Roses at Dawn

Monday, May. 10, 2004 – 6:04 p.m.

2004-05-10 6:04

On Saturday, I got up at 4:30am. Not a usual activity for a Saturday morning but it is May, which means that it’s the start of Rose Show Season. Saturday was the Eastern North Carolina Rose Society rose show in New Bern. It was about a 2 hour drive so I was up early so I could get on the road and down there. Generally you have until about 9:30 am to get your entries placed but it always seems to take longer to get them in than one thinks. Therefore, give yourself as much lead-time as you can.

Well, it’s DARK at 5am, which was about when I got out to the garden to cut the roses. Some folk cut their roses the day before the show, or even several days before, and keep them cool (florist fidges are the best… modern regular frost-free fridges tend to dehydrate the blooms unless you wrap them.) Since I didn’t get home before dark and don’t have any room in my fridge anyway, I waited until this morning to cut the roses I brought with me. Even with the just-past-full moon, there was not enough light to cut roses without artificial illumination. So, there I was, rose bucket in one hand, pruners in the other, and the handle of one of my battery lamps stuck in my mouth.

I was a little disappointed with the number of roses that I had to choose from. Madame Hardy had only one blossom open (but loads of buds); the same was true of Rosa Mundi (it was actually only about half open). While Iceberg, Europeana, French Lace, and Glowing Peace all had blooms, they were all pretty much fully open (past exhibition stage). The same was true of Scentimental. Rembrandt has lots of blooms so I picked bunch of those, likewise for Center Gold. I picked the one Madame Hardy and Rosa Mundi; the good news is that the Rosa Mundi opened up on the trip down… the bad news is the Madame Hardy fell apart. [sigh]. I also had a few White Pet blooms that I picked. That was it. I had only two buckets and those were not that full. I will probably have a yard full next week, in time for the Raleigh show that I will not be going to (I am going up to Pittsburgh to see Blackmore’s Night in concert [grin]).

After picking what I could, I loaded up and hit the road right before 6am, right when I had planned to get on the road. Two hours later with one stop at McD, I was in New Bern… I even managed to bypass downtown Goldsboro this time! (The last two times I have driven to New Bern, I ended up missing the US 70 bypass and went through downtown Goldsboro). Arriving just after 8am, I got to the mall and signed in…. my exhibitor number was 13… well some has to be!

Looking at the show schedule, I figured I could enter Rembrandt in the Old Garden Roses after 1867 (Victorian class) and since the Rosa mundi had opened on the way, I could enter the Dowager Queen class as well. Madame Hardy would also be in the Dowager Queen class but it had disintegrated on the trip. When I went to write the tag for the Rosa Mundi, I noticed that it didn’t qualify! Hey, this rose is listed as introduced in 1581, if that doesn’t qualify, what does?? I guess since they (the ARS) classify it as a species, it isn’t an OGR…[sigh] I ended up putting it in the General Shrub class, since there wasn’t a class for Species. We will see if it is considered or disqualified. It really is a nice specimen.

White Pet is a polyantha but since I only had single blooms and not sprays; that knocked it out of entry under Polyantha. That left Minis. I had three minis that were in bloom: SunnyDew (yellow), Center Gold (yellow), and a dark red that I didn’t remember the name of. I could have looked it up on the computer, if I had had time but oh well. SunnyDew wasn’t listed in my list of Exhibition names so that left only Center Gold. I picked a bunch of those and ended up with three entries: Mini, Fully-Open Mini and Blooms in three stages – Mini.

Hmmmm.. what else can I do? There were several Challenge classes so I entered Rembrandt in the “Best Fragrance” and took the rest of the roses I had, grouped them together and put them in a mason jar. The class was “Country Bouquet” which required 8 or more total blossoms. I had about 12 blooms left, mostly Rembrandt but I stuck the one Iceberg and three White Pet in as well. Ok, compared with the other entries, it was a little short, chaotic, and the “vase” was not as nice, but I put it in 1) to fill out the table, 2) in you don’t enter it, it is GUARENTEED to not win, and 3) what else was I going to do with those blooms? Oh, I kept one bloom out to put back in the truck to make the inside smell good.

Later, in the afternoon… Well, they are handing out the prizes. I didn’t make the head table but I did get blue ribbons for my bouquet and my Rembrandt entered in the Victorian category. The winner in that category was Zéphirine Drouhin and Barrone Prevost got Dowager Queen. I also got red ribbons in Most Fragrant, the Rosa Mundi in “Shrub”, and the Cycle of Blooms – mini. My Center Gold only got Honorable Mentions in the Mini and fully-open Mini categories. [hrmph].

It might seem strange to grumble about only getting an honorable mention in a category but, in fact, a lot of entries in each category earn blue ribbons. Basically, the judges go through and decided what ribbon to give each entry then chose the best out of the blue ribbons in each class. They pretty much award some ribbon to each entry. For the Hybrid Teas (and the minis) they then choose the best in show for the Queen of the show. Not getting any ribbon generally means that the judges didn’t even consider that entry (disqualified it for some reason… Wrong name, wrong class, didn’t spell the name right (yes they can be that picky)). Therefore, a HM basically means that it was not a good entry and the judges found some major flaw. Personally I didn’t see any major flaw in my entries but … oh well. I don’t grow roses just so I can enter them in competitions. I enter rose shows because it is a way to learn about roses, talk with other rose growers, see what other folk are growing and see what else I might be interested in getting. I also get to see if what I grow measures up to what other people enter. So far it generally has. Don’t get me wrong, winning is fun… but of the four shows I have entered in the past three years, I won prizes at the first two but not the last two. Go figure.

Salt and Sand Hand Therapy

So, by about 11 am, I could tell that I had not won any categories. What to do now? I had wandered around the mall looking at the stores while the judges worked on the roses and I did find a Walden Books that was having a “buy 4 get 1 free” sale. They had some rose books I didn’t have as well as some books on general gardening so I got them; Nothing else in the mall attracted my attention. I had several choices of what to do: I could go back to that old-timey hardware store in downtown New Bern, I could go back to Tryon Palace and see if there were any other roses in bloom, or I could drive an hour further east to the beach. I chose the last one.

One of the first things I realized was that walking on the beach in black jean was not going to be the most comfortable. Well, here I was at a mall with both a Penneys and a Belk. I went into Penneys and bought a pair of shorts, then it was off to find a cash machine. Well, I eventually found one for my bank (there were lots on cash machines around, just not my bank’s.) I eventually found one in downtown New Bern then got caught by the drawbridge on US 70. Oh well, I would get there eventually. US 70 took me to Morehead City from where it is just a hop across a bridge to the barrier island of Bouge Bank and the town of Atlantic Beach. I had a real deja vu with images of Myrtle Beach, Folly Beach, Sullivan’s Island, and Ille of Palms coming to mind. I turned left on once on the island and went to the east end where Fort Macon State park is. I figured if anyplace had public beach access, it would be a state park. One of the things I know from my time living in Charleston, these ocean front towns have some pretty strict parking laws, not to mention that with all the vacation houses, there are limited access points to get to the beach. Yes, the state park seemed to be the best bet.

After finding a parking place in the lot, it was just a jaunt across the dunes to the beach itself. Of course, the park was pretty busy so there were lots of folk coming and going. I changed into the shorts and headed out. Once I got on the beach proper, I took off my shoes (I had removed my socks when I changed into shorts) and waded into the water. It felt wonderful. After walking down the beach a little, I set my shoes and bag down above the water line and walked into the water until the waves were coming up to my knees. bending down, I grabbed a hand full of wet sand and rubbed it on the scars on my hand. The sand was a little coarser that I was used to (compare with most of the beaches in SC) but that was probably just the stage of the tide and where I was on the beach. The beach at Edisto Island State Park in SC is also a mostly crushed seashell. The sand up near the dunes, above the high tide line was more like what I was used to so I grabbed a couple of handfuls of that and waded back into the water. The folk near me on the beach probably thought I was strange.

Anyway, I realized on the drive that I really didn’t have that much time to stay at the beach. I wanted to pick up my mason jar that I used for my cottage bouquet so I needed to be back in New Bern by 4 and from there back to Cary, then Durham to take care of Emerson for Muir. As I got back in the truck, I realized what was missing… I had the wrong tunes in the CD player! This definitely called for Buffet. So there I was, cruising down the road past all the beach houses, sand between my toes, windows open, smell of the ocean and the marsh coming in, and Jimmy Buffet on the car stereo… It was a snapshot in time.

Enough for now.

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