Magazine article Sunset

Best of the West

Magazine article Sunset

Best of the West

Article excerpt

A regional romance

Westerners dote on their roses, and roses love the West

* The West is rose country.

As far back as 35 or 40 million years ago, fossils testify, roses were growing in Colorado, Oregon, and Montana. When the first Europeans arrived in the West, they found wild roses all about, as far north as Alaska. Cultivated varieties such as the damask rose, introduced by a Frenchman in 1786, took to the region with enthusiasm.

Nowadays the West starts off the nation's year with Pasadena's Tournament of Roses. As the year progresses, roses emerge throughout the region: by April in the Southwest, by May in the San Francisco Bay Area. Come June, Portland's Rose Festival is in full swing (June 1-25 this year; 503/227-2681), and the climbers and ramblers of Washington and British Columbia sprawl floriferously over garden walls. The mountain states are abloom by July.

Roses are also big business in the West. Ninety-five percent of the nation's roses are field-grown in Western states, over half in Wasco, California, which celebrates its agricultural prowess with a Festival of Roses (September 9-10 this year; 661/758-2616). …

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