Archive for May, 2011

Phasing Out District Trophies?

By Bill Blok
At the recommendation of the Prizes And Awards Committee of the Great Lakes District, the members in attendance at the Bad Axe meeting, voted to discontinue the use of rose trophies by the District. The trophies now in possession of the members, are to be turned in at our September District Show. The Prizes and Awards committee is to dispose of the old trophies as they see fit. The storage and handling of the old trophies has become an unacceptable burden on the committee chairman. We also fear that the engraving costs and maintenance of the trophies will become expensive.


Support for ARS

By Bill Blok
Wanted, more rose gardeners!
In the past, new empty-nesters, and newly retired seniors have been prime candidates for rose society membership. Having less responsibility at home and at work, quite a few found more time to spend in their gardens and at rose events. Those who were rose lovers would often become more active in rose societies.
In the last 20 years or so, this older generation of adults have tended to become interested in other things, such as playing golf, condo living, and travel. The result has been a marked decrease in rose society membership, both at the local and national levels. The economic crash we experienced in 2008 only exasperated our membership and financial problems.
At the local society level, some smaller rose societies have closed up shop, while others merged their rose shows and other activities, but have continued to function with their fewer remaining members shouldering more and more responsibilities.
While the local and District societies continued to function with tighter budgets, the National ARS society , with the need to maintain a National Staff and Headquarters, has worked itself into a state of insolvency, as it allowed revenues to drop faster than it’s expenditures. Now ARS is “passing the hat” to their friends (local and District societies), requesting a “bail out”.
At our March Board meeting, our Grand Valley Rose Society Board received a letter from the ARS requesting a donation of $300 . That request was “tabled” for later consideration. It also is requesting donations of $1000 from all District Rose Societies. These sums are needed by ARS to pay the debts they have accumulated recently when expenditures exceeded income. Our individual ARS members have always been fair game for solicitations from ARS, but our local societies have enough problems of their own, without being asked to make up for bad management at the National level. Perhaps we do not need a full time National ARS Director. W. B.

Spring Planting

By Bill Blok
Halleluiah! It is spring! For Michigan rosarians, spring arrives for real in April. Michigan rosarians also love June because it is the glorious culmination of the first bloom cycle of our new rose year. On the other hand, April is wonderful too because we see the first signs of growth for the coming season. It also is a season of new beginnings, as we prepare for and plant new varieties of roses in our gardens.
When it comes to planting roses, how do you decide which rose you will plant? Probably the worst system for selecting new roses is to buy them based on the pretty rose picture on the side of the package. It might be better to rely on the description of the rose in the seed or rose catalog, but not much better. After all, the people who put out the catalog are usually very anxious for you to buy their roses.
A better system is to buy roses at least in part based on the advice of people who have grown or observed the growing roses. This might be based on member surveys of rosarians, such as the “Roses in Review”, and the Triennial Survey of members by the ARS.
A similar opinion survey soliciting opinions on newly introduced roses is the “Horizon Rose List.” It emphasizes exhibition potential.
Another system of selecting roses is to preferentially buy roses that have competed successfully in test gardens, such as AARS, Award of Excellence, and RHA test garden winners.
I believe a better guide to buying good varieties of roses is the “Top Exhibition Rose Lists” published this year in the March-April issue of the ARS Magazine. These lists are probably more reliable than most of the others mentioned above because they are not based on some ones opinion, but on the actual number of awards won by the listed roses in our ARS rose shows.
This year Gemini edged out Moonstone for the top exhibition rose in the hybrid tea & grandiflora classes
Top floribunda exhibition roses in recent years have included mostly Playboy, Playgirl, Lavaglut, Nicole, Sexy Rexy, & Hannah Gordon. This year Playboy was tops. Actually, since Nicole and Hannah Gordon are both listed near the top, and since identical appearing plants have often been sold under both names, there is a good argument for combining those two varieties. If this was done, the new Nicole-Gordon would be the top Floribunda rose.
The top miniature exhibition rose is Bee’s Knees, and the top miniflora is Butter Cream.
Maybe you are thinking that, “since I don’t exhibit much, why would a high exhibition rating be important to me?” As a gardener, don’t you like lots of clean, long lasting blooms, and disease resistant foliage in your rose gardens? That is what exhibitors are finding in their gardens when they produce those prize winning blooms for the show. There are exceptions, but most prize winning roses are also good garden roses.
The biggest problem with using the Top Exhibition Rose List as your only source of information in selecting new rose bushes, is that the list does not account for differences in climatic conditions in the rose gardens in different parts of the U.S.. The winning roses in the list grow in warm climate states, as well as in our northern states. Tender roses such as St. Patrick, and Marilyn Monroe grow very well in mild climate states, but don’t winter that well in our northern climate. Playboy is tops, and Playgirl is also high in the Floribunda ratings, but most Michigan rosarians find they are too tender. At one time the ARS Magazine would list top exhibition rose winners by ARS District. I don’t see those lists anymore. A useful local reference would be the lists of “winners” published in our Newsletter after each of our rose shows.

Presidents Letter

BY Joan Stoffer
It is a sunny and pleasant 42 degree day as I write to you on this March 30th, though I did hear a forecast for a bit of snow this weekend. At least for the time being, most of our yards are snow-free and freeze has fairly well left the ground. A rosarian friend recently reminded me that this is the time to take soil samples for testing – if it has been awhile since you have done that you may want to do it now. I have been growing roses for about seven years now, and have never had my soil analyzed; I will do that before I start throwing fertilizer and nutrients into soil which may need something other than what I usually give it.
Duane DeDene recently mentioned in an email that he is going to use a product this spring, which I sampled last year. Unfortunately, when I sprayed it, blackspot and insects were already in full swing, and so it didn’t really have a fair chance to prove itself. This winter, I ordered a gallon of Moisturin 5 from GSI Horticultural in Oregon to give it another try. Moisturin 5 was developed in 1991 as a joint project between Oregon State University and a chemical manufacturer from the State of Washington. At the time of Moisturin’s development, OSU was conducting a test of anti-transpirants and anti-desiccants. At the conclusion of the test, over a 4 year time period, the University concluded that Moisturin was more effective than any of the other products tested against plant stress. It was later discovered in lab tests that Moisturin is indeed effective as a long-term barrier to ward off infestations of diseases and insects. I did ask GSI if they had any idea of its effectiveness against Japanese Beetles; they didn’t know and are interested in what I may notice when the JB season begins in July. It is an organic, and therefore very safe to use. I will keep you apprised of its effectiveness in my garden and I’m sure Duane will let us know his findings also.
Editor’s Notes: The Franklin Inn in Bad Axe was the site for our Great Lakes District Spring Convention. Our Grand Valley Rosarian group arrived in the late afternoon of April 8. The evening was a social welcome time, and Harlan Schumaker presented one of his beautiful rose slide programs. Representing Grand Valley, besides Harlan & Kay, were Irma and I, John & Maggie Musgrove, Jan & Dan Powell, Jon Wier, and Rose Enders.
On Saturday instructive seminars were presented on pesticide use, Old Garden Roses, and updates on rules for exhibiting roses, and more pictures of beautiful roses. During the District business meeting, the members voted to spend up to $500 to match member and local society contributions to a fund to help bail out the financially challenged American Rose Society.

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