Number 37    July - August 2004



By Clair Martin

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is pleased to announce that Mr. Peter Harkness, acclaimed rose hybridizer, gardener, author, and a Vice-President of the Royal National Rose Society will be this year?s honoree at the Great Rosarians of the World Annual Lecture on Sunday, January 23, 2005.

Mr. Peter Harkness

The Harkness family has been in the rose business as growers and nurserymen since Peter?s grandfather John Harkness founded Harkness & Sons in 1879.

After completing his schooling in Nottingham, Peter did his National Service in the army, teaching Pitman?s shorthand since he ?was too much of a hazard on the rifle range.? In 1948, Peter took a summer job on his uncle?s rose nursery, where an employee who had started with the firm in 1903 gave him his first lesson.

After college, it became obvious to Peter that ?few things could be more desirable than a life associated with people who enjoy gardening and love roses.? He joined the family firm and, along with his brother Jack, instigated a rose breeding program. This breeding program has proven to be so successful that they have received over 500 awards to date for new varieties of roses. Upon his brother?s retirement in 1977, Peter took over as Managing Director until his own retirement in 1989.

Peter served as Chairman of the Rose Growers? Association 1983-1985, President of the British Association of Rose Breeders from 1986 through 1989, and as an adviser and chairman of the judging panel to the City of Glasgow International Rose Trials. Peter was also presented with the British Rose Growers? Association?s Rose Grower?s Medal in 1989. Between 1991 and 1996, he edited The Rose for the Royal National Rose Society and is currently a Vice-President of this organization. The Society?s prestigious Dean Hold Medal was presented to Peter in 1996. Peter is also a Freeman of the City of London and Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Gardeners.

He and wife Margaret live in Letchworth Garden City, 40 miles north of London. They have two daughters, Anne and Rosemary, both of whom have roses named for them.
Peter has authored numerous books including: Modern Garden Roses, The Photographic Encyclopaedia of Roses, and Roses to Enjoy. Firefly Books published his most recent book The Rose An Illustrated History, in 2003.

Peter?s presentation will focus on his ?two special and abiding interests, roses and history.? The first has supplied his bread and butter for the past half century, and the second has been a pleasurable, lifelong study.

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A new annual addition to the Great Rosarians program will be the curated photographic exhibit entitled Grand Gardens of the Rose World. Our goal is to showcase one exemplary rose garden from across the globe that strives to preserve the history, heritage, and genetic diversity of the rose. 

The selected Grand Garden for 2005 will be the Roseto Botanico di Cavriglia "Carla Fineschi".

Roseto Botanico di Cavriglia "Carla Fineschi" - photo by Andy Clark

Professor Gianfranco Fineschi founded this collection of nearly 7,000 different varieties of roses almost 30 years ago. The garden - nestled in the Tuscan hills of Italy - equidistant between Florence, Siena, and Arezzo - is considered one of the largest private collections of roses in the world. For a preview of this garden, please see Andy Clark?s article covering his recent visit there.

The guest curator for the 2005 exhibit is Marily Young, Vice-Director of the Roseto. Marily is currently working with Professor Fineschi to conserve and propagate the many rare and/or otherwise unavailable roses from his garden.

The premiere of Grand Gardens of the Rose World exhibit will be held during the California Gold Banquet. The exhibit will be on display in the Botanical Complex at The Huntington during the weekend of the Great Rosarians program and the week following. It will be accessible to all ticket holders, Huntington Members, and visitors.

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The annual California Gold Banquet recognizing this year?s honoree will be held on Saturday, January 22nd in the Botanical Center.

Banquet participants will be treated to live music and docent-led tours of The Huntington?s new Bing Children?s Garden, as well as participating in the unveiling of our inaugural Grand Gardens of the Rose World exhibit during the cocktail hour. Following dinner, there will be a presentation honoring our speaker and our Huntington Rose Garden Volunteers.

On Sunday, our new Rosarian?s Corner - held in the Friends Hall-adjacent Overseers Room - will begin with a light lunch buffet, offered from 12:00 Noon to 1:00 P.M. From 1:00 to 2:15 P.M. this space, along with the Garden Terrace, will be made open to all ticket holders.

Following the Sunday Program, ticket holders are invited to join in honoring Peter with coffee and cake. After presentation of his cake, he will be available for a book signing on the Garden Terrace.

The fifth Great Rosarians of the World Annual Lecture will be held at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California on Sunday, January 23, 2005 at 2:30 P.M. in Friends Hall.

Tickets for Great Rosarians of the World V will go on sale on 1 November 2004 and are $25 per person for Huntington Members, $40 for non-members. We will continue to offer the Members? discount to local Rose Society and American Rose Society members. Tickets for the California Gold Banquet are $45 per person. Tickets for the Rosarians Corner Buffet Lunch are $15 per person. This year we are offering Members of the Huntington and Rose Society Members a Great Rosarians package that includes the California Gold Banquet, Rosarians Corner Buffet Lunch, and admission to the Great Rosarians of the World V Lecture for $80, a savings of $20 over the non-member price.

Menus will be posted on the Huntington website at a later date.

NOTE: A Plant Sale of Huntington-grown, own-root roses is scheduled for Sunday from 10:30 A.M. to 2:00 P.M and will be held on the lawn directly in front of the Entrance Pavilion. A color catalog and prices will be posted on the Huntington website as soon as it?s available.

** More exciting additions to our Lecture events are planned, so check in regularly at The Huntington?s website, at or contact Clair Martin at 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, CA 91108. Phone: 626.405.3507 Fax: 626.405.3501 Email:

Clair Martin, Rose and Perennial Gardens Curator