a way to bring together the men and women who have made substantial contributions to our understanding and love of the rose and to provide these outstanding rosarians a venue to share their work with a wider audience.  Beginning in 2001 and continuing through this year we have recognized a grand total of ten Great Rosarians. And now with the expansion of the series to the East coast and our partnership with the Manhattan Rose Society and the New York Metropolitan Rose Counsel we have a truly national reach.

My hope for this blog is not just to continue the discussion of the Great Rosarians program but to expand its outreach and create a community of like-minded people to discuss issues and ideas to help promote rose growing around the world.  Eventually, I hope to expand this blog to other writer/editors from other regions to make regular postings and share their experiences growing roses.  

If I could distill a theme from the past eight Great Rosarians programs it would be “Roses are Easy” which confronts the standard wisdom that “roses are difficult.”  Those of us who love and grow roses know in our hearts the truth:  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to grow healthy, fragrant, ever blooming roses with a minimum of effort.  Today’s gardeners, with all the time constrants of job and family, have little time or patience with difficult plants that require heavy doses of chemicals to keep growing and survive the onslaughts of bugs and disease.

It took nearly two hundred years to select the rose as our national flower and less than thirty years to bring down the Queen of Flowers to a less than popular garden plant.  Our world is changing all around us and if rose growing and the love of roses is to thrive we must find new ways to promote growing and our love of roses with a new generation of gardeners.



Leave a comment

Filed under GROW