Beauty unfolds at Vancouver rose show

Cut roses display the care lavished on hundreds of local gardens

By Eric Florip, Columbian transportation & environment reporter

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Louis Rossetto called it a natural beauty.

The Electron hybrid tea rose he and his wife Sally entered into this year's Vancouver rose show didn't need a lot of grooming before it was displayed Saturday at the First Church of God. By the afternoon, the huge cut flower and its deep-pink petals had earned top honors as the event's "Queen of Show."

"We didn't have to do much with it," Louis Rossetto said.

Rossetto's winner was one at least 600 to 700 entries on display at Sunday's event, according to organizers with the Fort Vancouver Rose Society. Participants didn't pick just any flower out of the garden. Most took great care to clean, adjust and set the roses just right for display, even the morning of the show. That's because rosarians take what they do very seriously, said Don Deane, a member of the Fort Vancouver Rose Society who helped take down the outdoor "grooming tent" later in the afternoon. Petals and trimmings remained scattered on the parking lot outside the church.

Entries are judged on more than just the flower itself. Foliage and stem are also evaluated, Deane said. Every feature plays a role in a rose's overall presentation to judges, he said.

"We're looking for something that's very pleasing to the eye," Deane said. "So when you look at it, you say, 'that's gorgeous.'"

Saturday's show included numerous categories, among them miniatures, most fragrant and best "spray" -- that is, multiple blooms on a single stem. Other entries were displayed in groups, in bowls or attached to wooden frames against a black backdrop.

Dorothy Butler described Saturday's collection the best she'd seen at the show. And that's saying something -- the Portland resident entered her first rose show in 1946. Vancouver's show began shortly after the Fort Vancouver society was founded in 1953.

Several society members said they tend more than 200 rose bushes at their own homes. The Vancouver show brings entries from across the region, giving a good sample of what varieties of rose thrive from one locale to the next, said society president Mike Caballero.

Rossetto, a past president of the group, said he's been entering shows for about 10 years, but focuses mostly on his hometown show. As for his own yard, the Vancouver resident said, he might have more rose bushes than lawn.

"Roses are more easy to take care of than grass," Rossetto said. "I hate grass."

Eric Florip: 360-735-4541; http://twitter.com/col_enviro; eric.florip@columbian.com.