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Geneva Anderson digs into art

Love old Roses? This Sunday’s 33rd Celebration of Old Roses in El Cerrito will have hundreds and it’s free

Oeillet Panachée (1888, striped moss, Verdier) Most of the old striped cultivars are gallicas. Striped moss roses are known to have occurred as sports.  ‘Oeillet Panachée’ is the only one still around today, and has square-tipped petals that are striped blush and crimson with a distinctly old-world sensibility and strong fragrance.  I waited two years for this rose to bloom.  Photo: Geneva Anderson

Oeillet Panachée (1888, striped moss, Verdier) Most of the old striped cultivars are gallicas. Striped moss roses are known to have occurred as sports. ‘Oeillet Panachée’ is the only one still around today, and has square-tipped petals that are striped blush and crimson with a distinctly old-world sensibility and strong fragrance. I waited two years for this rose to bloom. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Who doesn’t love old roses?  A symbol of beauty, love, war and politics, roses have their place in history and our hearts.  I’ll be swimming in roses this Sunday at El Cerrito’s 33rd annual Celebration of Old Roses…it’s a yearly trek I make along with a number of other old rose devotees from all over California where we can see, smell and talk old roses with other addicts. The annual spring event is sponsored by the Heritage Roses Group and takes place at the El Cerrito Community Center from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Old roses or antique roses are varieties that date from 1860 or earlier.  Their attractiveness grows from their wonderful rich and varied fragrances, graceful growth habit which makes them ideal for the garden and disease resistance.

The celebration in El Cerrito works like an old-fashioned country fair—visitors walk along and encounter a wonderful menagerie of mason jars filled with freshly picked old roses which have been organized by class—gallicas, centifolias, damasks, mosses, hybrid chinas, bourbons, portlands, chinas, teas, eglantines, floribundas and others—all in glorious states of bloom.  There is ample opportunity to explore the nuances of each variety—fragrance, color, size, petal count, foliage and growth habit– and there are educational rose books, light refreshments and a proliferation of rosy knick-knacks.   You are also welcome to bring your own roses for display, including any mysterious roses you need identified for the “Unidentified Rose Table.”   Children will receive free rose plants and there will be some fun activities to keep them occupied.  And, of course, there are old rose vendors from all over who will be selling rare old roses, most of which are own root roses.  Last year, I bought an unidentified but very hearty looking rose in a pot for $7 and it turned out to be Superb Tuscan…a major coup!

Souvenir d'Alphonse Lavallée (1884, hybrid perpetual, Verdier) was named after one of the Presidents of the national French Horticultural Society.  The flowers are 3 inches wide and have exceptional form, with many petals, deeply cupshaped in early stages.  In later stages, some of the outer petals reflex a bit and the inner petals are quartered making the flower more shallow cupshaped. In early stages the flowers are a deep pomegranate red with crimson shadings, but as they age they turn a deep royal purple.  Richly fragrant.  Photo: Geneva Anderson

Souvenir d’Alphonse Lavallée (1884, hybrid perpetual, Verdier) was named after one of the Presidents of the national French Horticultural Society. The flowers are 3 inches wide and have exceptional form, with many petals, deeply cupshaped in early stages. In later stages, some of the outer petals reflex a bit and the inner petals are quartered making the flower more shallow cupshaped. In early stages the flowers are a deep pomegranate red with crimson shadings, but as they age they turn a deep royal purple. Richly fragrant. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Among purveyors and supporters of old roses, Vintage Gardens of Sebastopol, stands out.  Over the years, it has emerged as one of the country’s prime suppliers of rare old roses.  Its owners, rose gurus, Gregg Lowery and Phillip Robinson, through their enthusiasm and thoughtful scholarship, have really raised awareness and interest in these lovely plants.  A dog-eared and pen-marked copy of their  Vintage Gardens Complete Catalogue of Antique and Extraordinary Roses is staple in any serious collector’s home.  This must-have catalogue gives an utterly riveting blow by blow accounting of the properties of nearly 3000 old and very rare roses.   For the past 29 years, Vintage Gardens has persisted through boom and bust but, like so many rose nurseries, it has finally succumbed to economic hard times and will stop selling roses on June 30, 2013.  This comes as a blow to those in the rose community and will mean a very significant loss of resources to lover of old roses who have been buying rare roses from Gregg Lowery for years.  Without Vintage Gardens, my antique rose garden, and many other Bay Area old rose gardens, would not exist.   With their help, I’ve added some 150 plants to my garden over the past 14 years, a true labor of love.

Thanks to the efforts of a group of old rose lovers, Lowery’s collection of several thousand old roses that he developed with Phillip Robinson beginning in the late 1970’s, will be saved.  A new non-profit,  the Friends of Vintage Roses, assisted by the Heritage Rose Foundation, has begun the work of stabilizing and restoring the collection of old and rare roses that once numbered over 5000 varieties.  Gregg will be in El Cerrito this weekend and it’s bound to be an emotional experience.  Stay-tuned to ARThound for more coverage of Vintage Gardens closing.

Léda (1827, damask) also known as Painted Damask, is an Old Garden Rose of unknown origins that appeared in England around 1827.  "Leda" comes from Greek mythology: Leda was the Queen of Sparta and as a maiden was seduced by Zeus disguised as a swan. Out of that union came the beautiful and disastrous Helen of Troy.  Produced in clusters, Leda’s buds are at first a deep, dark red and then open to full white blooms edged richly with pink with a button eye at center and a strong damask fragrance.  The foliage is atypical for a damask rose, being rounded and dusky green, folded up along the midribs.  Photo: Geneva Anderson

Léda (1827, damask) also known as Painted Damask, is an Old Garden Rose of unknown origins that appeared in England around 1827. “Leda” comes from Greek mythology: Leda was the Queen of Sparta and as a maiden was seduced by Zeus disguised as a swan. Out of that union came the beautiful and disastrous Helen of Troy. Produced in clusters, Leda’s buds are at first a deep, dark red and then open to full white blooms edged richly with pink with a button eye at center and a strong damask fragrance. The foliage is atypical for a damask rose, being rounded and dusky green, folded up along the midribs. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Old rose events like the one in El Cerrito sustain those of us who are hungry to see, smell and compare rare roses and to road test the extensive knowledge we’ve gleaned from late-night reading and dog-earring of our rose books.

Annabella DeMattei, founder of Luna Fina, distills special roses in organic brandy and distilled water to create healing and aligning Rose Chakra Flower Essences which she sells in sets or individually.  Each bottle comes with a delightful card, an artwork itself, which explains all about the drops and their properties.

Annabella DeMattei, founder of Luna Fina, distills special roses in organic brandy and distilled water to create healing and aligning Rose Chakra Flower Essences which she sells in sets or individually. Each bottle comes with a delightful card, an artwork itself, which explains all about the drops and their properties.

Another fabulous aspect of El Cerrito’s celebration is the chance to try and buy some very high quality and in some cases, unusual, rose products. Last year, I had a delightful conversation with Annabella DeMattei, Luna Fina founder, who distills special roses in organic brandy and distilled water to create Rose Chakra Flower Essences. Widely used as traditional remedies, flower essences are respected for their abilities to promote physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. Annabella says that each of her essences is attuned to one of the seven chakras and a few drops on a regular basis will provide a unique opportunity to summon forth the full experiential bounty of the chakras, which each hold certain qualities representing aspects of the self. She chooses special roses to distill that correspond with both the color and qualities of each chakra and sells them as sets. These drops have been a huge hit with my friends. Do drop by and explain your issues to Annabella and she’ll rosey you up.  While roaming the vendor area, you have your graden tools sharpened by Eric the Joiner.

Heritage Roses Group: Rose shows require extensive planning, organization and support. The Heritage Roses Group, formed in 1975, which has Bay Area chapter, is a community of those who care about old garden roses, species roses, old or unusual roses – particularly those roses introduced into commerce prior to the year 1867. The group’s purposes are to preserve, enjoy, and share knowledge about the old roses.  Every year, the San Francisco bay Area Chapter sponsors the Celebration of Old Roses on the Sunday after Mother’s Day at the El Cerrito Community Center.   For upcoming roses events that the group or its members sponsor, click here.

Details: El Cerrito’s 31st annual Celebration of Old Roses, Sunday May 18, 2011, from 11 to 3:30 p.m.  El Cerrito Community Center, 7007 Moeser Lane, El Cerrito. There is no admission charge.  Wheelchair accessible.  Ample street parking.  More information:  online flyer: http://www.celebrationofoldroses.org/celebration-of-old-roses.php or phone Kristina Osborn/ The Heritage Roses Group (510) 527-3815

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May 17, 2013 Posted by | Gardening | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Love old roses? This Sunday’s 32nd Celebration of Old Roses in El Cerrito will have hundreds and it’s free

Tuscany Superb, pre-1837, known in ancient times as “Old Velvet,” is well-named. Its flowers are deep crimson to maroon when they first open, taking on the appearance of crushed velvet, and take on black and purple tones as they age. Photo: Geneva Anderson

May belongs to old roses.  Whether they climb on a fence, or explode on their own with sprays of colorful and fragrant blooms, or flavor gourmet ice cream, they are a source of pure delight.  I’ll be in rose rhapsody this Sunday at El Cerrito’s 32nd annual Celebration of Old Roses.  This is a yearly trek to the I make along with a number of other old rose devotees from all over California where we can see, smell and talk old roses with other addicts.  The annual spring event is sponsored by the Heritage Roses Group and takes place at the El Cerrito Community Center from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

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.  The celebration in El Cerrito works a lot like an old-fashioned country fair.  The focal point is a 100-foot plus display of freshly picked old roses in old-fashioned mason jars, all in glorious states of bloom and 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.  There are  educational rose books, light refreshments, and a proliferation of rosy knick-knacks—greeting cards, essential oils, jewelry, scarves, painted china, rose-flavored jam and honey.  And, of course, there are old rose vendors from all over (Vintage Gardens from Sonoma County) who will be selling rare old roses, most of which are own root roses.

Monsieur Tillier, a glorious tea rose that repeats several times and has a remarkable color—salmon and peachy shades of pink blended with deeper pinks that change over the course of its bloom. The result is an ever-changing spectrum of lush color. Photo: Geneva Anderson

I was seriously hooked on roses about 20 years ago, when I was working as a journalist in Bulgaria and wrote about rose attar and the world famous annual rose harvest festival in Kazanlik.  After encountering acres and acres of richly fragrant damask roses, I too wanted a piece of the action. From there, it’s been a joyous ride, that first required me to put down some roots of my own.  Now, settled in the country Sonoma County and growing about 100 old roses on two properties with differing microclimates, I am living out my rose dream…but there are NEVER enough roses.

When our local Sebastopol rose gurus, Gregg Lowery and Phillip Robinson, went exclusively mail order with their revered antique rose nursery Vintage Gardens, we lost one of the best hands-on rose education experiences to be had in Northern, CA.  With their very livelihood in jeopardy, they won’t be having their annual open garden this year which, for years, has showcased their fabulous collection of some 3,600 rare and old roses (all labeled).  Old rose events like the one in El Cerrito have to sustain those of us who are hungry to see rare roses and to road test the extensive knowledge we’ve gleaned from late-night reading and dog-earring of our rose books.

My bible is the Vintage Gardens Complete Catalogue of Antique and Extraordinary Roses. This must-have catalogue gives an utterly riveting blow by blow accounting of the properties of nearly 3000 old and very rare roses, the largest list of roses offered by any nursery in the world today. Consulting rosarians like Gregg Lowery will in be El Cerrito on Sunday, answering questions and identifying old roses.  His enthusiasm for old roses is legendary and if you have a chance, do stop by and let him know how much his efforts in bringing us rare roses are appreciated.

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.

Another fabulous aspect of El Cerrito’s celebration is the chance to try and buy some very high quality rose products. Last year, I purchased some delightful “Rose Embrace” rose eau de toilette from Healdsburg perfumers Jan and Michael Tolmasoff who run the Russian River Rose Company. The Tolmasoffs are the real-deal–they grow hundreds of damask roses and harvest their own petals to make their own unique rose scents. They also offer hands-on perfume rose harvest tours at their Healdsburg rose ranch where they have over 650 varieties of roses.  I also bought some Green Rose Chakra Flower Essence by Luna Fina, laced with vodka, that promised to help align my chakras and am definitely getting more of those.

Summer Damask is an abundantly fragrant ancient rose from which rose attar is obtained. It blooms but once a year in massive pure pink sprays with very spiky thorns, loaded with blooms and with very soft, green gray leaves. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Rose shows require extensive planning, organization and support.  The Heritage Roses Group, formed in 1975, is a fellowship of those who care about old garden roses, species roses, old or unusual roses – particularly those roses introduced into commerce prior to the year 1867.  The group’s purposes are to preserve, enjoy, and share knowledge about the old roses.

Details: El Cerrito’s 32nd annual Celebration of Old Roses, Sunday May 20, 2012, El Cerrito Community Center, 7007 Moeser Lane, El Cerrito. 11 am to 3:30 p.m. There is no admission charge.  For information, call Kristina Osborn at The Heritage Roses Group (510) 527-3815, or visit http://www.celebrationofoldroses.org

May 17, 2012 Posted by | Gardening | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Love old roses? This Sunday’s 31st Celebration of Old Roses in El Cerrito will have hundreds and it’s free

The continuous blooming and highly fragrant Moss rose James Vietch is prized among collectors of old roses. The rose has deep crimson-purple flowers, globular in bud form, opening wide with layered and folded petals which tone from amaranth to pink with very mossy green sepals.

I’ll be in rose rhapsody this Sunday  at El Cerrito’s 31st annual Celebration of Old Roses…it’s a yearly trek I make along with a number of other old rose devotees from all over California where we can see, smell and talk old roses with other addicts.   The annual spring event is sponsored by the Heritage Roses Group and takes place at the El Cerrito Community Center from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The concept is simple—complete old rose immersion. Old roses or antique roses are varieties that date from 1860 or earlier.   Their attractiveness grows from their wonderful rich and varied fragrances, graceful growth habit which makes them ideal for the garden and diesease resistance.   The celebration in El Cerrito works like a old-fashioned country fair—visitors walk along and encounter a wonderful menagerie of mason jars filled with freshly picked old roses which have been organized by class—gallicas, centifolias, damasks, mosses, hybrid chinas, bourbons, portlands, chinas, teas, eglantines, floribundas and others—all in glorious states of bloom. There is ample opportunity to explore the nuances of each variety—fragrance, color, size, petal count, foliage and growth habit– and there are educational rose books, light refreshments and a proliferation of rosy knick-knacks.  The event also includes a silent auction for old roses .   And, of course, there are old rose vendors from all over (Vintage Gardens  from Sonoma County) who will be selling rare old roses, most of which are own root roses.

Vintage Garden’s catalogue of old roses is a descriptive compendium of some 3,000 old roses and the Bible for many collectors. It and many other rose resources will be offered at El Cerrito’s 31st annual Celebration of Old Roses on May 15, 2011.

I was seriously hooked on roses about 20 years ago when I was working as a journalist in Bulgaria and wrote about rose attar and the world famous annual rose harvest festival in Kazanlik.  After encountering acres and acres of richly fragrant damask roses, I too wanted a piece of the action.  From there, it’s been a joyous ride, that first required me to put down some roots of my own.  Now, settled in the country Sonoma County and growing about 100 old roses on two properties with differing microclimates, I am living out my rose dream…but there are NEVER enough roses.

When our local Sebastopol rose gurus, Gregg Lowery and Phillip Robinson, went exclusively mail order with their revered antique rose nursery Vintage Gardens, we lost one of the best hands-on rose education experiences to be had in Northern, CA.   All the more disappointing,  they won’t be having their annual open garden showcasing their fabulous collection of some 3,600 rare and old roses (all labeled).   Old rose events like the one in El Cerrito have to sustain those of us who are hungry to see rare roses and to road test the extensive knowledge we’ve gleaned from late-night reading and dog-earring of our rose books.   My bible is the Vintage Gardens Complete Catalogue of Antique and Extraordinary Roses.  This must-have catalogue gives an utterly riveting blow by blow accounting of the properties of nearly 3000 old and very rare roses, the largest list of roses offered by any nursery in the world today.  Consulting rosarians like Gregg Lowery will in be El Cerrito on Sunday, answering questions and identifying old roses  at the “mystery” table.  This is the chance to have any roses from your own garden identified—just put a complete cutting ( full bloom, bud and some foliage) in a jar and bring them to the event and the experts will try to identify them for you.

Another fabulous aspect of El Cerrito’s celebration is the chance to try and buy some very high quality rose products.  Last year, I purchased some delightful “Rose Embrace” rose eau de toilette from Healdsburg  perfumers Jan and Michael Tolmasoff who run the Russian River Rose Company.   The Tolmasoffs are the real-deal–they grow hundreds of damask roses and harvest their own petals to make their own unique rose scents.  They also offer hands-on rose harvest tours at their Healdsburg rose ranch where they have over 600 roses.

Rose shows require extensive planning, organization and support.  The Heritage Roses Group, formed in 1975, is a fellowship of those who care about old garden roses, species roses, old or unusual roses – particularly those roses introduced into commerce prior to the year 1867.  The group’s purposes are to preserve, enjoy, and share knowledge about the old roses.

Details:  El Cerrito’s 31st annual Celebration of Old Roses, Sunday May 15, 2011, El Cerrito Community Center, 7007 Moeser Lane, El Cerrito. 11 am to 3:30 p.m.  There is no admission charge.

 

May 12, 2011 Posted by | Gardening | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment