Heritage Roses: Many of the Plants Brought West by Pioneers Are Still Thriving, Thanks to Efforts by Dedicated Rosarians

By Swezey, Laureen Bonar | Sunset, May 1998 | Go to article overview

Heritage Roses: Many of the Plants Brought West by Pioneers Are Still Thriving, Thanks to Efforts by Dedicated Rosarians


Swezey, Laureen Bonar, Sunset


Before the turn of the century, Mendocino, California, was an isolated community, connected to the rest of the world only by ships that plied the Pacific. But that didn't stop Daisy MacCallum - daughter of one of the area's original settlers, William Kelley - from obtaining roses. Many of them arrived on her father's supply ships to adorn her gardens in Mendocino and Glen Blair, east of Fort Bragg. MacCallum was a generous woman, and as the years went by, she gave cuttings of her roses to anyone who wanted them. Now, more than 100 years later, only 6 of her original 140 roses still live in the MacCallum House garden in Mendocino. But many descendants of those first plants thrive around old homes and in abandoned gardens.

Stories like MacCallum's abound in the West. When pioneer families came here by wagon on the Oregon and California trails, or by ship around Cape Horn, many carried their favorite roses with them. They protected the plants as lovingly as their other prized possessions - sometimes even sacrificing their drinking water to keep the roses alive.

Heritage roses - old roses that have survived since those times - can still be found growing in communities from Arizona to Oregon. Dedicated rosarians like Miriam Wilkins and Erica Calkins (see page 80) have made it their mission to save and perpetuate this diverse group of plants with names that run from the humble 'Adam' to the exotic 'Duchesse de Brabant'.

Organizations such as the Heritage Roses Group, founded by Wilkins, document the plants and work to locate, identify, tend, and renew them. At the same time, more growers are offering heritage roses (see sources on page 82), making it easy for gardeners to plant some living history.

Rescuing old roses in California

"I FELL IN LOVE with old roses 35 years ago when I bought my first home," says Joyce Demits. "I discovered they were the roses that survive in deer country." For more than three decades, she and her sister, Virginia Hopper, have been finding and preserving heritage roses.

The sisters have traveled up and down the Mendocino coast, scouting for plants and gathering' cuttings at abandoned homesteads. "Sometimes we would happen upon a row of rose bushes in full bloom partially covered by brush," says Demits. "Suddenly, we could 'see' a fence line. Of course, there was nothing left of the fence they bordered, or the home."

Demits and Hopper have documented nearly 400 varieties of heritage roses growing in Northern California. In the mid-1980s, they established the Heritage Rose Garden at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, where visitors can view almost 50 varieties. The sisters also started a local chapter of the Heritage Roses Group.

Alice Flores, another aficionado, joined in local preservation efforts about 12 years ago. "I became fascinated with Mendocino's heritage roses because they're so beautiful and have wonderful fragrance," she says. "These tried-and-true roses are disease- and drought-resistant." Flores started identifying and mapping plants, locating about 50 sites in town where at least one historic rose grows.

Sadly, not everyone appreciates the value of these roses. "People see an old plant in their yard that hasn't been cared for and they rip it out," says Flores. She has helped persuade some homeowners to rejuvenate their old roses instead.

Thanks to the work of these women, Mendocino's historic roses are sure to live on. The three rosarians propagate and sell the plants through their mail-order nurseries. An endowment established by Hopper and Demits funds the Heritage Rose Garden, which also receives support from the Mendocino County Heritage Roses Group.

Tracking pioneer plants in Oregon

Appreciating roses must be in her genes, figures Erica Calkins of Oregon City, Oregon, since her grandparents were rose lovers too. But it wasn't until six years ago, when Calkins began studying pioneer history and the Oregon Trail, that her fondness for old garden roses really blossomed. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Heritage Roses: Many of the Plants Brought West by Pioneers Are Still Thriving, Thanks to Efforts by Dedicated Rosarians
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.