The Autumnal Return of the Roses: Upcoming Regional Rose Shows

Photo: Our native Rosa californica.

Between now and the the end of October, the Northstate will host two regional rose shows with longstanding traditions: On October 12, at Wyntour Gardens in Redding the Shasta Rose Society host their 28th annual rose show – this year with a theme of Halloween. They will be open for entries from 6:30 am until 9:30 am. On Oct 19th The Butte Rose Society will hold its (www.butte-rosesociety.org) 19th Annual Butte Rose Show the theme for which is A Festival of Roses, in Chico at Our Divine Savior Church Social Hall 566 East Lassen. Entries will be accepted from 6:30 – 10:00 am the morning of the show, and the show will be open to the public from 1:00 – 4:00 pm. Entry is free and open to the public for both shows.

Flower shows have a long and illustrious history for American gardeners – The Philadelphia Flower Show was the first official American Flower show in 1829. I have my grandfather’s 1936 edition of The Garden Encyclopedia published by Wise & Co. My grandfather was a keen gardener and especially loved collecting and caring for camellias and roses in his South Carolina garden. The entry in the encyclopedia about Exhibiting begins with: “Why Exhibit? It is perfectly natural if one has grown a beautiful rose or dahlia, a fine egg-plant or a good bunch of grapes to enjoy showing in competition with similar products grown by others. It is a game of skill, and has all the amusement and interest (of such).”

When it comes to our regional rose shows, I have been assured by our two rose societies and their enthusiastic members that this “game of skill” is competition of the healthy and fun-loving, growing your own knowledge kind.

Photo: A praying mantis trying to decide if this Peace rose is the most fragrant?.

Robert Parker of the Shasta Rose Society says that “A rose show is an opportunity to share with the public the wonderful diversity found in the rose family. One of the comments that I hear most often at shows is “Is that really a rose? I never knew they could look like that.. It looks more like an apple blossom.” There is also the fun of the competition, it’s not the award, it is just the fact that your rose was nicer than the other guys. There is no fee to attend and no fee to enter. We usually have about 15 or 20 different members enter roses in the show. You do not have to be a member to enter, just live in Shasta, Siskiyou, Tehama, Butte. Lassen, Trinity, Glenn, or Modoc county.”


For the radio portion of this week’s program, I interviewed two members of the Butte Rose Society – Gwen Quail and Neva Youngs. They are both long-time rose growers, enthusiasts and active members of the rose society.

One of the great advantages of being part of the show or of attending the show is the fun of learning about the huge number and variety of roses that grow well in our area. You learn names, colors, fragrances.

Home-gardeners who have never before participated in a show are encouraged to give it a try – and at very least stop by the shows and see what it’s all about. Mostly fun – but also some sport. There are many, many categories for rose growers to enter from mini-roses to dried roses to arrangements, rose needlework, rose paintings, rose photography, activities for kids and a new entry at the Butte Rose Society entitled “This Bud’s for Bill” in which you just need to enter a rose bud showing a little color, but not open, and everything in between. And best news for me is that each of these categories has a novice section – just for us beginners. We might as well take advantage of this small edge while we can.

At the Butte Rose Society’s Festival of Roses the horticulture division (in which you just enter one rose stem in one bottle) entries include: hybrid teas, grandifloras, floribundas, minifloras, miniature, modern shrub roses, minifloras, landscape roses, polyanthas and old garden roses.

Photo: Glorious rose hips on our native Rosa nutkana Could be a nice addition to the Rose Hips division at the show, or to an arrangement celebrating Northern California Treasures.

The theme for the artistic arrangements is “Northern California Treasures,” and features class themes such as Lake Oroville, The Sutter Buttes, The Snow Goose Festival and Caper Acres, to mention a few.

Neva Youngs points out in our radio interview that IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN PARTICIPATING in the rose shows, you are still in pretty good time to prepare your roses for being ready to show! THIS WEEKEND, dead head all your roses back (cutting back to the next 5-part leaflet below the dead head). Fertilize with a rose-specific (preferably organic) food, and water regularly from now till the show. You should have new blooms and buds to work with in 4 -6 weeks.

For more information on entering or attending either of these rose shows, please contact the following:

Butte Rose Society: Bill Reynolds, 530- 343-9707.

Shasta Rose Society: President, Robert Parker: bobsanpark@gmail.com

Below are a few tips from long-time rose grower and Butte Rose Society member Angela Handy on how to make your first, or any flower show, an enjoyable learning experience:

1. Just do it. What have you got to lose. It’s a real thrill to win a ribbon or even an award for one of your entries.
2. Get a copy of the Rose show schedule By emailing the contacts for each society at the end of this article), rules and regulations. It explains everything you need to know about entering a rose, a spray of roses, or an arrangement into the show.
3. Don’t pre-judge yourself. Everyone in the area has had the same weather conditions you have had and their roses are probably looking similar to yours. And you won’t know if yours are better unless you try.

4. Look around your garden 2 days before the show. Think about which roses are looking good – which have buds that are beginning to open or even ones that are partially open. You can refrigerate the partially open ones until the morning of the show to stall them, or cut buds the morning of the day before and put them in warm water to try to entice them to open.

5. If you have a great looking rose that has some slightly blemished petal or leaves, grooming is fair: remove ugly leaves or petals trying to keep size and flower proportion in mind. You can take away anything, but you cannot add leaves or petals. If you are entering a fully open rose, you can even remove some of the very small center petals in order to show off the center to best advantage.

6. You can display a rose with rose foliage that did did not come with that flower but you cannot use foliage from other plants. Some foliage with each blossom looks good.When grooming leaves, you may wash or rub away water spots, but you may not use a polish of any kind.

7. Unless you are entering a Mystery Class, you do need to know the name of the roses you are entering, but people at the rose shows can often help you with that the morning of the show.

8. Each entry must be accompanied by a tag, filled out top and bottom, listing the entry name and class and your name and address. Those irritating self-adhesive return address stickers that organizations send you in the mail come in handy for filling out these cards. All cards are available at the show the morning of the show.

9. Unless entering special categories for arrangements or otherwise, entries should be displayed in a clear glass vase. Vases are available at the entry tables, but if your bring your own please mark the bottom with your name and number. Again those sticky return address stickers work well for this.

10. Cut your roses as long as you can so that they sit right up and look the judges in the eye. If they tip to one side, you can bolster them a bit with a folder paper or a styrofoam peanut as seen here.

11. If you are entering a spray rose, you must have at least two flowers in bloom – but more is better. If there is a spent bloom on the spray, carefully cut it out with small sharp scissors. Cuticle scissors work well.

12. Bring a notebook and pencil to take notes on the roses you like.

Have fun! You will be in for a room and day full of lovely roses and rose lovers.

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In a North State Garden is a weekly Northstate Public Radio and web-based program celebrating the art, craft and science of home gardening in Northern California. It is made possible in part by the Gateway Science Museum – Exploring the Natural History of the North State and on the campus of CSU, Chico. In a North State Garden is conceived, written, photographed and hosted by Jennifer Jewell – all rights reserved jewellgarden.com. In a North State Garden airs on Northstate Public Radio Saturday mornings at 7:34 AM Pacific time and Sunday morning at 8:34 AM Pacific time.

Jennifer Jewell
In a North State Garden is a bi-weekly North State Public Radio and web-based program celebrating the art, craft and science of home gardening in Northern California and made possible in part by the Gateway Science Museum - Exploring the Natural History of the North State and on the campus of CSU, Chico. In a North State Garden is conceived, written, photographed and hosted by Jennifer Jewell - all rights reserved jewellgarden.com. In a North State Garden airs on Northstate Public Radio Saturday morning at 7:34 AM Pacific time and Sunday morning at 8:34 AM Pacific time, two times a month.
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