Thursday, November 21, 2013

International Heritage Rose Foundation Conference

The Heritage Rose Foundation conference in Lakeland, Florida, last weekend was wonderful!!  I spent five days immersed in everything roses, and I met so many new people.

Travel day on Thursday started on a bad note (accidently showed up for my flight at the wrong airport).  JetBlue fixed everything, I phoned the rental car company and amended my reservation, and things went smoothly from then on.  The conference kicked off on Thursday evening with a reception at Florida Southern College, our host location.

This is the new rose garden, designed by Stephen Scanniello to coordinate with the Frank Lloyd Wright buildings on the campus of FSC.

Friday, our group boarded two tour busses and set off to see the rosy sights, accompanied by a steady drizzle.  Our first stop was Rose Petals Nursery, owned by my friend Cydney Wade (who was responsible for planning the whole bus tour.)  This was my first opportunity to see Cydney's place in person.  She and her husband worked SO hard to prepare to host our group ... the place was beautiful!

The sign that greeted us as we got off the bus.

A beautiful vignette in the potting/working area, with a note from Cydney's sweet husband.

I plan to absolutely steal this idea to display my own collection of antique watering cans.

A little bit of light rain can't stop true rosarians from enjoying a beautiful garden.
My magic umbrella must have lost its power.  I bought it two years ago, have taken it unopened on every trip since then, and it had never rained until this trip.

This is 'Emmie Gray' a China rose from Bermuda.

'Papa Gontier', Tea rose, with a windmill in the background.

Bottle tree!!!

Rusty rooster in a hanging basket, with 'Reve d'Or' in the background.

Hibiscus, with benches full of Rose Petals' roses for sale beyond.

Spanish Moss in the trees seems so exotic, to this Virginia girl.

Next stop was The Dudley Farm, a Florida state park.  It is one of the last vestiges of an intact working central Florida farm, donated to the state by the last Dudley to live there.  Unlike some historic sites that are recreations of a way of life, this one is the REAL DEAL, with the 1880s house, outbuildings, fences, livestock, gardens, and crops.  I wish we had had more time to explore here ... I will certainly return when I go back to visit Cydney in the next year or so.

The Dudley house is a short walk from the visitor's center, along a path that was once the main road to Gainesville.

More trees with Spanish Moss.

The Dudley House, with its swept garden, full of original roses and other plants.

The main hall.

A bedroom, with quilting frame hanging from the ceiling.

Another bedroom.


Notice the swept paths in the garden.

Tropical plants, and a few roses, in the garden on the side of the house.

I don't remember what this building was called.

Chimney, made of native stone.

Our final stop was the garden of Don and Jan Rogers.  It's a brand new garden, filled with their collection of modern and old garden roses.

All of the roses are still small, since the garden is new.

'Gruss an Aachen'

This is Cydney, looking radiant and exhausted, as the day concluded.

We got down to the business of the conference on Saturday, meeting in the Alumni Center at FSC.  After a quick continental breakfast, the morning's programs began.  We first heard from Dr. Nancy Morvillo, who gave us a lesson on DNA ... in a way that we non-scientific folks could all totally understand.  Next, two students at a NYC science high school reported on their own rose DNA experiments.

Because of the rain, lunch was set up on the Frank Lloyd Wright esplanades beside the new rose garden.  If you look carefully, you can see me on the far left.

photo by Malcolm Manners

My program about the roses at Hollywood Cemetery was the first one after lunch.  I was a tiny bit apprehensive about the maiden voyage of a program on such an important subject in front of this distinguished audience ... but I needn't have been at all concerned.  The program went super smoothly, and I spoke for only a little bit over my allotted one-hour time slot.  I was told by lots of people for the whole rest of the weekend that they enjoyed it and they are now a LOT more interested in cemeteries and their history.  (I don't get nervous at all about talking to a large audience like this, thank goodness ... it may sound strange, but I think it's FUN.)

Stephen Scanniello's introduction, with my title slide on the screen.

Getting started.  (Malcolm Manners photo)

I'm rollin' now!  (Malcolm Manners photo)

Programs concluded with a beautiful presentation by Peggy Cornett, Curator of Plants at Monticello, about Thomas Jefferson and his roses.

The members of the Bermuda Rose Society had a lovely display of shadow box arrangements ... a form that they are famous for.  I'm not much of a flower arranger, but these were so beautiful and unique that I may have to rework an old picture frame and give this a go.



Saturday night was all about the buffet banquet and auctions.  Rare rose books and other goodies were on the Silent Auction.  We were treated, as we are every year, to Stephen Scanniello's talents as an auctioneer for the Live Auction.  He works the room like a pro, bringing lots of laughter and even more $$$ for HRF.  I won a very rare China rose in the live auction, but there was a mix-up at the cashier ... someone else paid for it and took it.  The person wasn't there on Sunday for me to talk to them, and I doubt I will get my rose.

Sunday was more relaxed, with the general HRF meeting, a taste of the new Rosa Mundi (publication by HRF) given by Gregg Lowery, and an inspiring program by Mike Shoupe on considerations for rose breeding in the future.  I spent some time in the sunshine in the new FSC rose garden, snapping a few photos and absorbing the atmosphere.

That steel gazebo in the center of the garden is HUGE.




... and then it was over.  Memorable snapshots from the weekend were the time I spent visiting with the delightful people from Bermuda, or having dinner chatting and eating Thai food with Tom Carruth (rose breeder and Curator of the garden at The Huntington) and Etienne Bouret (a SUPERB garden photographer from France), or comparing notes with Stephen Hoy (writer of the wonderful "Singularly Beautiful Roses" newsletter), or reconnecting with the lovely ladies that I met last year in the conference in Sacramento, and so much more. The whole weekend was a who's who of so many rose people that I admire ... don't pinch me, because I don't want to wake up.   

This said, I am really glad to be home. I am motivated and energized to get to work on my own roses. I got a great idea for a new garden while I was at the Dudley Farm. Speaking of roses, I only came home with two new ones from the rose sale ('Bloomfield Abundance' and "Green Mount Cemetery Red") ... I still can't believe that I had that kind of restraint.  To all of the rose people that I met this weekend, it was a pleasure to get to know you in person!   Thank you for helping to make my trip such a memorable one.


  1. I'm glad you had a lovely weekend even after the adventurous start!

    How fun to chat with other rose people and renew previous acquaintances.

    I wonder where the next HRF meeting will be?

  2. You look extremely pretty beneath that umbrella, Connie. Oh, and I can't wait to see your watering can display!

  3. I LOVE that house, watering can display, Spanish moss... heck, it's all great!

  4. Etienne Bouret! His photos make me foam at the mouth! His photos are what made me keep buying more! And more!! I fell in love with hp's because of him.
    You were in "High Cotton" honey , but I guess you are pretty high yourself! (grn)

  5. Thank you for the story and photos of this trip, such fun for rose lovers. The Dudley house and garden look lovely, so do the roses especially the last one 'Busye's purple'.
    Oh and Ruby looks cute but he is so right he does not like to wear a hat.
    Have a nice weekend,

  6. Hi Connie, Congratulations on your presentation going so well! I wish I felt comfortable in front of a crowd, glad there are those folks like you that do. Thanks for sharing about your trip.

  7. Connie,
    Terrific review of the Lakeland conference. I had a marvelous time, despite the non-stop showers. This was my first time attending an HRF conference, and now I'm hooked. Great to see you yesterday at Tufton. cheers, Peggy

  8. Sounds like a great weekend. Congratulations on your success!

  9. Just reading about your conference and seeing all the lovely photographs brings a smile, Connie. If your presentation was even a fraction as good as this post, you were a smashing success.

  10. Connie,
    Thank you so much for helping to make our event a success!

    stephen scanniello

  11. By the way, the next HRF event will be the dedication of the Anne Belovich Rambler Garden in Chambersville, TX (north of Dallas). Dates: May 3-4, 2014

  12. Dear Connie,

    Olga and I really enjoyed meeting you and hearing your wonderful presentation and all the challenges takes to do the wonderful job you manage at the Hollywood Cemetary! Hope to see you again at future heirloom rose events...

    Scott Drucker


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