Number 37    July - August 2004



What with the Fourth of July just past us I thought it would be fun to write something on Red, White, and Blue roses for a change.

'Satchmo' - photo by Priscilla Wardlow

For red I have chosen ?Satchmo?, a scarlet-red Floribunda introduced by McGredy in 1970. While listed as a double flower, ?Satchmo? opens up to a bloom that almost looks single. This red has some fragrance and good disease resistance, making it an excellent candidate for the home garden. This rose is named in honor of Daniel Louis Armstrong, 1900?1971, one of the pivotal figures of American Jazz. For some there may be a bit too much orange in this scarlet but planted on its own, in a pot, or as a low hedge ?Satchmo? is an outstanding garden rose named for a great American. It is planted on the northwest edge of bed #12 -- stop by and pay him your respects sometime.

'Karen Blixen' - photo by Priscilla Wardlow

My white rose is more international; ?Karen Blixen,? a Hybrid Tea introduced by Poulsen of Denmark in 1994, honors the Danish writer who published under the name of Isak Dinesen, 1885?1962. Baroness Blixen?s adventures were made into the movie ?Out of Africa? and one of her short stories is the basis of the movie ?Babette?s Feast.? The rose, like its namesake, is a hardy survivor, growing to 5? with creamy-white, high-centered, pointed buds with a delightful fragrance. Poulsen hybridizes some of the most disease-free roses on the market today. Planted in bed #14, ?Karen? is one of the best of the modern crop of white roses.

What a blue rose might look like - illustration from the UK Daily Telegraph

I know my readers are just foaming at the mouth to see what I come up with for a ?Blue Rose.? Sorry to disappoint you, but believe it or not an Australian biotech firm along with a Japanese company has managed to place a blue gene into a rose by gene splicing. While it may take years to finally hybridize a true blue rose, such a thing is no longer an impossibility. The Japanese company Suntory purchased Florigene of Australia and is promoting a blue carnation on its website, so can a blue rose be far behind? Of course, all this is tightly controlled with patents and legal constraints to prevent ?gene piracy.? A ?Blue Rose? may invoke a similar response, as does the ?Green Rose,? ?Why?? I guess the answer is ?because they could!?

'Fourth of July' - photo by Monterey Bay Rose Society

Finally, a rose that combines all the patriotic feelings of our Independence Day into one rose, ?Fourth of July? is an explosion of fireworks filling the early summer sky with big sprays of long-lasting blooms. ?Fourth of July? is a climber hybridized by a Huntington Plant Sale volunteer, Tom Caruth, and introduced by Weeks Roses in 1999. Our plant is still small and unlabeled but the accompanying photo does tell the story only slightly less well than sitting through the fireworks display at the Rose Bowl this past 4th.


Magnolia dawsoniana - photo by Clair Martin

One change in the Rose Garden you may have noticed is that we have cut down the large Magnolia dawsoniana planted on the north side of the garden just above the entrance to the Japanese Garden. The tree was in general decline and nearly three-quarters dead. For the health and safety of our visitors and staff it was decided to remove the tree. You can see if you look closely at the accompanying photograph that the heartwood was showing signs of decay. We will be planting a new magnolia near where the Dawson?s magnolia was removed once we grind out the old stump.


Thanks to our intrepid Volunteers we have begun propagating roses from the garden for future plant sales. A group under the leadership of Marty Burkard meets at 9:30 on Tuesday mornings and another group meets with me on the third Saturday of each month. The next Huntington Rose Workshop will meet on Saturday, July 17th. We will assemble in my office in the Botanical Center and then proceed out into the Rose Garden to gather cuttings. Our goal is to put together a collection of own-root Huntington roses for sale at the next Great Rosarians program in January. Already we have some unique and unusual roses in the greenhouse mister. We plan to have an on-line catalog with color pictures posted on the Huntington website before the sale. If you are interested in learning rose propagation or just helping out, feel free to join one of these groups.


We have been inventorying and mapping the rose beds for some time and have finally completed this task. We are now entering the inventory into a computer and should have a printout of the collection sometime in the not too distant future. Once the computer entry is finished we will be able to create a bed and alphabetical list for you and our visitors. This should make finding a requested rose much easier as you will be able to look up a rose and find which bed it is planted in and then by checking the bed map find the exact spot where it is located. All this takes time, so hang in there and we will get inventory and maps to you.


If you haven?t noticed, the Peter & Helen Bing Children?s Garden has opened and we are now experiencing much larger crowds in the Rose Café area, spilling out into the Rose Garden most afternoons. Please make sure that you fulfill your schedule commitments because of the increased visitation. Maybe our Docents could come up with some ideas for engaging our younger visitors while their parents visit the Rose Garden?


Sylvia Clark

Remember, Sylvia Clark has taken over arranging to help find substitutes when you cannot fill your commitment. Contact her at (626) 355-5531 or email her at . Sylvia volunteered to take on this task and please extend a hearty thanks next time you see her in the garden.


The 2004 Rose Festival will be held Saturday, October 23, and Sunday, October 24, 10:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M.

Our Festival is always a fun time in the garden and, since this year we are combining this activity with the Fall Plant Sale, we are anticipating even more visitor participation than in previous years.


Clair Martin, Curator