Number 41   March - April 2005


By Clair Martin

Garden News

'Blushing Knockout'

All the rain we have been experiencing has presented us in the gardens with a number of problems. Saturated soils have loosened up tree roots and we have had to remove a number this winter. Luckily, to date, we have not had any tree problems in the Rose Garden. We have had a number of old irrigation pipes rupture, in one case flooding the Rose Garden entrance for a full day before we could get it repaired. And, of course, all this rain has delayed rose pruning. We should be finished by early-March with the roses coming into peak bloom around mid-April.

Even with the rain we were able to do a major replanting of five beds in the lower garden. Thanks to a generous gift of nearly 180 bareroot roses from Meilland Star Roses, Cutler, CA, we were able to replant beds Nos. 15 North, 15 South, 23, 24, and 25 extensively with new cultivars of Floribunda, Grandiflora, and Hybrid Teas. The gift came in bundles of five bushes of each cultivar, which we planted out, in mass plantings. These beds should respond well with a huge flush of color, blooms, and fragrance this spring. They had long suffered from a lack of direct sun, and now that the large Magnolia dawsoniana has been removed, the beds are receiving sufficient sunlight to allow the roses to grow and flower at their best.

'Black Bacarra'

One of the most exciting roses just planted out in bed No. 24 is 'Black Bacarra' which was first released as a Florist rose on Valentine's Day 2001. Although no rose is truly black in color, 'Black Bacarra' comes as close as any in recent years. No fragrance is listed for this cultivar but the cut flowers are said to last up to two weeks in a vase! Also planted was the complete line of the new 'Knock Out' series of Shrub Roses, 'Knock Out', 'Pink Knock Out', and 'Blushing Knock Out' all of which are listed as continual flowering and nearly disease free shrubs. Another exciting Florist rose we planted is 'Leonidas' which are described as a unique cinnamon brown to orange color. In our region 'Leonidas' will probably be a blend of orange and yellow only achieving its terracotta coloring in the cooler part of the fall.

Our Head Gardener, Katarina Eriksson, has been busy cleaning, pruning, and planting out annual color in the Herb and Shakespeare Gardens. Check out Myriam Hu's article on the Primrose Path joining the Shakespeare and Café Gardens in this issue. Huntington visitors will be treated to a large display of three different types of primroses flowering well into spring.

Plan to attend the Shakespeare Festival celebrating the Bard's birthday on Sunday, April 24. We are planning a Maypole and other family related activities for the Shakespeare Garden. Visitors will have the opportunity all Sunday to view ten scenes from the Bard's plays throughout the gardens. Along with celebrating Shakespeare's birthday The Huntington is producing a new publication: Not of an Age, but for All Time: Shakespeare at the Huntington by Jane Purcell. The author will present a program and sign her book that day as well.

One other important event you will need to mark on your calendar is the new Rose and Shakespeare Garden Docent Class. Starting on Wednesday April 13, the class will be held on the next six Wednesdays, finishing on May 11. This class is for new Docents so if you have a friend that is interested in becoming a Rose and Shakespeare Garden Docent please have him/her contact Mikki Heydorff at 626.405.2126 or via email at [email protected]


All the rain we have been having has played havoc with our third Saturday Rose Workshop meetings. Our next meeting will be on Saturday, March 19th. We will meet in the Botanical Center and discuss the Huntington Spring Plant Sale, which this year falls on Saturday and Sunday, May 14 and 15. We have some of our own-root roses to sell, and we will be working in the nursery to get them organized, weeded, and labeled.

Finally I want to congratulate several of our Workshop participants who have been recognized by their local rose societies with a Bronze Honor Medal for 2004. Linda Renner, Orange County Rose Society, and Roni Kershaw, South Coast Rose Society, were recognized for their outstanding contributions over the years.

Great Rosarians Report

This year's Great Rosarians of the World program honoring Peter Harkness was a huge success due in part to the hard work of our Docents and Volunteers. A huge "Thank You" to all the participants who helped at this year's event. Your help was greatly appreciated and contributed to what was universally acclaimed as 'the best yet!'

The California Gold Banquet this year celebrated the Huntington's heritage of citrus with colorful handmade citrus crate centerpieces made by Lisa Oddone. Filled with citrus harvested from the estate these fantastic centerpieces also graced the Rosarians Corner Buffet on Sunday.

Andy Clark and Marily Young in front of the Roseto Photographic Exhibit

New this year was the Grand Rose Gardens of the World photo exhibit of the Roseto Botanico "Carla Fineschi". Founded nearly 30 years ago by Professor Gianfranco Fineschi the Roseto is home to nearly 7,000 species and cultivars of roses. Truly a living museum, the Roseto is located in the valley of the river Valdarno equidistant between Florence, Siena, and Arezzo. The Guest Curator and photographer of the exhibit was Marily Young who is active in conservation and propagation of the Roseto.

Peter Harkness' program focused on his family's history in the rose industry. Two brothers who started a crop of lupine from seed founded the first Harkness nursery in the late 1870s in Yorkshire. They sold their first crop at local markets and realized an 1100% profit over the cost of the seed. That seemed better to them than working in their father's tailor shop! Peter joined his uncle's rose firm in 1948 and worked with his brother Jack to found the Harkness breeding program. Over the years roses bred by the firm have garnered over 500 awards. Talk about English Roses, the Harkness' have been producing them for nearly 130 years!

Peter Harkness receiving his award from Clair Martin

It was a privilege to get to know Peter and his wife Margaret. Charming and witty, Peter's program was universally recognized as one of the best in the five-year series to date. Nearly 300 people attended this year's Great Rosarians events making it one of the highlights of the rose calendar!

Our next honoree/speakers are Viru and Girija Viraraghavan from the southeastern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The Viraraghavans' topic will be "Roses in India Past and Present." Girija will cover the long history of the rose in India and Viru will talk about his work using native Indian species to breed garden roses for hot climates. The Grand Rose Garden exhibit will focus on the Rose Gardens of India.

The Sixth Great Rosarians program promises to be an outstanding one. Please mark your calendars for Sunday, January 29, 2006.


Clair Martin, E. J. and Ruth B. Shannon Curator of the Rose and Perennial Gardens

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