Number 46   January - February 2006


By Bill Grant

What a great idea of Clair Martin’s to have something in January about roses! All the catalogues have arrived; the weather in Pasadena is usually warm (during the day, at least); and people are getting anxious to talk about the spring roses.

So the Great Rosarians of the World is a smash hit with more to come! The first five were lots of fun, and this year’s event has proved to be equally informative and entertaining.

Peter Beales

Peter Beales was number one in 2001. A sold-out crowd enjoyed his life in roses. He had been to The Huntington some years back to receive the Lester E. Harrell award; I remember eating lunch on the lawn with him. Having heard him talk in different places in the world, I can honestly say this was his very best effort.

Ralph Moore

Clair was worried that Ralph Moore, the second honoree, would not be able to stand up to the excitement and the talk itself. (Ralph celebrated his 95th birthday just prior to his appearance.) Little did he need to worry. Moore was on the podium for two hours and then took questions. He looked marvelous.

The lady who started all this madness about old roses was the third honoree: Miriam Wilkins. In an informal interview, Clair asked her about her long history with roses. She is never at a loss for a sharp answer. Her work has spread to England, Australia, New Zealand, and France.

The rose twins, Roger Phillips and Marty Rix, made a strong impression on the big crowd that Sunday afternoon. This was the first time that they used Power Point in their presentation; and it was the first talk by Martyn before a large audience. The two spent several days photographing all the trees at the Huntington and other spots.

Last year, an English gentleman was honored: Peter Harkness, of the famous nursery family. A speaker of great renown, and a man of quiet elegance. His lovely wife added a lot to their visit.

Roger Phillips and Martin Rix
Peter Harkness
Girija and Viru Viraraghavan

And this year? Another double performance. Girija and Viru from India. You note I have not put their last name here – not only did Clair have problems with pronunciation; I heard fifteen different ways to say their name from the audience. An excellent talk on Viru’s hybridizing! And his roses are now available here in the U.S.

Who will be coming next year? I know that Clair has a list he is pondering. January will be here before we know it!

Bill Grant, Author, Lecturer, and World Traveler

Editor’s note: The last name of Girija and Viru is Viraraghavan. As Bill states, for pronunciation you are on your own.

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