Great Rosarians of the World 2013

Part 1- before the talks

Every winter since 2001 there has been a Great Rosarian honored at the Huntington Library in San Marino. This year two were honored- Dr. Walter Lewis and Dr. Malcolm Manners. I hadn’t heard of Dr. Lewis before, but I’ve been friends with Malcolm since the International Heritage Rose Conference in Charleston, South Carolina in 2001. (I wrote about that conference here.) More information on the speakers can be found at: This year’s event was on Saturday, Feb. 2.

The drive down on Friday was pretty much the same as other years, and I wrote a blog on that a couple of years ago, which can be seen here. The weather was nice and sunny as I neared San Luis Obispo. I even had the air conditioner on, and was looking forward to a frappé at Cafe Andreini in Arroyo Grande. But by the time I got there, a cool, foggy wind had come up, and the temperature dropped to about 60. I decided to get the frappé anyway, and drive with the heater on. I also got a chocolate treat at the chocolate store, and some chocolate dipped shortbread cookies at the bakery. I love all the little shops in this old downtown section of Arroyo Grande. Unfortunately, the one with gifts and wine is now gone. I could easily waste an hour looking at the things they had.

Friday night was spent in Camarillo with Jeri and Clay and their three very friendly and beautiful long-coat Dalmatians. I had picked up some cheap wines at  Von’s before leaving Santa Barbara, and we went through the better part of both of them. It’s amazing how good some really cheap wines can be. For dessert, I shared the cookies from Arroyo Grande.

On Saturday, I arrived at the Huntington when it opened, and checked out the giftshop, as I always do. Part-way through, my friend Anita from Sacramento greeted me, and we finished looking together, then headed to the succulent garden. I think I’ve already photographed every plant there to show my daughter who has quite a collection of succulents, so this year I mainly took super-close-ups that I can use to make her a calendar for next year.

One of my close-ups.

One of my close-ups.


Parrots pulling fluff out of kapok pods. I love seeing the wild parrots when I’m at the Huntington.


Another of my close-ups.

Another of my close-ups.

As we came back from there to the entry area, I saw Malcolm and Dr. Lewis, so we had a bit of meet and greet. After lunch, we also had exchanges. Anita had a book that David Ruston had given her in Japan to give to me, and I was very excited to get it. Malcolm brought me a plant of Maréchal Niel for the Heritage Rose Garden that he thinks is a good cultivar, and grafted on Fortuniana rootstock. The Heritage lost its original plant after only a few years, and the second died in the nursery. I have high hopes that this one will flourish.

Part 2- the talks

Here are my notes written down during the talks, plus a few things added for explanation:

Dr. Walter Lewis’ talk on North American Species Roses

He studied rose species for his PhD thesis in the 1950s, but has not worked in them in his career at Missouri Botanical Garden and teaching at Washington University  in St. Louis. Recently, he wrote the rose section for North American Flora, which will be coming out soon.  For this talk he covered native species (16 Rosa, 1 Systylae), related species, 6 introduced naturalized species and naturally occurring species hybrids. Several of us later wondered about the use of the term systylae, rather than synstylae, with which we are more familiar, but both are valid botanical terms, with the meaning that the styles are fused. The following is what I wrote down, and nowhere near all he talked about.

Species affiliated with Rosa:

Minutifolia may be the oldest rosa-type species in N. Am.

Stellata has several sub-species. The map shows several separated areas, indicating the range was once inclusive of all of them, and separation accounts for the sub-speciation.

Diploid species of Rosa:

(For those not familiar with genetics, diploid means the plant has 2 sets of chromosomes, which is typical for rose species. Attendees without a science background realized how informative the talk was, but much of that information was lost on them.)

R. blanda- no prickles

R. woodsii- 6 sub-species.

R. foliolosa- the only white native. He plans to name a newly recognized sub-species of this for his wife. He said this species is a parent of Bayse’s Purple, but Kim told me later that recent tests have shown it is all rugosa, and I should tell Dr. Lewis to get in touch with Dr. Byrne about it. However, the Texas A&M site still lists the rose the way Dr. Lewis said.

R. palustris- serrulate leaflets, edges look almost smooth.

Tetraploid and other ploid roses:

R. carolina-  4x, derived from blanda and palustris

R. virginiana- 4x, derived from nitida and palustris. Used to be R. lucida

R. arkansana- in blanda/woodsii group, possibly autoploid (doubling of chromosomes occurring during meiosis.)

R. acicularis is 8x, some species are 6x. This is when he was talking about naturalized European amd Asian species.


R. setigera is the only native, and has the largest known chromosomes in genus rosa.  He showed a comparison photo of chromosomes, and setigera’s were about twice the size of the other.

R. wichurana or R. wichuriana has been dropped in favor of calling it R. luciae.

R. caninae- was used in ancient Greece to treat dog bites. Multiple ploidies and sub-species. An ancient cross oincluding species no longer existing.

Me with Dr. Lewis after the talk.

Me with Dr. Lewis after the talk.

Dr. Malcolm Manners talk on work he has done with roses

Part 1. He started with an overview of rose projects he has been involved with.

The musk rose, partly a DNA study, as the musk rose was a parent of the Noisette class. Three types have been found. R. moschata, R. moschata “plena”, and “Temple Musk” which appears to be a more double form of “plena”.

The Bermuda Mystery Roses. A note about Maggie, which has been found in India, Bangladesh, Florida and Bermuda. It might be Eugène E. Marlitt.

Heritage Rose Foundation (Malcolm is a board member) is involved with the New York Heritage Rose District. Putting historic roses at historic sites in New York City, teaching Girl Scouts how to propagate roses. Many roses for the project were grown at Florida Southern College.

Part 2. Rose Mosaic Virus

RMV is several diseases with the same symptoms. The most common form somehow came from a prunus. Perhaps someone was experimenting with trying to grave a plum to a rose rootstock. That kind of graft would not work, but perhaps the stock was reused after being infected. By the 1970s, 90% of roses grafted to rootstock were infected, through a combination of propagating infected rootstock, and grafting scions from infected roses.

He explained how he got involved with heat treatment of infected roses, and how the process is done.  Treated roses are also tested to ensure they are virus-free, and he explained how that is done. The testing is called virus indexing (VID) and several nurseries carry VID roses. UC Davis also does this. Each of the types of tests has been tested to be sure of no false positives or negatives.

Some findings about RMV from other tests: it cannot be spread by pruners, or aphids. Roses planted nearby aren’t likely to get it, but roots touching roots of another plant can spread it. It required very close planting to get the root to root contact required.

Me with Malcolm Manners after his talk.

Me with Malcolm Manners after his talk.

Part 3- the rest of the trip

Saturday evening, I joined Malcolm, Anita and her husband Walt for dinner at San Marino Seafood restaurant. The clam chowder was excellent- we each had a cup. Lots of bits of clams, not so much potato as most. I can’t remember what all we talked about, but we were there for 2 hours. Poor Walt. He just smiled and was pleasant the whole time, but has no real interest in roses.

Sunday morning was free time, so I went to Descanso Gardens, and had a nice long walk all over, then went to see the exhibits at the Boddy House and annex. I reached the Boddy House entrance at the same time as Anita and Walt. There was a whiteboard just outside the door with notes from the previous evening’s meeting or fundraiser. The notes were ideas for what to do about the rose garden. We hope they don’t implement any that we saw. I like the garden the way it is currently laid out, and they have a lot of roses that aren’t anywhere else in the US. A couple of years ago, they sent me budwood/ cuttings from half a dozen Japanese and other roses I wanted for the Heritage. I’m hoping we can get them planted in the Heritage this spring.

Sunday afternoon was a continuation of JDs garden dismantling. (I wrote about the first part of that here.) This time the weather was perfect, and we didn’t have the crowd we had in December. I also was by myself, with the back seats removed, so I had room to take 7 potted plants from JD as well as a good-sized batch of cuttings. Kim also brought me cuttings and 4 plants from his garden. Anita also came, not planning to collect anything, but she ended up with some cuttings as well. (Walt took a bike ride for the afternoon.) As in December, we finished the afternoon by sitting around the table with JD and his wife Jane, eating snacks, drinking wine and talking about roses. We, of course, had to keep talking until the wine wore off before driving, so although the event was supposed to go till 3, I didn’t hit the road till 4. Pismo Beach has the cheapest Motel 6 on the coast, so I drove till I got there. I was just in time to see the end of the Superbowl. Oh well. At least it was close.

Monday morning, I first stopped at a cafe in San Luis Obispo to have coffee with my friend Pete, and ended up spending the whole morning catching up with him. We were friends from when we were students at Cal Poly, so when we get together, he tells me about the friends he still keeps in touch with, and I tell him about the ones I still keep in touch with.

After that, it was just the rest of the drive back up 101 and over to Santa Cruz. An altogether great weekend.


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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One Response to Great Rosarians of the World 2013

  1. John Starnes says:


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