The President’s Corner

The President’s Corner – By Joan Stoffer
Don’t get tired of “groomin’ the blooms” just yet! There is still an upcoming District show in East Lansing, so get out there in the rose garden and start prepping your pets. It’s too late for disbudding – (sorry Jon Wier – I missed the optimum time—- again). I expect to have a couple hardy souls to exhibit, but alas, no Queens among them.
Today, which is too blustery to work outside, I have chosen to browse through the oldest of the American Rose Annuals in my library (1950). What fun to see who was who in rosedom 61 years ago, and what was being exhibited and winning when I was near starting high school. Dr. William Ayers was ARS President in 1950, and R.C. Allen, editor of the Annual . When Dr. J. Horace McFarland established the first edition of the Annual, around 1916, the ARS numbered only 198 members with a total income of only $1885.90 In 1950, membership was 10,000 and the budget more than $40,000. Among the popular roses of that time were Sutter’s Gold, The Doctor, Ellinor Le Grice, Capistrano, Fashion, Fandango, Gordon Eddie and of course, Peace. Color objectives visualized good lasting yellows and non-bluing reds.
Advice in that era for wintering roses was to mulch with peat moss or—corncobs! Mrs. Dorsett, President of the Norman Rose Society in Norman, OK, was loving a good dust mulch. “I take my garden rake in hand and loosen and stir the good, clean top soil under my higher-than your-head roses; I don’t mean dust like inside on the piano, but about three inches of finely loosened soil as one might expect to find in a well cultivated cornfield – no clods, stick or stones. I haven’t seen a weed among my roses in years.”
Fred Glaes, President of the Reading Rose Society, Reading, PA, was stressing the value of organic matter – a change of diet in the rose garden. His established compost pile consisted of a 6 inch layer of wilted organic matter, such as weeds, leaves, grass, etc. on the ground. Next comes two inches of fresh manure. Cover with one-half inch of clean soil and sprinkle with a very light layer of lime or wood ashes. Water must be applied during construction until the pile is as wet as a squeezed-out sponge. Turn the heap at 3 weeks, 5 weeks, and four weeks later it is ready for use. The bed is then covered with ground corncobs to protect it from the sun, then watered heavily.
Favored insecticides of the time for red spiders , their eggs, and thrips, were parathion and benzene hexachloride. Midge was more persistent and DDT gave better control. Both new chemicals seemed compatible with Fermate and Copper-8 which enables mixing to form an all-purpose spray or dust of superior effectiveness.” Because fatalities have been attributed to parathion poisoning, only a fool will rush in where angels fear to tread – lest there be another angel treading.” Good advice from Ralph Dasher, Florence, Alabama, a chemist professionally as well as a lover of roses.
These are but a few tidbits from the 1950 annual – I could go on and on, but I do want to leave room for the editor to update you on results of the September rose show.

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