El Cerrito’s annual “Celebration of Old Roses” is Sunday, May 17
April and May belong to old roses. Whether they climb a fence, or explode on their own with gorgeous sprays of colorful and fragrant blooms, they are a source of pure delight. With names that run the gamut from “Tuscany” to “Ispahan” to “Baron Girod d l’Ain,” heritage roses evoke history and poetry. Rose lovers will get their fix this Sunday at El Cerrito’s annual Celebration of Old Roses, one of the few remaining places where we can see, smell, talk and purchase old roses. The annual spring event is sponsored by the Heritage Roses Group (HRGBA) and takes place this Sunday at the El Cerrito Community Center from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Officially, old roses, or antique roses, are varieties that date from 1860 or earlier. Their attractiveness grows from their wonderful rich and varied fragrances and graceful growth habits which make them ideal for the garden and disease resistance. Once established, many are drought tolerant too, so in these times when many are culling plants to save water, an old rose can make sense. For those feeling too guilty to think of planting in these times, the celebration in El Cerrito is a chance to see it all without the responsibility of ownership. Much like a delightful old-fashioned country fair, people gather round to ohh and ahh its focal point—a 100-foot plus display of freshly picked old roses in old-fashioned mason jars, all in glorious states of bloom. The roses are organized by class—gallicas, centifolias, damasks, mosses, hybrid chinas, bourbons, portlands, chinas, teas, eglantines, floribundas and others. There is ample opportunity to explore the nuances of each variety—fragrance, color, size, petal count, foliage and growth habit.
In addition to the display, rose experts who have made it their mission to save and perpetuate this diverse group of plants will be on hand to answer questions.
Have a rose that you can’t identify? Just put a complete cutting (full bloom, bud and some foliage) in a jar and bring it to the event and the experts will try to identify your rose.
Vendors will also be selling rare perennials, and crafts, china, books, greeting cards, calendars, honey, jam, jewelry, and clothing, all inspired by roses. Tool sharpening will also be available on site, so bring your clippers and loppers. This year, all children attending the event will receive a free rose plant, courtesy of Tom Liggett and HRGBA.
noon talk “Where have all the Roses Gone,” Gregg Lowery, Sonoma County Rosarian — With the general downsizing of nurseries, the 2014 closure of Sebastopol’s globally acclaimed Vintage Gardens, which sold hundreds of rare heritage roses, we’re all wondering where have all the roses gone? Lowery will talk about what’s happened, what the prospects are for buying and preserving heritage roses in the future and the importance of roses to human history and culture.
Details: El Cerrito’s Celebration of Old Roses, Sunday May 17, 2015, El Cerrito Community Center, 7007 Moeser Lane, El Cerrito. 11 am to 3:30 p.m. Free. If you plan to buy roses or plants, bring cash. For more information, call Kristina Osborn at The Heritage Roses Group (510) 527-3815 or visit http://www.celebrationofoldroses.org
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