Robert B. Martin, Jr.
Why do we show roses?
Most of the readers of this publication already have a pretty good idea of
the answer to this question.
I address this primarily to the novice exhibitor and I think a good place
to start is to address the question of why you should consider showing
your roses. There are, as you will learn, many reasons. Here are eight
good ones in, reverse order, for you to consider.
#8. You Will Help Your Rose Society.
A central activity of nearly every rose society is the annual sponsorship
of a rose show. In this activity the society comes together with a common
purpose. The task is not easy; there is much work to do. Without
exhibitors there can be no rose show despite all our hard work. So by
entering even one bloom you help your society. Call it "solidarity";
whatever–you will show you care.
#7. You Will Encourage Others to Grow Roses.
A rose show is the principal opportunity for rosarians to show non rose
growers the vast potential and beauty of roses. That is why they are open
to the public free or at nominal cost. Beauty and pleasure ought to be
shared and a true rosarian delights in encouraging others to grow roses.
#6. You Will Encourage Rose Growers to Grow Better Roses.
Those who grow the best of roses know well the seemingly
inexhaustible potential of the rose. Do a little more for your roses and they
will reward you many times over. When you show your beautiful roses
others who grow roses will be encouraged to grow better roses. Showing
roses illuminates the potential of the rose which is in the grasp of
everyone who would try.
#5. You Will Learn How to Present and Display Roses.
Roses are beautiful on the bush. They are also beautiful cut and
displayed. Is there anyone who has grown roses who has not brought cut
roses inside for enjoyment, or taken them to the office, to a friend or to a
The rose is a universal symbol of beauty and love. Would you visit a friend
or go on a date without grooming first? I suppose in today's times there are
some who think that anything "natural" is beautiful, no matter how ugly it
is. But it is an affront to the Queen of Flowers to present her dirty and
ungroomed. The practice of the art of showing roses will teach you ways to
best present the beauty of the cut rose.
#4. You Will Learn How to Grow Better Roses.
You might have expected this reason to be number one, as it very well
might be. Exhibitors grow the best roses. If you doubt this in the least go to
a show and see. I went to my first show having had at the time over ten
years experience in growing roses. I thought I knew everything. I learned
that I knew comparably nothing. If you want to grow better roses you must
show them. You will get the unbiased opinion of an experienced judge on
how well you are doing. Fellow exhibitors will give you pointers. You will
experiment and learn from both success and failure. No one can learn to
grow the best roses unless they show them. It is that simple.
#3. You Will Learn and Reaffirm Good Personal Values.
The great San Diego exhibitor Jeff Stage has said that the trophies at a
rose show are usually awarded to those that have worked the hardest. This
is true. Growing good roses requires discipline. Roses have their own
needs and schedule; they are not interested in your excuse for not feeding
them or watering them when they need it. The insects and disease want to
take advantage of your attention to other matters. I firmly believe that in
this truth we can usually find the reason that many who would call
themselves rosarians do not exhibit roses. Losers don't like to compete;
this is because no one likes to lose. This is not to suggest that everyone
who would belong to a rose society should show roses. Far from it. There
is plenty of room for the gardener or rose lover with limited time to join
the "experts" to learn how to grow better roses. But if you want to hold
yourself out as an "expert" yourself, if you want to speak or write with
authority on roses, I continue to believe that you should submit your roses
to the test of a rose show.
#2. You Will Meet Some Very Nice People.
Winning is great, as any exhibitor will tell you. But better yet, as most
exhibitors will quickly add, is the wonderful opportunity that a rose show
provides to meet people who genuinely love roses. Rose exhibitors are,
with very few exceptions, great people. They come from all walks of life
sharing only the common love of roses. They will tell you everything they
know to give you the chance to do better than they. The warmth and
friendship of exhibitors lasts well beyond the fading of the memory of your
novice trophy and will bring you back to the show again and again.
#1. You Will Have a Lot of Fun.
Calvin Hayes, who is the premier exhibitor of our District, once confided
to me that he can barely sleep the night before a rose show. Neither can I.
Silly as it may seen, I compare my feelings the night before a rose show to
those I had as a kid on Christmas Eve when I could never seem to get
sleep even though the fear that Santa would find me awake and pass by the
house. The anticipation and excitement of an impending rose show is
tangible. And on the morning of the show there never seems to be enough
time to prepare and enter all of my roses. The hours before the show
closing fly by and afterwards I find myself holding my breath while the
judging is going on and I am trying to eat breakfast. When the show is
fully judged and I am admitted I experience great joy and deep
disappointment in my personal results. But no matter how well I do I find
the beauty of all the roses in the show overwhelming. This is great fun and
that is the number one reason we show roses.
You can do it too and I promise you ..
you will love it if you try!
This article was provided as a courtesy by the American Rose Society.