Rose lovers are having a rough year

August 18, 1997


Staff Writer

Lovers of bountiful blooms wilted when the Cumberland Valley Rose Society's June Rose Show - its most popular yearly event - was postponed until September.

Then the show was canceled, said Charles Mundey Jr., a society consulting rosarian, because there's been a war on the roses.

"Last year the roses were absolutely fabulous. This year, the late spring, the frost in May - then it's been dry, dry, dry," said Mundey, 66, of Burnside Avenue.


"And the Japanese beetles are ferocious - they're eating everything."

Mundey said the recent rainfall was simply too little, too late.

"I have 300 plants. They're not doing anything - just enough to survive," he lamented.

In 1960, the 140-member Cumberland Valley Rose Society held its first Rose Show at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts.

Next year's show is scheduled for June 6, nature permitting.

The group's mission is to generate interest in growing roses in public and private gardens and to serve as a resource for beginning rose growers.

"The society is for anyone who appreciates roses. You don't have to grow them," said second-year President Richard J. "Dick" Chaney, 76, of Spring Hill Drive.

"A person who grows just one rose bush is a rosarian," said Helen Arnold, society historian and consulting rosarian.

Chaney said new members are always welcome to join the 35-member group.

In the mid-'80s, members planted roses for the Garden of Memories at Ravenwood Lutheran Village on Luther Drive, off Frederick Street in Hagerstown.

"I served on the advisory board for three years after Ravenwood was built. They wanted a garden for their people. I suggested a rose garden," Mundey said.

Members donated most of the 60 rose bushes in the garden, and they take turns tending them, he said.

The trio said today's rose growers want more than Hybrid Teas.

"Miniature roses have exploded. They're gaining popularity because you can grow them inside in pots," Mundey said.

Also gaining favor are old garden roses, which are an open, flat-looking rose with petals forming a star in the center, Arnold explained.

Society members learn that roses by almost every other name smell as sweet.

"The Elizabeth Taylor rose is a dark- and light-pink blend," said Mundey. "The John F. Kennedy is a puny, off-white rose. And Dolly Parton's is huge - at least six inches across - a big, bright, fragrant orange-red rose."

Rose society members also pick up tips and etiquette.

"When the forsythia blooms, it's time to prune," Arnold said.

"But it's a mistake to prune climbing roses, because they bloom on last year's growth."

And roses don't have a smell, she added. Call it an aroma.

Arnold, 77, of North Colonial Drive, won 1960 Best Novice with a yellow Lowell Thomas rose and she was hooked.

"I've traveled all over the United States. I've got rose friends all over the United States. I'm glad to be a rosarian. It's the best thing that ever happened to me," Arnold said.

The group meets at 7:30 p.m. on the first Tuesday each month at St. Mark's Lutheran Church at 601 Washington Ave. in Hagerstown.

Call 301-797-3852 for more information.

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