Last Sunday I finally made it to the Palm Desert Rose Society's Annual Show. Although I have been here in the desert for a number of years, I always seem to have missed it in the past. This society was formed in 1985 and boasts a thriving group of over 200 members. I have to admit to a rather scathing preconception of roses in this area, having seen many very scraggy looking bushes with scruffy blooms. However I was thrilled to find myself in a room packed with row upon row of beautiful blooms and this was late in the second day of the show. Exploring the show was a visual delight but I have to say that despite all those blooms in one space, there was little scent - what a pity breeding of so many modern roses has lost the perfume.
There were hybrid tea, floribundas, miniatures, shrub roses and old fashioned polyantha roses. Throughout the benches there was a liberal scattering of red and blue
ribbons. It did seem odd that there were multiple first and second
prizes within each Section and class but I understood that it was society
policy to encourage all growers. 'Everyone's a winner!'
As well as the immaculately presented show blooms, as individual flowers and sometimes as groups of three or five, there were the floral art sections. And throughout the show, all the roses were beautifully named. Apologies that the pics aren't captioned - I really should have noted the names!
Deciding I finally needed to know how roses such as this were grown in the desert, I approached one of the members with a badge. Sure enough I got a knowledgeable mini-lecture on rose growing. Feeding is key, as the soil locally is of course desert sand and mildew and black spot are fortunately non-existent due to the dry climate. Noting my accent, they then told me that the show judge was from the UK and would I like to meet him. I was led to the kitchen where a group of members were eating a pizza lunch. I was introduced
and to my astonishment found he was from Felixstowe - the little Suffolk town
where I was born and brought up - small world!