President’s Letter

On Saturday January 7, 2012, we said a last goodbye to our friend Art Wiley. Entering the chapel at Zaagman Memorial, my eye was quickly drawn to the breathtaking blanket of roses atop Art’s casket; a soft apricot-peach hue. Art’s family had set up several boards of family pictures, sweet memories of the early years and then children, grands and greats. Also displayed were some of this Master Carver’s duck decoys – a fine artist as well as rosarian. Art was a quiet man of many talents. I know you miss him Joan, and we do too.
The winter of 2011 into 2012, so far, has not been kind to our roses. The back and forth warm to cold cycles after we had already put them to sleep for the winter may cause more winterkill in some of our gardens than usual. However, I doubt it will be nearly as disastrous as in Europe 1955-1956.
Wilhelm Kordes of Sparrieshoop, Holstein, Germany writes “1955-56 was a catastrophe for many parts of rose growing lands. Unusually high temps in January started nearly all the roses growing. Frost came in February and the growing plants were killed in Southern Europe, but not here. Under such conditions, looking for unhurt roses produced only a few. One rose especially stood out – Rosa pendulina, often called Rosa Alpina in Europe – hardly used now. The few forms still in use, Mme. Saucy de Parabere and Inermis, were unhurt. Another rose that kept up its good name was Pike’s Peak. We started hybridizing with this rose years ago, but it was not repeat flowering, not even with modern floribunda. The repeat-flowering R. kordesii in most cases came down to the soil, but in wind-sheltered places, remained very hardy; the hardiest being Dortmund and Leverkusen. Summer was worse than the winter. Some parts of Germany saw no sun for 8 weeks. Roses were blown to shreds by storms and were nearly impossible to spray. 1956 will be, in the memory of rose people, the worse we have had for 40 years.”
The next GVRS meeting will be in March and perhaps we will have some idea at that time how our gardens have withstood Michigan’s wicked winter. Hope to see all of you there.


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