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Rose show celebrates famed flower’s Asian roots

Bruce Lind, the consulting rosarian and a retired University of Puget Sound math professor, stops to look at an American Pillar blossom, a variety with roots in Asia.
Bruce Lind, the consulting rosarian and a retired University of Puget Sound math professor, stops to look at an American Pillar blossom, a variety with roots in Asia. dmontesino@thenewstribune.com

Head to the outer ring of rose bushes closest to the duck pond at the Point Defiance Park’s rose garden for the really interesting stuff.

There’s Königin von Dänemark, a pink rose with a green button, which was first introduced in “rose commerce” in early 1800s. It’s one of Bruce Lind’s favorites.

The consulting rosarian with the Tacoma Rose Society (the caretakers of the Point Defiance rose garden) and retired math professor from University of Puget Sound also has a soft spot for the Baronne Prevost, a vivid pink rose with a bloom that’s 3-4 inches wide, with hundreds of compact petals. “It’s super fragrant, a marvelous rose. It’s a repeater,” said Lind. That term means that it blooms repeatedly.

The rose bushes at Point Defiance aren’t that old, mostly planted in the late 1980s, but these particular rose cultivars have been in commerce since the early 1800s.

They are also the roses Tacoma Rose Society members hope you have growing in your own backyard. And they want you to see if it’s a prize winner at their annual show, held Saturday at Tacoma’s Jackson Hall.

The old cultivar roses are also the focus of “Roses of the Silk Road,” the theme for this year’s show, which Lind described as “a romanticization that the idea of these plants we revere had their origin and trade on the Silk Road.”

“China is a big source of roses that were used in breeding programs on the European continent and the British Isles,” explained Lind. “Climbing roses and a lot of the large roses we have now have their origins in massive roses that were first grown in China, Korea and Japan.”

The show is not just a contest, it’s also an exhibition with community members welcome to drop by and take in the sights — and scents. Yes, there will be a fragrance contest as part of the show, and it’s the one segment in which all attendees can participate by casting a vote for their favorite.

Here are a few other things to know about the rose show:

Entry: The event is free. All you have to do is show up with your home-grown rose entry between 6:30 and 9:45 a.m. the day of the show. The show is open to the public from noon to 5 p.m.

Before you go: Read the rules before entering. Visit tacomarosesociety.org, then click on events until you find the section called “annual rose show.”

Rose arrangements: The Silk Road theme plays heavily in this part of the show. There are 16 arrangement classes with varying rules and restrictions.

Horticulture open classes: That’s the category everyone wants to view. Roses of numerous types are entered in this class and they’ll all be on display to the public.

Don’t grow roses? No problem. You can enter anyway. Just snap a picture of a rose and enter it into the society’s photo contest. Just be sure your entry is a 5-by-7 inches or 8-by-10 inches; it can be either a color or black-and-white photograph.

Can’t make the show?

How about a self-guided tour of the Point Defiance Park’s rose garden, which is maintained and tended by volunteers from the Tacoma Rose Society? Here’s what to watch for at the garden:

Ferdinand Pichard: That was the first hybrid tea rose introduced in the late 1800s. It’s a repeating bloomer that’s classified as a red blend, but “it’s white with red stripes, depending on weather and how much sun the rose gets,” said Lind. Find it on the outer ring of the rose garden.

Arbor roses: Check out the “rambler” roses on the park’s rose arbor for some true beauties. Lind likes American Pillar, a pink rambler with a prominent white eye in the center. Excelsa, a rose with small clusters of petals in vivid pink, is another not to miss (they look kind of like carnations).

Tacoma Rose Society Annual Rose Show

When: Noon-5 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Jackson Hall, 314 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tacoma.

Entries: Drop off between 6:30-9:45 a.m.

Admission and entries: Free. Free parking in the garage next to Jackson Hall.

Contact: tacomarosesociety.org.