Thursday, January 31, 2013

"You're the Rose Lady, Aren't You?"

This is what the member of grounds crew at Hollywood Cemetery asked me when he saw me on Tuesday afternoon.  It was a perfect unseasonably-warm day to be outside ... and I have a lot to do there in the next few weeks.

Rose that grows in the Hazen plot at Hollywood Cemetery ... identity unknown.
(photo taken May 2009)

Did I tell you that I am consulting with the "Friends of Hollywood Cemetery" and the cemetery management on the rehabilitation and care of their collection of historic roses?  They approached me last year to do this, and I am thrilled at the opportunity to help in an official (though volunteer) capacity.

"Hazen Plot", May 2009

The first stage of my plan was to meet with Donald, the Grounds Supervisor, to pick his brain.  He and I did this over the course of a couple of days ... one of which was a wonderful autumn afternoon we spent riding around in his Gator, talking about the roses and all of the other things he has done there since he started working at Hollywood in 1967. 

"Hazen Plot", January 2012.  The bush has been struggling, and about 50% of it is dead wood.

In order to care for and preserve the roses, we have to know what is currently there.  Over the course of a few weeks, Donald put together a list and a map of every rose in the cemetery's 135 acres.  He gave it to me two weeks ago.  The next step is for me to evaluate and photograph every rose on the list, in preparation for a big volunteer work day on March 23.

"Hazen Plot", new growth, May 2009

That is what I was doing when I was there on Tuesday.  I had the rose list and map, and my notebook and camera.  Over the course of the afternoon, I was able to visit 28 of the 120+ roses on the list ... making notes about each rose's condition and what it needs to have done to it.  Some of the roses I saw are in great condition, some are struggling badly.

"Hazen Plot", lateral with leaves, January 2012

Most of the roses at Hollywood do not have tags.  Part of my evaluation is to photograph each rose (bush, canes, leaves, etc.) to create an archive to begin the identification process.  I know there are folks out there who have already done some of this, but none of their ID work in not Hollywood's records.  (One of my goals for later in the year is to contact as many of these people as I can, to find out what they know.)

"Hazen Plot" buds, May 2009

Rose identification is not my thing.  I am in awe of people who can look at a rose, whether it has flowers and leaves or not, and zero in on its identity.  If I'm trying to identify a rose doesn't have flowers on it, I can generally tell whether it is a once-bloomer or a repeat-bloomer, and probably narrow it down to a choice of one or two classes ... that's about as close as I can get.

"Hazen Plot" winter hips, January 2012

Whatever basic information I can gather on each rose, as it is right now, should be enough for me to use to formulate a plan for our work day.  Most of the roses have some dead wood, and some have volunteer weed trees and/or ivy and vines growing in them ... all of which needs to be removed.  The vigorous roses will need some thinning and training, to set them on a good path to grow to their best potential this summer.  The struggling roses must to be handled gently, removing only dead and diseased material, to give them the best chance to grow strong again.

I have a LOT to do to prepare for the volunteer work day on March 23 ... the most important of which is to sign up a bunch of volunteers.  By the beginning of next week, I hope to have contacted rose societies and garden clubs, sent an email blast to my Hartwood Roses mailing list, and placed notices on online gardening forums.  With 120+ roses to work on, and 135 acres to cover, I think I'm going to need a lot of volunteers.

The first official volunteer to sign on was Stephen Scanniello, president of the Heritage Rose Foundation.  It's hard for me to wrap my brain around the fact the my project at Hollywood Cemetery is one that big-name rose guys have asked to help with ... yes, folks, he asked ME if he could help.  (yes, I'm blushing) 

If you are local, or want to travel here in March, and you want to be a part of the work day at Hollywood, let me know.  (no time or schedule yet ... but I should have that soon.)


  1. Exciting!! I'm not in Virginia, but I'd love to keep up with your progress through the blog. I'm sure there's a lot I can learn from what you're doing. Have fun!!

  2. What a great thing to be a part of! I'm a bit too far away to help out but I'm hoping you'll keep us posted on this well-worthwhile project.

  3. Loads of well wishes from us down here.....thanks to you and all of your volunteers for such a great effort to save some very special roses!


  4. Oh- How exciting, Connie. I think it is wonderful to be known as "the Rose Lady"...a perfectly fitting name for you...well..that and The Closet Lady! xo Diana

  5. You are a good egg, Connie... and better to be called the Rose lady than the bag lady :-)

  6. Wish I was local, Connie! Exciting times ahead.

  7. How exciting and what a great project to be part of! I know nothing about roses, and am just an admirer of their beauty and am in awe of people like you who have so much expertise and knowledge about them!

  8. Goodness, I wish I did not have a black thumb. When I was a kid we had two lovely rose bushes on the side of my house that threatened to take over the driveway.My father cut them "down" and they came back. He poured gasoline on them and they came back. We moved. I had a pathetic bush here at my new home so I tried my dad's rose revitalizing trick and cut it down. It seems to have worked. ;)

  9. What a super cool thing to do, Hollywood is a beautiful historic place! - Susan

  10. This is great and important work that you have undertaken. You are preserving a portion of the history of roses in America. I can see why Steven would be involved.
    I only wish that I lived closer.
    Don Rogers

  11. This is a real exciting job Conny, I'm looking forward to hear about your progress and which varieties and cultivars are growing on that Cemetry. I also never heard before of the "Hazen Plot" rose, but I shall find out.

  12. Janneke, you won't find information on this rose by the name "Hazen Plot", I don't think. I call it by this name, as a study name, because this is the name of the family in the cemetery plot where it is planted. It is a beautiful rose ... one of my favorites in the cemetery.

  13. They are lucky to have you! I think it is fabulous that the cemetery noticed that their roses needed some tending to, and cataloging. You are the perfect choice. Good luck with it all.

  14. are a rose brainiac, Connie. lol I can't even imagine all of the facts, figures, and knowledge you have stored in that magnificent mind of yours, girl! What an honor to be asked to do this - and what fun it will be to work with all of those volunteers this spring! Can hardly wait to hear more about it! :)

    xoxo laurie

  15. WOW! Connie, how fabulous you were asked to help; it's a massive job. As you know, this is where Dave (and his first wife, Cathy) are buried and it's a beautiful, historic, ancient cemetery...a great final resting place.


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