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Research and Current Profile of Iranian Production of Damask Rose

Posted by Tessiess 9b, SoCal Inland (My Page) on
Sun, Jan 13, 13 at 19:28

I found this document on the web about growing damask roses in Iran, where they raise these roses for rose oil and rose water. It is a BIG industry there. So I would think they would be pretty good at caring for this class of rose. Interesting that they say damasks are drought tolerant (which would make them great for Southern California). Also I found it intriguing that they describe irrigating damasks only 2 or 3 times per year! In desert conditions too. This makes me wonder if one reason why some have trouble growing damasks in hot dry regions (like Southern California) is that they water their roses too much. Could it be that damasks, which come from the Middle East, actually prefer a long dry summer dormancy? Perhaps without that dormant period they may grow extensively, but at the expense of flowering.

I've read about this in certain salvias (with nurseries saying don't water and feed too much or the plant will grow huge and gangly but won't bloom much) and in addiition I've seen a California native rose, R. minutifolia that thrives on going completely dormant in the summer (to the point of being crispy dry and dead looking). The botanic garden near me, which has huge stands of it they've had 50+ years, gives this species rose zero summer water, doesn't fertilize, or mulch it. The plant responds by looking dead as a doornail in summer. However, the moment the rains come it greens up, flowers heavily, and produces bumper crops of hips. Then I hear of rosarians who water R. minutifolia normally in summer (like their other roses, often moderns), or who live in high rainfall areas, and it dies under those circumstances.

Food for thought anyway that treating all roses alike/similarly in one's garden may not produce optimum results in all classes of roses. Maybe imitating as close as possible the conditions where a rose is native is worth considering.

Melissa

Here is a link that might be useful: Research and Current Profile of Iranian Production of Damask Rose


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Research and Current Profile of Iranian Production of Damask

In much of Southern California, the problem for Damask roses isn't summer heat, but rather, lack of winter cold. (Well, the good Lord knows, we're getting some real cold THIS year!)

Iran has a real winter. Damasks would bloom there in the spring, and then, I bet, cut back. They wouldn't do much through the hot months. Makes sense that they can do well with them there.

There's a terrific book you might enjoy, regarding travels to that part of the world, and plants there (including some roses). "TO PERSIA FOR FLOWERS," by Alice Fullerton (Pub., Oxford University Press, 1938).

It's an account of a collecting trip to that part of the world by Mrs. Fullerton and Miss Nancy Lindsay. This was the first of multiple trips to the area Miss Nancy made, but one was enough for Fullerton's health.

Well worth your time, if you can find a copy.

Jeri


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RE: Research and Current Profile of Iranian Production of Damask

I looked at the winter temps in some of the damask growing areas of Iran, and they didn't seem to be particularly cold. In other words not high winter chill areas. Like here. There seems to be a lack of evidence of winter chill being necessary for roses. Malcolm M. mentioned something about this in a recent thread I think. I live in a low winter chill area and have never had trouble growing damasks or other once-bloomers such as albas and gallicas. They flower reliably every year. So there is something wrong with the winter chill concept when applied to roses. Apples, which do require winter chill, do not do well here, even the low-chill varieties because we generally don't even get enough for them. This year might be an outlier though--it's been positively frigid lately!!!!

And I wasn't just talking about summer *heat*. I'm referring also to not watering/low water in the summer, that perhaps this is required for certain types of roses for them to give their best. Summer heat and dryness. R. minutifolia appears to need both. That made me wonder what other roses might also.

Yes, I know about that book and have read excerpts on the web, but it's been a while. Thanks for the reminder. I may try to locate one.

Melissa


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RE: Research and Current Profile of Iranian Production of Damask

  • Posted by catspa NoCA Z9 Sunset 14 (My Page) on
    Sun, Jan 13, 13 at 22:52

Something I ran into doing research about crop irrigation/water management for an ecology class I teach is Middle Eastern falaj culture (plural: aflaj; essentially, irrigation cooperatives -- something like irrigation districts in California, but ancient in origin, gravity-powered, and thus located where geological conditions are favorable, usually involving hills or mountains and plains called bajadas). Damask roses are one of the important crops cultivated in aflaj systems (along with pomegranates, walnuts, qat, etc., among others). I've included a link below: scroll down to see the terraces where the roses grow. (Jebel al Akhdar, the subject in the link, has a highest elevation of 3000m.) It does seem that most of these areas are not low elevation, so I imagine they have cooler winters. Falaj culture is very interesting from a water management perspective and I was even more interested to find out that damask roses were one of the crops.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rose Hunting in...Jebel al Akhdar


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RE: Research and Current Profile of Iranian Production of Damask

What I've found, particularly for Minutifolia, is drainage is as important as timing of water. My three, five gallon Minutifolia out back are flowering now. They're in eight year old Miracle Gro Moisture Control Potting Soil, in the same five gallon nursery cans I put them in out of the gallons from Tree of Life Nursery. They are watered regularly with the other roses and grow beautifully. When I had it planted in the ground in the Newhall garden, they received the same horse manure mulch and water as all the other roses and they flourished there, too. The end of the hill they grew on was rather sandy, draining very quickly. In too heavy, too wet soil, yes, it's easy as anything to rot them quickly. Put them somewhere they get good sun, but not the frying sun of high summer here inland (they were shaded by larger plants in Newhall; larger roses in the planter here); give them great drainage and you can get away with watering them with the other canned roses for a very long time.

I grew quite a few of the European OGRs in question in Newhall where they did get winter chill. They grew rampantly and suffered rust and black spot issues rather badly. Far more so than any modern roses other than particular Buck hybrids and the Canadian Arkansana hybrids. Their growth mass far outstripped their ability to flower, requiring harder pruning than I would have preferred to keep them from smothering others around them. The worst part was WHEN they'd flower, it was right when the cooler, earlier temps would suddenly stop, followed by high nineties to low triple digit heat causing every bud on the plants to explode and fry. As I didn't live where they grew, I seldom got to enjoy their flowers. Why waste the room, water, time and energy for things you don't get to enjoy?

For those growing at the beach, in Pacific Palisades, rust and black spot was horrible. Occasionally, there were flowers, but not many and seldom of any quality. Die back was a constant issue with the plants just "melting away" after a few years. There was just too much moisture, both airborne and soil, to keep them healthy, happy and growing well. I have encountered a very few here in Encino and they haven't been desirable specimen. Black spot, rust and die back are their issues. Kim


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RE: Research and Current Profile of Iranian Production of Damask

Duplicate post removed. Sorry!

Melissa

This post was edited by Tessiess on Mon, Jan 14, 13 at 0:56


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RE: Research and Current Profile of Iranian Production of Damask

  • Posted by catspa NoCA Z9 Sunset 14 (My Page) on
    Sun, Jan 13, 13 at 23:09

At least some albas and damasks also bloom well here in Livermore. However, we do get just enough chill hours in our microclimate to grow fruits that won't produce even a dozen miles further west, so I thought that maybe their willingness to bloom might be due to that. Informative to hear about your experience, Melissa.

~Debbie


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RE: Research and Current Profile of Iranian Production of Damask

Melissa is considerably more inland and has a greater seasonal temperature swing than the coastal areas of Southern California. It makes a huge difference.

As Kim indicates -- those roses don't make wonderful garden plants in very mild-climate areas. I'd say they could be a collector's passion -- but HERE they will disappoint in a garden setting.

You just have to consider your microclimate.

OR, you could do what we did, when we were advised that Damasks, Albas, etc. would not do well here. Plant them anyhow, and see for yourself.

We did. And discovered that our mentors were correct. They were miserable here. :-)

Jeri


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  • Posted by catspa NoCA Z9 Sunset 14 (My Page) on
    Mon, Jan 14, 13 at 22:02

As an ecologist, one of the most interesting things to me is how many times small differences make huge differences for plants.

As for the matter of drought tolerance and irrigating just 2 or 3 times a year in Iran or similar climates, it should be kept in mind that almost anywhere in the world (except maybe the Namib or Sahara deserts!) has a shorter dry season than California. Here, mid-April to mid-October in lower elevations is usually a totally dry season -- zero rain. But, if you look up the climate charts of Tehran in Iran, for example, the dry season is typically end of May to mid-September, a full 2 1/2 months shorter. This can and does make a huge difference. Perennial grasses from Mediterranean climates of Europe, for another example, only survive here next to streams inland or on the coast because everywhere else the summer is too long, hot, and dry compared to the Mediterranean, where at least a few summer rains fall.

As for chill hours here in Livermore, the closest chill hour station is Pleasanton, and records from there show that since 2007, we have gotten between 900 to 1000 chill hours per year, which is good enough to grow apricots, peaches, plums, many apples, etc. So, I'm thinking that helps with the albas, damasks, and gallicas (but my gallica gets nailed if we get a heat wave in mid-May and all of them are in afternoon-shade situations).

A number of native plants seem to be tolerant of summer watering as long as drainage is good, as Kim points out, and others do not tolerate it very well. Coastal or inland-mesic species might tolerate constant moisture (with good drainage) better, I would guess.


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I've been really depressed over the fact that any of the damask roses that I have tried to grow here in Agoura Hills have not been happy in my garden. In terms of the Iranian roses, my cousin is coming from Iran in March and bringing me cuttings. If they survive the trip, I am hopeful they will perform. My husband says that the Iranian rose, which is typically referred to as the 'Mohammadi Rose' is widespread throughout Iran. It is rampant in the South which has far warmer winters than Tehran in temperature; but the cold is still bone chilling. The roses definitely get watered and cared for though.

Here is a link that might be useful: Love, Live and Garden


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Nadia, welcome! I'm in Encino and know exactly what you mean. A word of caution...ANY plant material brought into the country from overseas requires an import permit and must be inspected by the USDA. It is a rather involved process and can end up costing you many hundreds of dollars. There are strict quarantine requirements including regular inspections by a County Agricultural Agent (which also cost you) and require the plants be grown a minimum of ten feet from anything else in the Genus Rosa. If your relative is caught attempting to smuggle them in without appropriate paperwork, If you're lucky, they will simply confiscate the material. If you're not, you can be subject to up to a $20,000 fine. I am not joking. The USDA has cracked down strongly on smuggling and even legal importation of plant materials due to some pretty nasty insects which have gotten in to a number of places in Europe, The East and Middle East. I know you want the roses, but you should strongly consider NOT attempting to bring them in. The potential costs are too severe.

For where you live, Autumn Damask is probably going to be one of the most successful, but even it will have disease and size issues. It is commercially available in the US. Kim

Here is a link that might be useful: Autumn Damask

This post was edited by roseseek on Tue, Jan 15, 13 at 2:12


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Hey, Catspa!

That bit about our dry season being longer is REALLY interesting! Of course that's true -- and of course it must make quite a difference. Particularly to us in Southern California. Rain that y'all up North are getting ... increasingly is not making it past Point Conception.

Jeri


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RE: Research and Current Profile of Iranian Production of Damask

Interesting paper, Melissa, thank you. I hadn't ever read about damask roses in Iran so I learned some things.

I was particularly intrigued by the statement that of the damask production areas in Iran, "the most famous is Kashan, in the heart of the desert, where shrubs are generally irrigated 2-3 times a year."

I wonder if that statement isn't slightly misleading in that while the county or sub province of Kashan is in the heart of the desert, Kashan, the town and one or two other small towns close to the city of Kashan are where the roses are produced.

Kashan is actually an oasis town with mountains immediately to the north of it, the desert to the east of it. It has an elevation of 1600 m, which is almost a mile. It appears that the desert to the east moderates the cold, but it does get plenty of chill hours from what I can tell. A tourist attraction to see the rose gathering in that area seems to be a small town south of the city of Kashan, Ghamsar, which is almost completely surrounded by mountains and is too an oasis town. The pictures I saw of Ghamsar show a fairly lush area, trees, grasses surrounding the rose fields.

At any rate, it does seem to me that the wording is slightly misleading - the pictures of that desert are formidable! But that's not where the roses grow.

Jeri, I ordered that book, thank you.

This post was edited by harborrose on Tue, Jan 15, 13 at 14:46


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RE: Research and Current Profile of Iranian Production of Damask

Gean, I bet you'll enjoy it. A fascinating look at another time. In fact, I think I need to re-read it. :-)

Jeri


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  • Posted by catspa NoCA Z9 Sunset 14 (My Page) on
    Wed, Jan 16, 13 at 12:45

Gean, A good point about Kashan -- crops there are irrigated by a qanat irrigation canal system, with "qanat" being just another word for "falaj". The mountains to the north of town would be the source of water where the mother well and the underground portions of the canal would be located (see the diagram on the Wikipedia link below).

Jeri, it was a great hope of ranchers during the late 19th/early 20th centuries that introducing Mediterranean perennial grasses would "improve" lower-elevation grazing in California. The first in a string of introductions was smilo grass (Piptatherum miliaceum) in 1869. Where is ol' smilo today in eastern Alameda County? Hugging the banks of creeks and nowhere else. Oh well. My labmate at UC Davis, Jeffery Clary, studied patterns of perennial grass dominance and precipitation patterns in Europe and showed that where those perennial grasses dominate, at least scattered events of summer rain are typical. But, even scattered events are enough to tip the scale toward survival.

That being said, there are at least a few roses in the Livermore area (15" avg. annual precip) that apparently get no irrigation at all and seem to have survived that way for decades. High water table in some cases, maybe.

I am looking forward to "To Persia for Roses", requested via interlibrary loan -- thanks for the recommendation!

~Debbie

Here is a link that might be useful: Qanat/falaj irrigation


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  • Posted by catspa NoCA Z9 Sunset 14 (My Page) on
    Wed, Jan 16, 13 at 13:01

Correction: that should be "To Persia for Flowers".


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RE: Research and Current Profile of Iranian Production of Damask

Yes, Debbie -- There ARE roses to be found in that general area. The amount of rainfall you get, OR the water table, OR something has enabled some remarkable survivals.

Down here -- different story.

I know of just one place where roses survived, in any quantity, in greater Southern California. And they survived only through a completely unique set of circumstances.

We do get wetter years, but we are very dry. In areas where nothing has been planted, you see mostly prickly-pear cactus and rock. :-( For that matter, I'm not positive some of the prickly pear wasn't planted.

Jeri


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RE: Research and Current Profile of Iranian Production of Damask

That being said, I do like Melissa's point about thinking about a rose's natural habitat in considering how to grow it. Kim sent me r. fedtschenkoana which I killed - I'd thought it got way too much rainfall/water. We got 70 inches of rainfall last year. But maybe it really should have been put into a faster draining soil with some sand in it instead of the MG potting soil I planted it into. It's all a learning adventure, isn't it? With species especially I'm going to think about natural habitat more, even in a pot as the r. fedtschenkoana was.

Debbie, I looked at that blog posting you linked to about the roses on the terraces and the irrigation canals, thanks.


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Ralph Moore told me that he almost killed R. minutifolia -- before he realized that he had to NOT water it.

Jeri


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  • Posted by catspa NoCA Z9 Sunset 14 (My Page) on
    Fri, Jan 18, 13 at 13:17

Totally agree that Melissa's point about nature being the best guide on how to grow was a very good one (before we veered off to just how drought tolerant or requiring various roses and such might be...). As a consultant, most restoration questions that I get on native habitats are best answered by asking, "Well, what happens under natural conditions?" Of course, the client sometimes doesn't like the answer that gives... :-(


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In the article the author says the rosewater from the merchant smelled like wood and not like perfume. Was that because in time the wood smell would go away and the rose scent remain? I was confused by that. I have had rose petals soak in spring water before and make a kind of perfume but it never kept in a bottle, I had to use it right away.


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Roseseek,

Thank you! I didn't realize it not okay to bring in the cuttings! I had the story of Rose De Rescht in my mind and being optimistic I guess. That is the end of that idea! Are you growing autumn damask?


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Hi Nadia, you're welcome! I didn't want to see you or your cousin have any difficulties over it. No ma'am, I'm not growing Autumn Damask. I have narrowed my garden down to those roses I want to breed with and the Damasks don't have the drought tolerance and disease resistance in this climate I seek in parents. Heirloom shows they have it in stock, so you should be able to obtain it from them now. Kim

Here is a link that might be useful: Heirloom Autumn Damask


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Kim, I have the Heirloom catalog. I will take a closer look at it. But you got me thinking, I wonder if any of the famous rose breeders have thought to go into countries such as Iran, Syria etc, incur the costs and hassle of importing the roses and marketing them under their label? There seems to be a resurgence of interest in OGR roses.. I wonder if that has ever been a viable option for any of the big rose breeders..oh well!!! Probably not! But I sure would be happy to buy some at my local nursery!!


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  • Posted by catspa NoCa Z9 Sunset 14 (My Page) on
    Sun, Jan 20, 13 at 23:26

Kittymoonbeam, Jebel al Akhdar is in Oman and apparently the Omani style of rosewater is famous both for its unique mode of production and resultant smoky flavor/scent. An illustrative quote from this website (http://www.absolutetrygve.com/2011/04/omani-roses.html):

"The smoky Omani rosewater may be an acquired taste, but I can tell you it's possible to acquire it. Just don't try to compare it to Bulgarian or anything we think of as "rosewater." The best use for it is in Omani Halwa, which is nothing like anything you know as "halwa" unless you have had the Omani one specifically. It's a strange, ultra rich and oddly compulsive mix of ghee, sugar, pectin, pistachios, saffron, cardamom...and when it's from Barka then you are in fat city in more ways than one. It's really, terrifically good. But wait til you get the Barka one and then you will understand the Omani rose harvest 100%."

We here tend to think "Crabtree and Evelyn" when it comes to rosewater, and some are apparently like that, but there seem to be a number of kinds. A link below also describes how it is made in Oman. Of note is that the rosewater is rendered from the rose petals with virtually no added water aside from a few drops sprinkled on them!

~Debbie

Here is a link that might be useful: Rosewater of Jebel Akhdar


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RE: Research and Current Profile of Iranian Production of Damask

Not that I'm aware of Nadia. There would need to be a nursery in the exporting country who would be able and willing to supply the appropriate paperwork and comply with the requirements for shipping, and an official government agricultural department able and willing to properly inspect and certify the material before shipment. It wouldn't be something breeders would require as there are many Damask type roses already in the country. If those in use in Iran were shown to be sufficiently superior to what's already here and sufficient demand could be created, it may appeal to someone to try. Kim


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RE: Research and Current Profile of Iranian Production of Damask

Hey Nadia! It's not from Iran or Syria, but there is a rose that Antique Rose Emporium sells that might appeal to you. It is a found rose from Morocco, called, guess what? Moroccan Rose. It's a rose I've always thought seemed rather appealing, but for one reason or another I've never gotten around to ordering.

Melissa

Here is a link that might be useful: Moroccan Rose at ARE


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Nadia I am growing Autumn Damask in Orange County CA. I love this rose and its outstanding pure perfume. It's extremely thorny and upright to 8-10 feet if not pruned down. The beautiful informal flowers come in groups on the stem. One will open and then the rest will follow. The faded flowers hang on the plant. It's not a hard rose to grow but it needs a place where it can be tall and not grab anyone in the wind. Mine is in a corner tucked back behind some shorter La Reine and William Shakespeare 2000 roses. The bees adore this rose and so do I. Every spring I wait to smell the perfume and my roses are almost all chosen for perfume. I wanted this rose for it's history and because it was a parent of the first Bourbon roses so they say. The leaves are very pretty too and I don't have any trouble with diseases on this rose. The only consideration about this rose is its size which is large and the very plentiful and long thorns. This rose does bloom later in the year but of course the spring bloom is the best. This rose keeps its spot in my small garden because the fragrance is pure, sweet and strong Damask.


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Just beginning to bloom


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In bloom. I have not had any bad years with this rose. Most of the year it just looks like a tall thorn monster but it stays green. I feel bad for anyone who had the job of picking these all day *ouch* I should have worn gloves for this.


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One last photo that I took this morning of the plant. It is currently at 7'+ It had a pruning after the fall flush because I was worried that it would hurt someone walking by on the other side of the fence when the santa ana winds started. As you can see, it bounced right back to a tall plant right away. I hope some of you will try this plant. The minimal care it requires along with the beauty of it in spring and the luxury of the perfume are enough for me and adding its history in is a bonus. If I made rose sachet or jam or candied petals this rose would be my rose of choice.


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Well, you might have a convert. I think that is a beautiful plant even without the flowers--and, I love the flowers! I can just imagine the heavenly scent.
Thanks for the pics.

Anne


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This is one of the roses you'll find in about every old cemetery. It's ancient, ancient -- and so beautiful. I love it even when it's not in bloom, because the foliage is gorgeous, and the hips are interesting.

We've seen old plants that were HUGE, and some like this one, which is clearly cut to the ground from time to time, but survives and blooms, all the same.

Jeri


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I love it Kitty! And looking forward to photos of those buds once opened.


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I had it once. The foliage IS beautiful and the flowers divine, but the thorns are a nightmare.

Don't grow it in a humid area, though. Have you heard of Damask crud? It ain't pretty. (The reason I only had it once.)


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Melissa, Kim and kittymoonbeam, Thank you SO MUCH! I appreciate all the info and the pictures :-)I think I'm totally sold on Autumn Damask thanks to the pictures and the over the top enticing description.

Melissa, thanks for the suggestion on the Moroccan Rose. I will look into it. It looks really pretty. I don't care where its from I just would love for it to be OGR (pref. damask and fragrant. Thanks again everybody. I really appreciate all the help :-)


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You're welcome Nadia! Once you have the others collected, and you find you have more room, there is ONE more...

Crestline Mulberry is a rose I "discovered" nearly thirty years ago. I hadn't grown it in many years, but re collected a sucker of it from a friend's garden in Torrance, CA last week. She, through her rose society, has spread it all around the Palos Verdes area because it grows so well there. It could also fill the bill for the type of Old Rose you're looking for. Arena Roses offered it for sale in their first printed catalog and it should still grow in the old rose bed at The Huntington Library, so if you're out there when things are blooming, you can see it. The last nursery I know of offering it was Muriel Humenick's Rose Acres, up in El Dorado, CA, but that was several years ago. Muriel was the source of many of my early old, rare and wonderfully obscure roses and is a lovely lady with a wonderful garden. Kim

http://www.helpmefind.com/gardening/l.php?l=17.3022

Here is a link that might be useful: Crestline Mulberry


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RE: Research and Current Profile of Iranian Production of Damask

Bellegallica,

No I haven't heard of it? Interesting name though!!! Damask Crud... I wonder who named it?


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RE: Research and Current Profile of Iranian Production of Damask

I really like the long sepals that someone told me are characteristic of damask rosebuds. But I noticed that, as pictured in catalogs, not all the roses sold as damasks have these. Is this something that varies with cultivation, or are different clones being offered?


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RE: Research and Current Profile of Iranian Production of Damask

I don't know about that rose in particular, but I've grown no few roses whose sepals are quite variable.

And then, there are the roses with interesting sepals which I've watched rose exhibitors alter with scissors. So, you just never really know . . .

Jeri


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RE: Research and Current Profile of Iranian Production of Damask

nadia, I don't know who first called it Damask crud, but that's the term many people use to describe what black spot does to Damask roses. In most roses, black spot causes leaf drop. In damasks, the leaves just hang on and get uglier and uglier until they're a total brownish blackish mess. And still they hang one. You have to pull them off.

And then, there are the roses with interesting sepals which I've watched rose exhibitors alter with scissors.

LOL. Beauty is in the eye ...

I love the long feathery sepals.


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