It was going to be a busy couple of weeks- California Cornish Cousins annual gathering the first weekend in June, looking for some new cemeteries to check for roses, home for a few days, then down to Pasadena for the Great Rosarians event the second weekend, at which Dr. Wang Guoliang was this year’s Honoree.
Part 1: Cornish Cousins
This year’s gathering was in Stockton, a place I usually try to avoid. We were celebrating the 25th annual gathering, and most of the previous presidents were there to discuss the past and future of the society. The meeting was held partly at the University Plaza Hotel, and the rest at University of the Pacific. These are probably two of the nicest places to be in Stockton. I arrived at the hotel and checked in, changed into my swimsuit and got into the pool immediately. The outside temperature was about 100 degrees. The pool was perfect. Unfortunately, I forgot to take my earrings out, and when I was back in the hotel room, I realized one was missing- cute little California poppies, and the store where I bought them went out of business. There was some time before the evening meeting so I went to the bar in the lobby. The Tregonning brothers were there, so I sat with them and had a nice glass of wine and a nice chat. At the meeting each of the past presidents gave a short talk about what happened during their time in office, then we had a break for a light supper. About the time the business meeting was to start, I went outside to call my daughter who was about to leave on a trip with her husband to Japan and China. After the call, I meant to go back to the meeting, but saw the current president’s wife and another woman and they invited me to sit and chat with them. I intended to only do that for a few minutes, then go back to the business meeting. Soon, I saw people coming outside who were at the meeting, and realized I’d missed the whole thing. Had I been there, I might well have been talked into being one of the officers, or some other position that would require me to do something. I explained to Gage, the president, that I’d been waylaid by his wife, and he said,”Time well spent.” And it was- she told me a sweet story about how she had come to realize that Gage was the man she was meant to be with.
The next day’s meetings were at the University, and the campus it really beautiful. All brick and stone buildings. The connection between the University of the Pacific and Cornish Cousins is that it was started as a Methodist school, and Methodism started in Cornwall. During a break, I took a walk around the campus, taking lots of pictures. Here are a few:
Lunch was the traditional Cornish pasties. The crust was excellent, but the filling was a disappointment – not enough vegetables.
We all enjoyed the talk by the University Archivist. The have a great collection of papers and other early California papers, much of which is digitized here: Digital Archives. This includes papers and drawings by John Muir, and recordings of Dave Brubeck. The diaries of Daisy Locke are wonderful!
The highlight of the evening was a performance by the Grass Valley Male Voice Choir, always a treat at our gatherings, continuing the tradition of male voice choirs in Cornwall and in the mines of the Sierra during the Gold Rush.
Sunday morning was a traditional Methodist church service in the Morris Chapel on the campus. It is really a beautiful little church, full of stained glass windows. The service was let by Gage, a lay preacher, and other Cornish Cousins. Some of the choir was also there to lead the hymns. The stained glass windows next to the choir loft are in honor of musicians.
Part 2: Cemeteries and Roses
I would love to have gone back to Stockton Rural Cemetery, but it’s not in an area I felt comfortable going to alone. There were lots of roses there when a bunch of us went some years ago. Instead, I drove up to Ione, where I decided to collect a couple of cuttings of the orange-yellowish rose I photographed last year. I also noticed a China-like rose I had missed last year. Perhaps it hadn’t been in bloom. I collected that too. The temperature was again about 100 degrees. (If you click on a picture you can see it full size.)
I then headed up to Plymouth Cemetery to meet up with Beverly Rose Hopper and her husband Martin. The surviving roses are looking much better with the care they’ve been giving them. I had a rose to give them- a plant of either the Roberts rose or the Red Runaround that had been grown from the original plant there, and bought by Robin Pulich. The original of the Roberts rose is trying to live, though most of its leaves show the tell-tale roundup damage. We were sure the Red Runaround was completely gone after a tree trimmer removed the stump and tiny damaged canes it had last year, but as we stood there talking about it, I looked down near my feet and saw a couple small leaves. Rose leaves! Some root at depth was trying to come back! It appears the only complete loss is the Cl.La France. Plants were propagated from it back in 2007, and we hope to be able to get a plant from one of those to replace the original, but the ones at the Heritage will not grow. One is so small, I have it in a pot at my house, and the other is only about a foot tall at the garden. I hope the plant or plants in Sacramento are doing better than that. The Pulich Children and McMillen roses are mostly recovered from the roundup damage, although some canes still show it. We discussed when and whether those damaged canes should be removed, but didn’t come to any conclusion. If anyone has had experience with that, please let me know. We saw that someone had taken cuttings from Pulich Children. The rose is now commercially available, so there is no need to keep taking cuttings from the original plant. Beverly has put signs by all the roses asking people not to, but the sign is on the far side of that one and perhaps whoever took the cuttings didn’t see it. She decided to make a second sign for the closer side.
We had a nice long lunch at the little store in Plymouth with a sandwich and deli area, espresso bar, gifts and wine tasting (small town, got to do it all.) And air conditioning. After we parted, I headed north on 49 (iced coffee drink in hand) in search of several more cemeteries I’d only found out about last month. First was Diamond Springs. The cemetery isn’t very large, and it’s still active. There were some blooming lavender-blue wildflowers, and one rose at the far side. I’m pretty sure it’s Mlle. Cecile Brunner. There was only one bud left on it, which I took, and between the look of the bloom the next morning, and of the leaves compared to a neighborhood plant, I have little doubt of the identification.
On to the next- Coloma Pioneer Cemetery. There was something on Facebook about it being haunted. From photos, I could see large blooming plants. I suspected they were oleander, and I was right. It’s a fascinating hillside cemetery, though, even if there were no roses.
A couple blocks away was an old Catholic Church with a cemetery behind it, also on a hillside. There was one rose there, with no bloom. By the look of the stems and the trailing habit, I’m betting on Red Runaround.
I tried to find Shingle Springs Cemetery, but I didn’t have an exact location, so after driving around where I thought it might be with no success, I parked at a playground, used the restroom, and had my Waze app plot the best route home after a very long, very hot day.
Part 3- Great Rosarian weekend in Pasadena
After a few days of rest, cooler weather, doing laundry and repacking, on Thursday I headed south. I’ve usually taken Hwy 101 all the way to the LA area, then 134 and 201 into Pasadena. I was in more of a hurry this time. At Paso Robles, I turned onto Hwy 46 east to get to I5. I’ve never taken this route before so it was new to me. It’s mostly flat or low hills, fields and orchards, signs about how farmers need water, and not much else. There is one intersection with a gas station and a big store. It’s worth stopping there just to see all the things in the store and stretch your legs. They have all kinds of specialty foods, homemade fudge and chocolates (yes, I did indulge here), a lunch counter, and most importantly, a rest room. If only they had an espresso bar with a good iced coffee drink.
Eventually I made it to I5 and headed toward “the Grapevine”. I’ve come down the grapevine from the south a couple of times, but this was my first time approaching from the north. 30 years ago I had a part-time job as a 3rd and 4th grade classroom aide. One thing the 4th graders do is make 3D maps of California using something like play-dough to create the mountain ranges. As an aide, my job was to help them get all the mountain ranges in the right places. I’d explain how the Central Valley was like a bowl with mountains all around the south end. Here I was, driving into that U-shape at the south end of the valley and saw the Coast Range and Sierra mountains joining ahead of me into the Transverse Range. It’s much steeper on the Grapevine side than on the south side. I stayed in the slow line. About this time, my podcasts ran out, and I switched to my sing-along CDs. Good thing I was alone in the car. I was belting out all my favorite Simon and Garfunkel songs and some Arlo Guthrie and a few others. I love looking at the rock formation going over this mountain range. Much of the scenery is really beautiful. The interstate is relatively flat across the top part, and the surrounding hills and ridges don’t look very high, but you’re already at 4000′. Some hills in that range go up to 8000′.
Eventually I got to the 210 and Pasadena (in northern Calif. we would say “hwy 210” but in southern Calif, all the freeways are “the 210, the 405”, etc.), and checked into my hotel room about 4pm. I unpacked and dressed up a bit before heading off to the Huntington Library a couple of miles away in San Marino. Dr. Wang Guoliang was giving a talk in the East Asian Garden Lecture Series on the history of gardens and roses in China. In talks about European and American garden history, speakers usually cover a few hundred years at most. In China, Dr. Wang cover a couple thousand years. He covered the 6 elements of Chinese gardens: 1. Rocks. Huge rocks. 2. Water. Large ponds. 3. Plants (this is where roses come in, but also trees and other plants, including water plants.) 4. Pavilions. Several in different parts of the garden. 5. Bridges. Several, in different styles. 6. Towers. It was fun to see Dr.Wang again. Quite a few of my friends were also at the lecture and it was fun to see them, too. There was a nice reception afterward the talk, and that gave us all a chance to catch up with each other.
Friday was “The Full Pasadena” (It’s known for Old Town, the Gamble House, The Norton Simon Museum, and being near the Huntington Library). I started by driving to Old Town and parking in a free space I knew about from previous visits to Pasadena. Old Town is full of interesting shops and places to eat. I found a Fair Trade store and got a birthday present to give my daughter next month. I’d only had half a Costco-type muffin for breakfast at the motel and it was getting close to noon. I happened to look in a gelato shop because the gelato was in mounds of swirls, and it looked so much more interesting than the usual flat smooth presentations I’ve seen elsewhere. I just had to have a taste. then I had to have a scoop. So lunch turned out to be as nutritious as breakfast. But it was very tasty. From Old Town, it’s just a few blocks to the Gamble House. It’s one of the best examples of Greene and Greene architecture and interior design. I took the tour, but you can’t take pictures inside, so there are only outside pictures here. The inside is well worth the price of the tour. There are lots of stories about the Gamble family (as in Proctor & Gamble) as well as the amazing decor.
Next was the Norton Simon Museum, most famous for being seen while watching the Rose Parade on New Year’s morning. I’ve been there before, but it was enjoyable to walk around all that great art again. You can take pictures if you don’t use flash. Some I took were pretty blurry, but these came out OK.
After that, I was hungry, so I went to BJ’s Brewhouse in Old Town and had a porter and a salad (finally, something nutritious for the day). Then back to the motel to rest, then change and head off to the Huntington for a reception in the Chinese Garden. Yes it has all the elements. Dr. Wang was involved in the design. (and now that my daughter is back from China, she showed me pictures of them in a Chinese garden there, and it also has all the elements. I feel so well-educated.) There’s more to it than there was the last time I went a couple of years ago. Quite a bit more is still planned. The restaurant in one of the pavilions made the food for the reception, and it was delicious. There was also wine. And lots of my rose friends. We all had a great time chatting for several hours, watching a nice sunset, and having yet another glass of wine.
Saturday was the Huntington all day. First I spent a long time in the rose garden and visiting with friends. Tom Carruth explained about the repairs to the arbor posts that were designed to look like trees.
He’s also done a lot to improve the soil where the tea and China roses grow. In the older hybrid tea beds, there are a lot of young plants where he’s replaced ones that weren’t doing well. The soil is slightly alkaline, and roses prefer slightly acidic, so it’s an ongoing struggle to keep the roses happy. (For non-chemists, you can’t just add acid to alkaline to make it more acidic. acid+base=salt.)
Later, I wandered off to the Australian garden. The big windstorm a few years ago damaged a lot of trees in this area and it looked rather sad with debris lying around, so I wanted to see how things looked now. I could see a few stumps and places where broken branches had been cut off, and an open area with no plants, but they’ve done their best to fix the area up again. Some plants I saw as I wandered:
The new gift shop is very nice. Several times someone came up and asked if I needed help finding anything, or would I like to see any of the jewelry in a case. I was beginning to think I looked suspicious and they were really keeping an eye on me. There is a whole area added to what used to be the entrance and the auditorium (which is now a cafe). The old buildings there have different things going on in them. It’s all much nicer.
After lunch, it was time for the talks. We were treated to three talks. First Ping Lim talked about his travels in China. He has had extensive travel in China since 1987, and seen roses in designs up to 7000 years ago. He also mentioned finding a rose last year in Huashan (flower mountain). He said some Chinese use a thorny banksia as a standard for tree roses, but I don’t really understand why anyone would want a thorny banksia for any reason. I found it curious that there is a thorny banksia, as the thornlessness of varieties in the US is one of there best qualities.
Gregg Lowery gave the next talk. He’s floating a theory that the ancestors of Damask and Hybrid Bourbon roses have their ancestors in Asia (not just the China and Tea ancestors.) It’s already known that the original Bourbon roses were grown in India long before they were found on the Ile Bourbon and sent to France. Gregg thinks the Damasks and Musk roses may also have been bred in Asia before making their way to Europe. I’ve been reading Behcet Ciragan’s article in the 2015 Indian Rose Annual, some of which is supportive of things Gregg said, and also raises some questions about other things. I need to have a historical atlas of the area from Turkey to western China next to me as I read it. (So much for feeling well-educated. My history and geography teachers have a lot to answer for in their teaching of history and geography outside of Europe and North America.) It will be some time before I can digest all the information in that article.
Finally it was time for the Great Rosarian award for and talk by Dr. Wang Guoliang. The title was “Significant Discoveries in Chinese Old Roses”, and was divided into 6 parts. Part 1 was Classification of ancient Chinese roses. He showed the parts of the characters in old writings that indicate certain things like “plant”, “mud wall”, “supported by wood or bamboo”. The three classes of roses there are Wild Roses, going back more than 3000 years, Rugosas dating from 2000 years, and Monthly Roses, going back 1300 years. leaf fossils that clearly look like rose leaves have been dated to 20 to 25 million years old. Part 2: Monthly roses (ancestral to what we call Teas and Chinas)- About 100 monthly roses appeared in the Song Dynasty (1000 years ago) and includes Tipsy Imperial Concubine, described in a book. I know there is controversy over that one. Many people believe it is an HT from the early 20th century that was imported to China, and became confused with the old roses. A good candidate for some DNA work. I tried to grow it once, but it didn’t like it here. There are 10 middle forms found between the single chinensis and the Old Blush style. One is named ‘Red Dancing’ in Japan. I don’t have any notes labeled part 3. Part 4 is the rediscovery of the original Park’s Yellow. Several nurseries around the world have sold roses they called Park’s Yellow, all found roses, and none likely to be the right rose. Dr. Wang found the real one in Nanjing, called ‘Perpetual Light Yellow’. There are or have been other intermediate forms, from the single once blooming (some of which can still be found in the wild) to the double repeat flowering. Some other finds- R. odorata ‘Purplish Blush’, a huge double climber, R. odorata ‘Pink Blush’ which is smaller, Zhu Pan Tuo a red semi-double. Part 5 was the discovery of the Tuwei rugosa rose. 2000 years ago there was a single version. By 1000 years ago (Song Dynasty) there were double forms. Tuwei was usually grafted, and was used in brewing wine. It was different from other rugosas, and derived from rugosa and tea rose. Part 6 is on the origin of the rose we call Fortuniana. It’s a fairly commonly found rootstock rose around here, climbing unless kept pruned, and very drought tolerant. I’ve also seen it sold as a rose for covering a fence, and given a name that I recall included the word “Snow”. During the Tang Dynasty the flowers were used in brewing some sort of wine. It was painted in the Song Dynasty as Tumi, so that is the name we should be calling it. He said that DNA has shown it to be a cross of R. laevigata and R. banksia, but that cross is fairly obvious by visual inspection, not needing DNA. He said some plants in China have prickles on the peduncle, or red petal margins. That concluded the talks for the afternoon. I always get a picture of me with the honoree:
Before people left for parts unknown, I asked some friends if they’d like to get together for dinner somewhere. I had half a dozen takers, and we decided to go to BJ’s Brewhouse, since I knew where it was, and knew they served good food (or at least good salads.) Joining we were Sharon Van Enoo, Kim Rupert, Gideon Dollarhide, who is in charge of old roses at Berkeley Botanic Garden, and his friend Joey, Anita Clevenger and Becky Yianilos. We talked for hours! Here we are enjoying ourselves:
The next morning was the drive home. I took a slightly different route, driving north on the 210 to San Fernando and getting on the 118 west. It was a lovely drive through beautiful rock formations, then lots of nurseries and eventually reaching the 101 at Ventura. There were no traffic delays as I’ve often had when taking the 210-134-101 route, so it probably didn’t cost me much in time. I had a nice visit with my college friend Pete in San Luis Obispo, which also made a nice break from driving before heading north the rest of the way.