By Jeri Jennings, Ventura County Rose Society
I said: “HEY! See you next weekend at the rose show!” You replied: “Rose show? Oh, no! I don’t go to rose shows. I’m not interested.”
Not interested? You’re a member of a rose society, and you’re “not interested” in rose shows? I don’t understand how that can be.
Without waxing poetical, there are two simple reasons why you should “bother” with rose shows. You go to rose shows, or take part in them, either to do good for yourself, or to do good to others. Some of you might go for both of those reasons.
I assume that you joined a rose society because you LIKE roses. You probably grow some roses. Perhaps you even grow a great many roses. You enjoy seeing roses, and being around people who share your interest in roses. You do, of course, find the requisite roses and lovers of roses at our monthly meetings, but that opens only a very small door to a very small sampling of the greater world of roses.
At a rose show, usually for free, you will see, smell, touch, and enjoy roses that, in all probability, you will never see in your neighborhood nursery. At a rose show, you will have the opportunity to pick the brains of the folks who GROW those unfamiliar, tantalizingly lovely roses. With the beauty that a rose show rolls out in front of you I can’t see why ANY lover of roses would NOT want to take advantage of the opportunity to take part, or at LEAST to go to a rose show!
What’s that you say? OH! Some of the roses you see at a rose show won’t do well in your garden? I still don’t understand! Why wouldn’t you still want to see and enjoy them, after someone ELSE did the work? I’m an artist of sorts, but I haven’t the talent to paint like Monet. I ENJOY Monet’s work, though, and I wouldn’t miss an opportunity to attend an exhibit of it (especially if there was no charge for the privilege!). Besides, you’ll find, if you ask some questions, that many of the roses you’ll see at a rose show WILL do well for you. With just a little detective work, you’ll quickly learn which is which.
When the doors open on a rose show, I walk into the room hoping to fall in love. Roses seduce me. I’m as vulnerable to their beauty as a lonely cowgirl on Saturday night . . . so I’ve learned to slow down, take a deep breath and make sure I’m not dancing with the wrong beau. When I see a rose that’s new to me, a rose that fills my eye, and makes my heart flutter ? I take myself sternly in hand, and open the entry tag. I look to see who grew it, and where it was grown. I look at the foliage. (A clever exhibitor can clean mildew away, but the disease usually leaves damage. If you look closely, you’ll spot it. And I ASK! Go to the exhibitors, and ask them about the roses they brought. They don’t mind! In fact, they’re pleased to have been asked. (THEY love roses, too, y’know.) “Does this rose mildew?” “Does it rust?” “Will it handle a cool, coastal climate?” I ask, and if I’m lucky, I may find an ‘Excellenz von Schubert,’ or a ‘Vineyard Song,’ roses that flourish in the conditions my garden offers.
If I’m not lucky, and that handsome cowboy wasn’t the fella for me, no harm done. I can still admire the fit of his jeans and the tip of his hat. After all, it didn’t cost me a thing to be there. I’ve done something good for myself by taking a few hours to visit a rose show.
The matter of Doing Unto Others . . .
I grow quite a few roses that you won’t find at the corner nursery. I’ve helped some of you discover some of those roses, and now you grow them, or others like them. (And, by the way, you’ve learned to grow them very well.) Now, I ask that you repay that debt. Look around your garden, the day or so before the next rose show, and look at your roses. Pick some with the longest stem you can. Wash the foliage off with warm water. Bring your roses to the rose show, and enter them so that others can see them, and enjoy them and maybe even fall a little bit in love.
What’s that you say? Your roses won’t WIN? True they might not. So what? How badly, after all, do you need a piece of inexpensive crystal? It’s fun to win. We’d all rather win at whatever games we play than lose at them but at a rose show, you can’t lose.
How’s that? Right, that’s what I said. YOU CAN’T LOSE at this game. You enter your rose, and the WORST thing that can happen is you make an error, and it’s disqualified. That doesn’t happen often (yes, we’ve been DQ’d, through my own error) but even if it should happen to your entry, the rose is still out there on the exhibition table. People who come to see the show still get to see it, and enjoy it. THAT is what’s important. Not the ribbons, not the trophies, but the sharing of something beautiful. There are roses that Clay and I enter at every opportunity. Some of these roses don’t please the judges. They haven’t won ANYTHING, EVER, (and we don’t expect them to) but we continue to show them. We do this, because these roses invariably catch the eye of people who come to see the show. In showing them even when we don’t win, we lose nothing. In sharing them, we gain immeasurably.
So come to a rose show, whether to help, to enter, or simply to enjoy the beauty of the show.
Reprinted from the September 2000 issue of The Ventura Rose, bulletin of the Ventura County Rose Society, Jeri Jennings, Editor.