Our 2003 annual Heritage Rose Foundation meeting and Conference was held on the campus of Florida Southern College, in Lakeland, Florida on November 6-9, 2003. The meeting offered an opportunity to share in the camaraderie of fellow heritage rose enthusiasts, both professional and amateur, hear notable speakers, and acquire rare, one-of-a-kind roses, all at a wonderful, architecturally significant location in lush Lakeland, Florida. We look forward to seeing you at our 2005 annual meeting in El Cerrito, CA, on May 13th and 14th, 2005.
2003 Annual Meeting - November Conference
by Malcolm Manners
What a delight our annual meeting turned out to be! We had up to 63 in attendance at the various events - an enthusiastic group. The conference started off with a reception/stand-up supper, Thursday evening, November 6, in Florida Southern College's Eleanor Searle Drawing Room - a beautiful formally-furnished room - made all the more beautiful by the decorating efforts of Central Florida Heritage Rose Society members Eleanor Ramage, Carol Hoffman, and Toni Cartisano, who brought arrangements of roses. Eleanor's centerpiece arrangement on the serving table was particularly impressive.
The next morning, CFHRS members joined members of the Bermuda Rose Society and other early birds at 7:00 a.m., to set up a Bermuda-style "specimen bench" of roses - rather like an American rose show, except that the goal is to show the many varieties of roses that we grow, without the competition and judging of a formal rose show. Ann Peck brought roses all the way from Tennessee, and many of the Florida contingent brought roses. Of course, a good number came from FSC's gardens as well. That display was a great center of conversation, with numerous groups of people comparing and discussing the varieties shown. It remained set up all day Friday, and then was moved to Saturday's meeting rooms for decorating the rooms.
Next was a demonstration of shadowbox arrangements, by Liesbeth Cooper, Sheila Gray, and Marijke Peterich, of the Bermuda Rose Society. Those three boxes also then became part of the room decorations for the weekend.
To continue the Bermuda theme, the morning also included a panel discussion of the "Bermuda Mystery Roses," in which members of the BRS explained the history of the varieties, and American panel members (Mike Shoup, Phillip Robinson, Stephen Scanniello, Nancy Kohlman, Belinda Pavageau, Malcolm Manners, and Ruth Knopf) commented on how they grow in our gardens. It may well have been the most thorough discussion of this fascinating group of roses, ever. [ed. note: I had hoped to tape that discussion and print a transcript here, but in the hecticness of the meeting, I did not get a tape recorder for the session.]
After lunch in the college cafeteria, we continued with tours of the Frank Lloyd Wright campus of FSC, led by Louise Eastwood, and of FSC's rose gardens and greenhouses, led by Malcolm Manners. The HRF Board of Trustees met later in the afternoon.
On Saturday, the HRF annual general meeting was first on the agenda, followed by a fascinating report on DNA work done at FSC on rose parentage and identification (see article elsewhere in this letter). Interspersed among the events on Saturday were raffles and auctions of some of the rarest roses we had for the sale. Thanks to Doug Seidel for serving as auctioneer, and to Toni Cartisano for managing the sale of raffle tickets. These events were not only a lot of fun; they also provided a fair method of distribution for the very rare roses, without inciting a riot.
To end the morning, Dr. Art Tucker, of Delaware State University, wowed the crowd with a PowerPoint presentation, with music, of the ancient history of roses in art and literature. As always, Art's teaching style made for an entertaining, as well as educational, experience.
Saturday afternoon, we had workshops on the art and science of propagating roses. In the college greenhouses, Phillip Robinson, Gregg Lowery (both of Vintage Gardens), and Robbi Will (Antique Rose Emporium, San Antonio) explained and demonstrated how they root roses from cuttings. Concurrently, Malcolm Manners (Florida Southern College) explained and demonstrated methods of grafting and budding. At "half-time," we all traded places to hear/see the other demonstration.
Saturday evening, we were treated to a feast by the FSC food service folks - prime rib, vegetable lasagna, and all the "fixins;" even oyster dressing (at Malcolm's request). Again, Dr. Tucker entertained and educated us with a short lecture on scents, and then Bryan Skinner, our most-traveled attendee (from England) read a humourous (yes, I think I spelled that right for an Englishman...) list of things that were different in the "good old days." Then someone remembered that there was to be a total eclipse of the moon that evening, so we went out onto the patio to see it -very well-timed indeed!
On Sunday morning, we had the event many had been waiting for, throughout the conference: the sale of rare roses. The Antique Rose Emporium, Vintage Gardens, and Florida Southern College had donated plants of many varieties of roses not often seen or sold in the USA, and there was a great deal of interest and impatience among the crowd, getting to this event. The sale was a grand success, thanks in great part to members of the CFHRS and the Dallas Area Historical Rose Society, who helped set up and operate the event.
Immediately after the plant sale, many of the group loaded into a bus, for a tour of Central Florida. We started out with a couple rose gardens in Lakeland which feature heritage varieties - first the garden of Larry Burke, an FSC professor of music, who has an excellent collection of the Bermuda Mystery roses, and then on to the garden of George and Lois Manners, which emphasizes Chinas and Teas. Lois and George also provided beverages and homemade cookies (Grandma Ethel Yount's Molasses Cookies, and Betty Ochs' Sugar cookies). From there, we went to Highlands Hammock State Park, near Sebring, for a picnic lunch, followed by a couple trails through a virtually untouched cypress swamp and live-oak forest, to see some unspoiled, natural Florida. Then last stop for the day was Bok Tower Gardens, near Lake Wales, home of the Bok Tower carillon, surrounded by gardens of azaleas, camellias, tropical plants, endangered Florida natives, and yes, one tiny bed of China roses (we need to encourage them to enlarge that part...).
Every Heritage Rose Foundation conference is different from all the others, and all have pleasant, memorable experiences. I think this one will be remembered by all who attended as having been useful, informative, and well-worth attending. If you didn't make it, please do plan to attend the next one!