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April 2009

Rose of the Week – 'Chevy Chase' Part I

Hand-gathered bouquets and more


This week, I’m putting the vase before the shrub, because my garden's most recent incarnation of the rose ‘Chevy Chase’ is not yet ready to be photographed. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this unique rose, try to picture the shrub from the photos here, and see if your imagination comes close to the real thing. Part II will post a few days from now.

It’s Just a Posey


Originally, posies were fragrant hand-gatherings of flowers that women, and even men, carried to mask the unsavory scents of the old world. Today, they've inspired an indispensable method for arranging roses.

Flower arrangers gather one bloom after another into their hand, and enjoy the process of how good the flowers look together as the bouquet expands.


The posey stems, above, are wired to form a nice poof. The wiring creates a mobile bouquet that's fun to experiment with. I like to see how the bouquet looks in different, similarly sized, containers. Following are three distinct looks.


This is a modern look in a beautiful Klein Reid vase available at Florali.


The roses take on a traditional look in this metal urn.


Silver repousse lends an air of opulence to the blooms. All three treatments would look good as a dining table centerpiece.

Posey Bow


'Chevy Chase' has compact bloom clusters that gather easily into a small posey, perfect for gift wrapping.

Let It All Hang Out

The next two images give clues to how the shrub grows. However, I have some surprises for you next post, you'll see 'Chevy Chase' growing three different ways.


This is an acrylic vase by Martha Sturdy, also available at Florali. One cane of 'Chevy Chase' makes a dramatic statement, and holds its own in this large container.

Wildly Ambitious

That's me when it comes to arranging roses. Anything for a picture!


When I saw the open base on this 5-ft. tall tuteur, I noticed that a square glass vase would fit nicely inside. I thought, why not try placing long canes in the water and weaving them up through the wire. It worked beautifully and once again I marveled at how cut canes last very well in water.  


Purchasing Roses in Pots



People often ask where I’ve purchased many of my unusual roses. Some nurseries have extensive rose inventories, but special events also yield exciting rose bounty. Several of my favorite purchases, like 'Belle Poitvine' above, have been made at the Celebration of Old Roses, which takes place this year, on May 17, from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., in El Cerrito, California.


I photographed the two roses, shown here, fresh out of my car on my return from the Celebration some years ago. The one on the left, and below, is a little unnamed Spinosissima. These roses, native to Scotland, are known for their small, finely cut foliage. ‘Belle Poitvine’, at right, is a Hybrid Rugosa that fufills every category for “fabulous rose.” As far as I know, it has no faults.


Don’t feel bad if you don’t live in California, similar events happen throughout the world, it just might be in a different month. Newspaper calendars, in the gardening section, traditionally list rose society events, botanical garden festivities, university horticultural department events, and open gardens. Roses propagated by students and rosarians are often sold as fund raisers.

Your Local Nursery


Nurseries are fully stocked with roses anticipating big Mother’s Day revenue. Bare root roses have been potted up and programmed to bloom just for Mom. This is a good time to see some of the new rose introductions and also research bloom and shrub style.

Shown above are a few impulse purchases from one of my local nurseries that I couldn’t resist. Note the paper pots they're are in. If you score the pots and make sure they’re wet, they can go right into the ground with the rose.

Today’s post barely mentions the “Celebration“ there will be much more about it soon.     

Rose of the Week – Cecile Brunner Part 2



Have you ever marveled
at how hefty rambling roses have small delicate blooms? Both the mighty and the mini traits of 'Climbing Cecile Brunner' make her a great candidate for arranging.



Make sure you never pronounce her name Cecil. She is Cecile, and I can’t tell you how many times rosarians have corrected me, even while I’m giving a talk (I do know better, but habit can be a problem). 'Cecile Brunner' was named after the daughter of a French nurseryman.

I had to buy this porcelain milkmaid, because she had green hair (my favorite color), and I thought there might be a photo op with her and Mlle Cecile.



CB is also called “the sweetheart rose”
and was often found planted near the graves of children in old cemeteries. CB probably inspired tiny porcelain roses, commonly found on pieces like this swan . . .


Cecile-Brunner-porcelain-rose        . . . and this Lenox vase.



More elegant than sweet, this thin silver flute gives the posey a nice elevation. All three of the above small arrangements could benefit from tieing the stems with a little wire or string to keep the blooms close and compact.


S – M – L


My days as a fashion designer
have translated into making small, medium, and large statements with roses. I’m always urging you to try new things. With this rose, arranging experiments can be endless. A large porcelain jar in the back holds big canes. The pitcher has a hand-gathering of panicles (laterals on long canes), each is really a bouquet-on-a-stem. My husband bought me the little pink vase in Venice.


By the Pair


Large bouquets are often required, by the pair, at special functions like weddings and theatrical or presentation events. I often work on both arrangements at the same time. I’ve also arranged, in tandem, with another person, which can be really fun. I made this pair to show you how expressive big branches can be. Working large with CB is a challenge, because of the thorns. I always wear protective gloves. I make sure to cut the thick canes under water, and I might even smash the ends with a hammer to make sure the water is taken up. I’m always amazed that big branches last so well. Wilting is never a problem.