Number 47   March - April 2006


By Clair Martin

The Huntington Botanical Gardens and the Manhattan Rose Society have reached an agreement to jointly host the Great Rosarians of the World lecture series. Starting next year the annual lecture will first be presented at The Huntington on Sunday, March 11, and then our speaker will repeat the same program in New York City on Thursday, March 15.

The Manhattan Rose Society, represented by President Pat Shanley and VP Gene Waering, have arranged for Brooklyn Botanic Garden to be the principal GRoW host in 2007. While Brooklyn Botanic Garden will provide the venue for the lecture, it is hoped that New York Botanical Garden and Wave Hill Garden will also host events celebrating the program and that each garden will host the program in rotation over the next three years.

This is the first major expansion of this Huntington lecture series since its founding in January 2001. The lecture is being moved from the third Sunday in January to March to place the program closer to the beginning of the East Coast rose season and still not conflict with other rose related shows and activities that commence around mid-April here on the West Coast. This change of date will also facilitate our January rose pruning schedule here in the Huntington Rose Garden.

Our speaker/honoree for the 2007 lecture will be Wilhelm Kordes III. Herr Kordes is the fourth generation of his family to lead the internationally recognized rose nursery and hybridizing firm based in Sparrieshoop, Germany. Under Herr Kordes’ direction, W. Kordes Söhne has made the brave decision to avoid using chemical fungicides in their development program and commercial nursery and focus on producing disease resistant garden roses. He will speak on the history of his firm and the breeding program they are pursuing.

2006 Great Rosarians honorees Girija and Viru Viraraghavan

The Great Rosarians of the World series was conceived in the late 1990’s and developed as a venue for bringing together some of the most important men and women who have made significant contributions to our love and understanding of the rose with a broad audience of rose gardeners each year at The Huntington. We have honored eight Great Rosarians since our first program in 2001.

The list of Great Rosarian honorees is a Who’s Who of the Rose World. Our first speaker was the British rose nurseryman and author Peter Beales followed by: the American Ralph Moore considered by many to be the founder of the modern Miniature Rose; Miriam Wilkins founded the Heritage Roses movement in Northern California in the 1960’s and has influenced the development of heritage rose groups world wide; the British authors Roger Phillips and Martyn Rix have jointly authored more than 60 books on gardening and roses in their career; Peter Harkness another fourth generation rose hybridizer to lead his family firm that goes back to the 1880’s in the UK; and this year we honored the husband and wife team Viru and Girija Viraraghavan. Viru spoke about his breeding program producing roses for hot climates and Girija presented her program on the history of the rose in India.

Now bicoastal, the Great Rosarians of the World annual lecture series is fast becoming the inaugural event of the rose season and recognized internationally as one of the important venues honoring the men and women who have contributed so much to our love and understanding of our national flower, the rose. We at The Huntington welcome and look forward to a long and productive partnership with the Manhattan Rose Society and our fellow rosarians at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, New York Botanical Garden, and Wave Hill.

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

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