Ever Green

By Lois Taylor

Friday, October 25, 1996

Pimentel's 'Amalia' rose.
By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin

Stars are born in Waianae

If you go to the big Rose Show on Nov. 2, be sure to look for Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, John Wayne, Ingrid Bergman, Queen Elizabeth and Mr. Lincoln-they'll all be there. You say most of them are dead? Not when they're roses, they aren't.

Roses have been named for these celebrities and thousands of other people, places and things since 1867 and the cultivation of the first hybrid tea roses. The Honolulu Rose Society hopes to demystify the art of growing roses at the show, and to interest the gardening public in their beautiful flowers.

Barbara Billand, chairman of the show, and her mother, Rose Pimentel, are among the most successful rose growers on the Waianae Coast. Pimentel and her daughter are two of Oahu's three Consulting Rosarians. The third is Ed Larm of Kaneohe. Consulting Rosarians are accredited by the American Rose Society, and must grow all kinds of roses and teach their techniques to others.

Pimentel grows her roses either in pots or in long, narrow cement-lined troughs in her garden so that she can amend the sandy soil of her property. "The neighbors though we were digging cemetery plots," she said.

She uses a mixture of dirt, compost, perlite and soil conditioner to form a loose but rich soil. Pimentel estimates that she is growing about 400 bushes of about half as many varieties. Most of them date to after Hurricane Iniki that wiped out most of her collection.

"It hit hard here in Waianae," Pimentel said. "The house moved off its foundation and landed on about 125 plants. Later we dug under the house, but the plants had too much salt on them to survive."

Rose Pimentel with a rose species she named "Ruffles."
By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin

She started over, rebuilding the house and replanting the garden. Roses, Pimentel says, require only two things. "You need 6 to 7 hours of sunlight, and you have to be very, very interested in what you're doing. My neighbor says, 'How can you spend all that time in your garden?' when he's on his way to go fishing. I don't like fishing. He fishes, I garden."

While most serious orchid growers confine their collections to one or two species, Pimentel said that rose growers like a little bit of everything in their gardens.

"Hybrid teas are the most popular," she said, "but I also grow polyanthas, miniature roses and climbing roses." Polyanthas have large clusters of small flowers that bloom almost all the time.

Pimentel chooses her new plants as much by their names as their records, somewhat like gamblers at a race track. "'Sexy Rexy,' I'm the only one in the club with that,"she said. She and Billand are now in the process of having a rose named for Tom Selleck.

With the thousands of varieties of roses available from mainland nurseries, the first thing a novice rose grower should consider is which ones will grow here. "Much of the information available is for mainland growers," Billand said. "Because Hawaii doesn't have seasons, or a dormant period, we need our own growing information."

So the Honolulu Rose Society published its own booklet on the specifics of choosing, buying and growing roses in our climate. The booklet will be available at the Rose Show Nov. 2. It was put together from the practical experience of society members, and starts the novice grower in the right direction.

"We talk about water. Water is very important to roses, and the plants have to be soaked to keep the feeder roots alive," Pimentel said. "I'm a Catholic, and when I water I say a 'Hail Mary' instead of staring into space. That's just about the right timing." For non-Catholics, about 5 gallons a week per plant is a minimum, and potted plants need even more water. Plants should be watered daily.

Pimentel applies Miracle Gro to her plants every two weeks and a 15-15-15 rose fertilizer every six weeks. She also recommends Once Rose Food from Jackson and Perkins, the mainland rose growers, at the rate of 1 tablespoonful every month for potted plants and a cup once a year for plants in the ground.

"Epsom salts is a good source of magnesium for roses. It helps to give green leaves and good basal breaks (the production of new stems from old growth)," Pimentel said. Some growers mix 1 tablespoon to a gallon of water, but Pimentel says she gets fine results by just sprinkling the crystals around the base of the plant and watering it in. This is done every six months.

Roses are very attractive flowers to humans, and even more so to bugs, and it's an ongoing fight, Billand said. The Honolulu Rose Society recommends spraying Malathion on whiteflies and thrips, and a variety of other products on other insects. This is all spelled out in their booklet. Spray in the early morning or late afternoon so the plants won't burn. Don't spray on windy days or very hot days. Take a shower after spraying to protect your skin. Most important, follow the instructions on the bottle to the letter. Then Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn will be very happy in your garden.

Blooming show

What: Honolulu Rose Society annual rose show
When: Nov. 2, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Visitors will be asked to vote for their favorite rose
Where: Pearlridge Shopping Center, Uptown, between the Disney Store and escalator
Cost: Free

Send queries along with name and phone number to: Evergreen by Lois Taylor, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802. Or send e-mail to features@starbulletin.com. Please be sure to include a phone number.

Evergreen by Lois Taylor is a regular Friday feature of the
Honolulu Star-Bulletin. © 1996 All rights reserved.


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