Have Roses–Will Arrange
Sweet Peas

Miriam Wilkins' Old Rose Bouquet


In November, emails were flying about Miriam Wilkins being honored for her rose world accomplishments by the city of El Cerrito. If possible, we all wanted to join her on her special evening.

Several people hoped to bring bouquets, but had no roses. Kristina Osborn asked if I could make a small old rose bouquet for Miriam. I said, “Oh yes, but I’m not sure how many old roses it will have.”


Here's a close-up of Lamarque, Pink Gruss an Achen, Souvenir de St. Anne’s, and one Rouletii bloom looking at Jeanne La Joie.

On December 2, the morning of the event, I went hopefully into the garden in search of old roses. To my surprise, I ended up with so many I thought I should type up a list for Miriam. A few were still in bud, a couple had only one bloom each, and two were there in hip form, but the list contained 29 old or ‘oldish’ roses. I thought that was pretty amazing considering we were 19 days from winter.

I think of bouquets in stages, like cooks think of recipes. Here are the how-tos for

Miriam's Bouquet


Two buckets of blooms and tangle of branches waiting for prep.

1. The harvesting was a thorny affair since I was using Happenstance, R. multiflora, R. rugosa, and Jeanne La Joie branches as a filler.


The prepared rose greens and roses waiting to be arranged.

2. Preparation included removing unsightly guard petals and removing lower leaves, and thorns so stems would not get caught on insertion.


The glass basket with a handle was chosen for ease in transporting the bouquet eventually to Miriam’s home.

3. The branches went in first to form a stable armature to hold the roses. Now is where I usually say, “The roses go in with ease.” This bouquet was a fussy production. The insertions went pretty well in the front, but I didn’t have enough full blooms for the back. It looks good in the picture at the top of the page, but later I added some David Austin roses to the back section for more fullness.

Miriam and Gregg


Miriam was so happy! I love this picture of her with Gregg Lowery. I’m not used to photographing with a flash––the arty touch is thanks to my confusion.

Here’s the rose list ––all the roses are linked to helpmefind so you can find out more about them. Be sure and click on the ‘photos’ tab to find additional pictures of the featured rose.



Miriam and me.

Miriam called to tell me how much fun she had identifying the roses. She said the bouquet lasted a long time. (That's because there were so many buds, especially of singles, which open so easily if harvested when the sepals have just separated.)