You can bet that Helen Newman, Tri-City rosarian, will be out in her garden Saturday and very early Sunday morning, looking for her best roses to take to the Tri-City Rose Society's 65th annual Rose Show. Newman is the chairwoman of this year's show.
A skilled amateur rose grower and exhibitor, Newman has won the honor of Queen of the Rose Show a phenomenal five times. The Queen of the Rose Show honor is awarded to the very best specimen of a hybrid tea or grandiflora rose entered in the show.
Part of the reason for Newman's success is that she has more than 200 roses in her own garden from which to pick when searching for the best roses for the show. She is also a Tri-City rosarian. This means she knows almost everything there is to know about growing roses in our area. It also means she is willing to teach others about growing roses and advise them on solving their rose-growing problems.
It's daunting to think of growing as many roses as Newman, but many local gardeners grow at least one or more rose bushes. Because of our dry climate and fairly mild winters, we are able to grow beautiful roses without many of the challenges growers in other parts of the country face.
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You don't have to be an expert to have pretty roses or exhibit them at a rose show. Even if you only have a few shrubs, Newman encourages you to enter one or more of your blooms in the Sunday show. Here are some tips that can lead to success when showing roses:
-- Cut your roses the day before and keep them cool or get up very early on the day of the show to get fresh blooms. (The entries will be received at the Shilo Inn's back door between 7:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. Tri-City Rose Society members will be there to help.)
-- Cut the stem as long as possible, at least 12 inches for hybrid teas and floribundas and 6 inches for mini-roses.
-- You must know the official registered variety name and type of rose so it can be judged with others against a standard for that type and variety.
-- Bring a soft cloth for polishing the rose leaves so they'll be nice and shiny.
-- Bring a sharp pair of scissors or snips for trimming off leaves and side stems.
-- Other handy items include a few cotton swabs to coax a bloom to open a little more and a soft artist's paintbrush to help remove any debris from bloom petals.
If you don't have roses to show, Newman invites you to come to the show from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Shilo Inn, 50 Comstock, Richland, to see the gorgeous roses on display. It will be breathtaking.
For more information, call Helen Newman at 509-521-3166.
-- Marianne C. Ophardt is a horticulturist for Washington State University Benton County Extension.