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Life’s a bed of roses for visiting experts

The American Rose Society recently visited Bermuda, helping bring fresh bloom to the upper ranks of the Island’s roses.

Society president Jolene Adams and ARS members were here to judge a Bermuda Rose Society show and teach a rose-judging course.

“The passion for roses is passing on to the next generation, but younger people, because they are younger are busy, busy, busy,” said Ms Adams, who lives in California. “They often have smaller living areas that are not necessarily conducive to growing roses. They may have one on a porch in a pot. The interest really starts to kick in when people get older and the children start to leave home and people have more time to relax and garden.”

One thing that is helping the ARS fight an ageing membership trend is the internet. Ms Adams is credited with bringing the ARS into the digital age in the 1990s as its first webmaster.

“We were the first floral society or association to go on the internet,” said Ms Adams. “I did have a technological career so I knew what was needed.”

The website was launched in 1995 the largest percentage of new members comes through it today.

They also try to appeal to a younger membership by promoting roses that are easier to grow.

Lois Fowkes, an international judge and ARS member said: “Unless the supporting groups don’t change to go with changing trends, they will fall by the wayside. So we have hybridisers who are now trying to create roses that are more disease-free, easy to care for, and bloom more continuously year round.”

The group from the ARS met Bermuda rosarians at the 2012 World Federation Rose Society Conference in South Africa last October.

“We met Eugene Rayner and his group,” said Ms Adams. “The Bermuda Rose Society had been negotiating with our national chair of judges to establish a judging school in Bermuda. Then we met Mr Rayner and his group in South Africa and he talked to us and we got excited. I said, ‘we can do this’. All of us have experience with presenting a judging school in our countries, so why not, and do it with international rules. It all came together. We invited Lois-Ann Helgson to come with us to Bermuda because she is the ARS national chair for Old Garden Roses.”

Ms Helgson has often been called upon to help identify mystery roses in the United States. Mystery roses are roses that have lost their original identities and origins. Bermuda has many mystery roses including Smith’s Parish and Emmie Gray.

Ms Helgson gave one example where an old farm had a beautiful rose growing on the farm for so many generations they forgot what it was. They decided they wanted to sell cuttings of it, but needed to know what they were selling.

“I had a look at it, and did some research and found it was a communis or common moss rose,” she said.

While in Bermuda the group administered an apprentice rose-judging examination. Twenty-four people from the Bermuda Rose Society, the Garden Club of Bermuda and the Department of Parks, took the written and practical exam . Although some were already accredited and taking it as a refresher course, 11 are now new apprentice judges eligible for accreditation.

Spring blooms: Members of the American Rose Society admire some of the beautiful roses that were on display at the Botanical Gardens yesterday. Pictured (from left) are ARS president Jolene Adams, Lois Anne Helgson, Linda Kimmel, and Lois Fowkes. (Photo by Zachary Friesen)

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Published April 12, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated April 11, 2013 at 8:56 pm)

Life’s a bed of roses for visiting experts

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