California's Rose Heritage
A Conference for the Heritage Rose Foundation
May 13-14, 2005 at the El Cerrito Community Center

by Gregg Lowery


In January of 2004 a steering committee of California old rose lovers gathered together to plan a conference for the Heritage Rose Foundation, to celebrate and learn more about the history of roses in California. We hope to entertain and educate rose lovers from around the country and the world with a program of speakers and presentations that chronicle the story of the rose in the far west of the United States. This is a story that goes back before the arrival of westerners and traces the arrival of Spanish missionaries, Californios, the early American pioneers, and the Forty-Niners, and the roses that came with them. It follows the course of California¹s development as a giant of agriculture and a major force in horticulture, and ultimately as the dominant rose-growing and rose breeding region of North America.


But it is also the story of the passionate search for and rediscovery of the legacy of roses left by these early settlers and rose breeders. We will look at some of the principal groups of roses which remain as significant elements of the human landscapes of California, including the Tea roses and their 19th century offspring, the early Hybrid Teas which thrive in neglect in cemeteries and old homesites across the state. And we will learn more about the old rambling roses which illuminate our rural roadsides in April, May and June, and their dwarf progeny, the Polyantha roses.


The rediscovery of these old roses of an earlier California have inspired all of us to grow and collect old roses, and our presentation is in part about this renaissance of interest in old roses on the West Coast. We will hear from noted rose rustlers who have rescued treasures and passed them on to others; share the stories of their discoveries, see and smell the roses, and have a chance to ask the collectors more about their finds. We will look at some new techniques for collecting old roses and documenting our collections; see how new technologies and the internet may help us in our attempts to catalogue and preserve found roses. We¹ll also have a chance to share the trials and triumphs of old rose gardeners across the state as they share their garden creations from the North Coast to the Sierra Foothills to the Central Valley to the desert.


And, finally we will look at how efforts around the world continue to try to understand the heritage of roses and sort out the puzzles of naming from Europe to Australia. We will learn about a world-wide movement to preserve old roses from extinction, and to distribute them to gardens around the globe. We believe this will be of particular interest to participants at the conference, as the Heritage Rose Foundation begins its effort to develop a network of hundreds of North American old rose collections that will be open to the public.


The conference will lead up to the Celebration of Old Roses, the Heritage Rose Group¹s annual display of thousands of old roses which is free to the public. Our meeting place will begin as a foretaste of the larger display which will take over the premises on Sunday. This extraordinary event has for many years provided a sense of community among old rose lovers in Northern California, offering collectors a chance to display their latest finds, novices a place to bring unknown roses for identification, and gardeners a magnificent plant market where they can buy locally grown roses and companion plants sold by dedicated and knowledgeable nursery people, as well as books, preserves, potpourris and the like.


Framing both ends of the conference will be two garden tours, one on the Thursday to the San Jose Heritage Rose Garden, one of the largest public collections of old roses in the world, and one on Monday to Sonoma County to visit the Lowery-Robinson collection of old roses in Sebastopol, as well as some small private rose gardens of exceptional quality.


2005 Conference Journal available for sale

Journal contents (click here to download pdf)

Cost per copy
$25.00 book rate shipping, 1 to 2 weeks.
$30.00 Priority shipping, 2 to 4 days.

Order Journal online  or

Order by mail from the HRF by sending a check to:
Heritage Rose Foundation
P.O. Box 831414
Richardson, Texas 75083

Make check out to: Heritage Rose Foundation

For wholesale purchases of 12 copies or more, interested parties should contact Gregg Lowery directly at  Wholesale price is $16.00 per copy, plus shipping.





































2005 Conference - El Cerrito, CA