Dear Friends in Roses,
Another American Rose Society election approaches. Having been an unsuccessful candidate in the last two, I have come to believe that endorsements, even by prominent rosarians, do not make that much difference to the campaign. As rosarians, however, we do tend to rely on reports from others on their experiences in making rose decisions. And since I know both candidates in the current race, I am writing to share with you my reasons for supporting the candidate I recommend and to invite you to join me.
I believe the best candidate for ARS Vice-President is Diane Sommers. In fact I encouraged her to run after having made the decision that I would not. Why? The answer is simple – because she grows and shows the best roses.
How do I know this? I have seen her roses. I have seen her travel great distances to show roses in national shows and I have seen her roses in local shows. And, since all the show results in the country come to me, I get reports of her winning roses. I know she won her district’s Ralph Moore Trophy in 2011 with seven beautiful miniature roses. I know how hard it is to win this trophy having done so myself four times in our district. I know she won Queen of Show in 2011 with ‘European Touch’ and ‘Playgirl’. I see reports of her winning numerous additional trophies with hybrid teas, floribundas, miniatures and miniflora roses. Diane is also one of my reporters for Horizon Roses, which I edit, and annually submits to me along with other top exhibitors in the country a report on the exhibition potential of the newest roses.
Diane also shows her roses in other ways. She is a gifted arranger whose winning entries include the ARS Ralph Moore trophy at the 2009 Mini National. There the theme was “From sea to shining sea”, which she executed primarily with ‘Stars ‘n’ Stripes’, a striped miniature hybridized by Ralph Moore. She also opens her own garden, which was on the tour for the 2010 Mini National, an event she chaired.
I know also that Diane is an ambassador for roses. She speaks regularly about growing roses including programs at local libraries with titles like “Simple Steps to Growing Great Roses”. Also, she hosts expert garden walks among the roses at her local botanical garden.
I contrast this with her opponent, Pat Shanley, whose roses I have never seen, and whose name I have never seen in any show results. In Syracuse, at the 2011 Mini National, I attended Pat’s talk, where I was told very little about growing roses. Instead, my memory of that talk is dominated by a fantastic story of her Great Dane bounding about her garden some time after she had sprayed Daconil for black spot, following which the dog came in the house and dropped dead. (I am not making this up.) From this awful experience she concluded she would never spray her roses again. This of course is bad science and at the least some questionable public relations for roses, giving the impression to both lovers of dogs and the environment that those of us who spray roses are dangers to them both. At the very least, I cannot imagine how such tales can be viewed as promotional of growing roses.
Diane Sommers has other very good qualities. Many will emphasize her service as ARS Treasurer and Chair of the Finance Committee. She has done a good job here and has had a lot to do with keeping the ARS afloat financially through some very tough times. Others, who support Pat Shanley will cite her last six years of service as chair of the ARS Membership and Marketing Committee. I am less impressed with this considering that during that same period the ARS lost nearly half of its membership.
I have long thought that membership is like the Field of Dreams: “if you build it, they will come.” The American Rose Society exists to provide education and expertise in the growing of roses. It’s about the roses. And, in these days of information overload, it has become very hard to get our message out above all the noise. This year – in 2012 – we again have a choice for our leadership. To carry our message, I want the person who grows - and shows - the best roses, and is most willing and able to share that knowledge with others. In this election, that person is Diane Sommers and I invite you to join me in voting for her for ARS Vice-President.