A Quick Trip to LA

A few months ago, a friend near Los Angeles, JD, decided it was time to downsize his garden. He can’t keep it up anymore, and he has an amazing collection of polyantha roses, many of which aren’t available anywhere in the US. He invited a group of rose enthusiasts to come between 1 and 4 pm on Dec 1 and take cuttings. This was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I asked the friend if he had a list of his roses so I could decide which ones we wanted before coming down. He sent a list from several years ago, but expects that 10% have died. First I deleted the ones on the list that we already have at the Heritage. I marked “yes” for those already on our “wanted” list. Then I used Helpmefind to see which of the others were available from several nurseries and took them off the list. The remaining ones I marked “rare”. This got the list down to about 100. This was still WAY more than I was anticipating, and I decided to also delete those less than 20 years old, which took me down to 74. Even with attrition, there may still be more than 60 to collect. Although the Heritage already has a large number of polyanthas, and little space to plant more in the beds assigned to them, I decided I should go collect what I could, and after we propagate plants, we can decide which to keep and where to plant them.  The Courtyard garden next to the main rose garden has been for miniature and patio roses, but there is enough room to accommodate a number of polyanthas, and no reason not to plant some there. Once propagated, we may also auction duplicates and some that we don’t have room for, and that way, spread them around to ensure their survival. The South Bay Heritage Rose Group agreed that it was important to get these roses while we can, and agreed to reimburse my gas cost to drive down there and back. Terry, another member offered to come with me and help collect cuttings. Friends in Camarillo offered their guestroom. Other garden volunteers offered to process the cuttings- getting them in bands in terrariums which they will care for.

Nov. 29

Getting ready.  I’ve been making a packing list so I don’t forget anything. Tamara dropped off a plant for me to give to the friends in Camarillo, so I don’t dare forget that. I need supplies for collecting cuttings- gloves, clippers, labels, newspaper, buckets, my large cooler, 2 copies of the list of 74 roses to try to collect, pencils to write on the labels.  The plan is to try and get 4 cuttings of each, and along with a label, wrap them in a sheet of newspaper like a burrito, dip it in the bucket of water, wring it out and place it in the cooler. But I also need to pack a few changes of clothes, various electronics and chargers and other travel items. Maps and directions. Clean out the stuff I don’t need from the car.

Nov. 30

Terry arrived from San Jose about 9am. I’d been worried that the rain might cause problems, but the highway was open. So we got her stuff into the car and took off for points south. I’ve written about this route before: HERE, Part 1. This time, we stopped in Moss Landing for some fruit to eat over the weekend, but not for coffee. It was raining most of the drive. We made the usual stop at Bradley Rest area, and then Cafe Andreini in Arroyo Grande. Their hot mocha is just as good as their frozen one. There is a sandwich place nearby, and we discovered a chocolate shop between the two. The Black Forest truffle I bought was expensive, but big and really good. I told the owner about Kobasic’s port wine truffles, and she wrote it down, as she was thinking of making an alcoholic truffle. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to get those twice a year, instead of only when I go to Sacramento?

Continuing south, the weather got a bit better, so we drove over San Marcos Pass. We pulled in at the view area. The bushes have grown larger, and they are now obstructing much of the view, but here is one pretty picture of the Transverse Ranges:

View from San Marcos Pass

View from San Marcos Pass

No more stops until we arrived at Jeri and Clay’s house in Camarillo, where we were greeted by their three very friendly long-coat Dalmations. Jeri was thrilled to receive the plant- a Rosa chinensis spontanea. Then a lovely evening of food, wine and pleasant conversation.

Dec. 1

A rainy morning. Terry and I arrived at JDs house at exactly 1pm. There were already about a dozen people there. The main problem was that most roses weren’t labeled, so all of us were asking JD where various plants were, and there was only one JD to go around. In the end, I only got 4 potted plants and cuttings of 17 others on my list. Terry also got cuttings of around 6 roses. But I also arranged for a friend in that area to help JD label the remaining ones from my list, and left them with plenty of labels. I can then stop by on my way to or from Great Rosarians in February to collect more plants and cuttings.  Here are some pictures from the event. First Jeri Jennings’ collage of pictures she took. The rose in the middle is Topsy Turvy (everybody asks):

Jeri's collage of pictures from JD's garden

Jeri’s collage of pictures from JD’s garden

Now my pictures after everyone was gone from the garden:

The deck over the garage

The deck over the garage

The hillside behind the house

The hillside behind the house

Back of the house

Back of the house

Afterwards a group of us sat around the table where there were way too many tempting food items:

Sitting around the table after collecting the cuttings

Sitting around the table after collecting the cuttings

When we got back to Camarillo, the four of us went out to a Mexican restaurant, “El Tecolote” that has been there since 1946, then back to for another evening of wine and dogs. Jeri got a good picture of Becket and me:

Becket and me.

Becket keeping me company as I checked email.

Dec. 2

The weather reports were bad- lots of rain, and wind. And getting worse to the north. Terry and I ate breakfast and packed up the car. We thanked our hosts and petted the dogs some more, then headed out. No driving over San Marcos Pass this time, we just stayed on 101. But we were lucky. It stopped raining long enough for our stop in Arroyo Grande (the chocolate shop was closed on Sundays, but the bakery was open), and our stop for gas in San Luis Obispo. It was rainy and foggy going over Cuesta Grade, but at least we were on the inside. I don’t like being on the outside (with the steep dropoff) in bad weather. It also poured and got windy near King City, which I also didn’t like, but the weather steadily improved after that and was fairly nice by the time we got to my home.


The 78 cuttings from 17 polyanthas have been stuck into bands and terrariums by John and David, wonderful volunteers at the Heritage Rose Garden, and the potted plants are in the nursery there. I also have a couple of new friends I met at JDs who are interested in cuttings exchanges. There are always exciting things to look forward to in the world of roses!


About Jill Perry

Since 2005, I have been the Curator of the San Jose Heritage Rose Garden, a part of Guadalupe River Parks and Gardens near downtown San Jose. I write about the Heritage Rose Garden, my garden and my travels when I feel inspired and have time. Since I have no regular schedule, if you'd like to know when I write a new article, please subscribe to this blog.
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