My Mission is the Mission of the American Rose Society

"The American Rose Society exists to promote the culture, preservation and appreciation of the Rose and to improve its standard of excellence for all people, through education and research."

Education is the top priority of the American Rose Society. I have been fortunate to assist others as a Consulting Rosarian and act as a teacher in Consulting Rosarian and Judging schools, both Horticulture and Arrangement. In all my presentations I add something beyond the basics, and these have been well regarded. I recently presented two national webinars. The presentations, one on the relevance of design principals to horticulture judging and one on chemical safety, may be viewed here. Look for 'Consulting Rosarian Seminar|Chemical Safety' in the 2021 group and 'I Didn't Realize That' in the 2020 group.

The COVID pandemic has brought us one good thing—we have learned to use electronic communications like GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar and Zoom. These tools have drawn us together as a national organization as nothing else has. We can now enjoy presentations by experts across the country without leaving our homes. This practice should continue post-COVID and if the facilities are available, remote programs could be included in in-person meetings. We should continue to build a list of rosarians available to make presentations and make that list available to our local societies. 

Rose sales were robust in 2020, and no doubt many of these purchasers were new to roses. Would these “newbies” benefit from the education we could give? Doubtless! But do they know that the ARS or local rose societies exist? Likely not, in most cases. How do we reach them? Word of mouth probably is not enough, and it is not possible to have a society member present at each point of sale at all times. I propose that it is time to consider investment in advertising and promotion in the social or print media that effectively reaches these new rose people. If we succeed in educating and recruiting them it is a triple win. The new grower learns the beauty and pleasure roses bring, the ARS benefits from new members, and the industry benefits because the new rose enthusiast will almost certainly be buying more roses. 

If the ARS succeeds in being a primary recruiter of new members, we can help our local societies by including an offer to refer the new ARS member to a local group on our membership form. Perhaps we could go even farther and actually book them a first-year local society membership for a modest add-on to the ARS dues.

Research is another major priority of the ARS. As a retired PhD chemist, this is also a major interest for me.

 There is a library of rose books in the Klima Center at headquarters and this is of value for historical studies. We have also instituted an International Rose Trial on the American Rose Center grounds which is really a research project on the performance of newer varieties in a southern climate. 

We have funded scientific research in a very modest fashion through grants to academic investigators from the Research Trust. In recent years this has been to provide seed money to support larger government grant applications for the study of rose rosette disease. Unfortunately, we are limited in the projects we can support owing to the modest funding of the Research Trust. The same is true for the Education Trust and the American Rose Society Endowment Trust. My goal, most likely a long term one, is to encourage legacy gifts to these trusts. These gifts are encouraged by personal contact with prospective donors by a professional development staffer. To facilitate this, I would propose adding a staff member so that the membership and development functions, currently combined, could be separated so that one person is solely responsible for each function.

Preservation of rose cultivars was recently added to the mission statement. The need for preservation was brought home to me while updating my program on the Classic Shrub group. Many of the cultivars I include in the program were introduced decades ago, and many of these are in commerce from a small number of nurseries. These vendors must do what is best for their business, and that may include discontinuance of some of these roses. I would thus consider these cultivars to be endangered. This is no doubt also true for older roses in other classifications. Not all cultivars may be worth preserving for various reasons, but it is a shame to see significant older cultivars become extinct. Perhaps the least we could do is establish a registry of collectors of older, off-patent and trademark varieties who may be able to provide cuttings or budwood to other interested rosarians.

Ways and Means. Several of the measures I propose will require funding above and beyond what we have been able to budget in recent times. I would like us to approach these issues with a “how can we do this” attitude rather than to simply say “it cannot be done.” One thing that should provide funding for these initiatives is… 

The Great Garden Restoration. We are near having the funds to complete the construction of the new gardens and renovations to the Klima Center building. What next? I subscribe to the vision of Executive Director Jon Corkern for promoting the use of our facilities for paid events such as weddings and business events, whereby it is expected that the revenues from these events will exceed the monies required, along with distributions from the Maintenance Trust, for the upkeep of the gardens and center. Indeed, I hope that America’s Rose Garden and the American Rose Center will be the equivalent of a Michelin 3-star restaurant, an attraction worth not just a stop or a detour but worth a journey. Some investment of initial revenues to promote the Garden and Center will likely be necessary to achieve wider knowledge of what we have to offer. I hope that by the time I would become President, if not before, we would have funding for the initiatives I suggest here and perhaps others as well.

In Conclusion, we are moving in the right direction in many area, such as the adoption of electronic communication, and we should continue to do so. The completion of the Great Garden Restoration has demonstrated that we can take bold initiatives and carry them out successfully. Let's move forward with initiatives to increase awareness of the American Rose Society, and enhance our educational and research and preservation efforts! And let's have fun and don't forget to smell the roses!