No-Spray Queen of Show


Laurie, Tristan and I were very active and involved with the Albuquerque Rose Society and the American Rose Society (ARS) from 2000 to 2007, and I continued to produce the Albuquerque Rose Society’s monthly newsletter until my first bout with cancer in 2010, and then I continued to print their newsletter until a few years ago. We met Susan Graham, who comments on this blog, through the Albuquerque Rose Society. Susan is also an award winning Rosarian and rose judge. She also wrote the rules for judging photographs of roses.

Since we do not spray our roses, we allow natural predators to take care of pests by planting companion plants that help attract predators. When we first started attending Albuquerque Rose Society meetings, we were told we would never win first place or Queen of Show without spaying our roses. We took that as a challenge, and worked very hard on encouraging predators, caring for and grooming our roses without spraying. By 2002 we were entering roses and rose arrangements in ARS rose shows and winning first places, and eventually Tristan, Laurie and I, all three, won Queen of Show with our arrangements. Laurie’s brother thought I was less than manly to arrange roses, so I was rather excited to win Queen of Show, as I knew that would annoy him to no end.

In 2006 our rose garden was part of the Albuquerque Garden Tour. The ARS sent us a box of systemic insecticide to hand out to people on the tour. Not only did we refuse to hand out the insecticide, we ended up having a falling out with the American Rose Society over the insecticide when we learned they got some paltry donation from the company that produced the insecticide plus the handouts. Seeing the ARS as easy sell-outs to an insecticidal corporation, we dropped our memberships. I also ended up taking the insecticide to a hazmat disposal facility to get rid of it.

In the current issue of Roses & You: news from the American Rose Society (July 2019), that Susan forwarded to me, the current President of the ARS, Bob Martin, wrote an article titled THE BUGS OF SUMMER. In his article he equates people like us who don’t spray their roses with poisons as lazy people who don’t care for their roses, people like anti-vaxers, and people who don’t care enough to treat their dogs for fleas. Mr. Martin writes:

What to do? Too occupied to take care of their roses this summer some declare theirs to be a “no-spray” garden. This is greeted with the applause of their environmentally-conscious friends, as well as the multi-legged applause of beetles, spider mites, and chilli thrips. The “no-spray garden” – Turning indolence into a garden virtue! I find that odd. Like a rosarian version of the anti-vax advocates we hear voices that claim if we just leave the roses alone, natural predators will arrive to bring the garden back into balance. Really? Do the proponents of these views believe the same of their pets? “My dog has fleas, but I don’t believe in health care or the use of chemicals but will just wait until the dog is back in balance.”

The way we see it, we are not lazy rosarians, as it’s very difficult to produce award winning roses without spraying poisons on them. I also disagree with him on fleas. We don’t treat our cats for fleas using insecticidal flea treatments, either. Our kitties are always licking each other, and we don’t want to poison our kitties trying to kill fleas. Instead, we rub catnip on the kitties, which is quite effective for controlling fleas, and the kitties love it.

As you can see from the photo below of a small sample of awards we’ve won over the years, we have won many First Place ribbons, Royalty Awards, Gold Certificates and Queen of Show for roses and roses we used in arrangements that were not sprayed with insecticides.


Below are samples of some our award winning arrangements and un-sprayed roses from over the years. Note: I took screenshots from posts on my T&L Photos blog for several of the rose photos below —  it was much more expedient than finding the original photos.

44 thoughts on “No-Spray Queen of Show

  1. Hi, Tim. I’m glad you did this post. I think of the CR class *back when* – I had forgotten how many years have gone by; and the Arrangement School, which Laurie’s mom also attended.Then, a visit to your garden in 2008, and the opportunity to photograph your garden, when *my camera died* – which was the real beginning of my diving into photography because the new dSLR was nothing like the compact digitals. So hard to believe how the years have flown by…There are many different ways to enjoy roses. If the ARS wonders about dropping membership, its leaders need to recognize that being inclusive and accepting a range of viewpoints will be more successful that drawing lines around specific actions and creating an *us* vs *them* attitude within the organization.
    Loved seeing all the images and ribbons.
    Thanks for this post, and ALL the times I’ve been allowed to visit your garden; do “photographic excursions” in New Mexico; and just enjoy the company.

    • Hi Susan. The years have flown by, and not only are we both still kicking, we have had, and still have, great rose and photography experiences together. We both know too well the issues we’ve had with the ARS. I find it’s very sad for a person like Bob Martin to write an article alienating people who don’t want to use poisons. His article reminds me of the fights we had with the ARS in 2006. The whole thing was insane. Both of us continue to grow beautiful roses, which we can enjoy and share with the world through our blogs. Sharing our roses with our followers is much more satisfying than ARS ribbons and certificates of awards we have stored in plastic bags.

  2. This is wonderful, Tim. Screenshots or not, the photos are lovely. I especially like the one with the pyramid — very inventive.
    I got a kick out of your remark about your brother-in-law and the “Queen of Show” award. 😀
    What a terrific collection of achievements for the three of you. Congrats to all of you. Hugs on the wing.

    • Thanks, Teagan. My brother-in-law is now into growing wildflowers to help propagate bees and other pollinating insects. I guess my queenliness rubbed off on him.

  3. Yes- you guys stuck it to The Man, which happened to not be a man, but you catch my drift. An enjoyable post none the less. Congrats on your no spray successes.

  4. Oh my goodness Tim, this is so wonderful. I love knowing you guys do this. I really think all the awards are certainly well deserved. I don’t spray my roses either. This year they aren’t looking so good but I have high hopes they will recover! 🙂 Yay for you!

    • Hi Michelle. Good to hear you are a no sprayer. When it gets hot roses will suffer. Give your roses plenty of water if you can and maybe some fertilizer.

  5. You never cease to amaze me with your many talents! Bravo for sticking to your guns and avoiding pesticides!! Some people are so ignorant, sad that we have to share this planet with them. I have had cats my whole life and I have never thought to rub the catnip on them for flea control, trying it!!

    • Thanks, Tiffany. We use fresh catnip that crows like crazy in our garden, but I don’t see why dry catnip would be any different if you don’t have fresh catnip.

  6. A great post, your roses remind me of my Mums garden, she doesn’t spray but gets black dots on the leaves, the roses seem to survive though. One of the best flower arrangers I know is a man, I think creativity flows into all activities irrespective of gender. Your imagination to create these is fabulous.

    • Thanks, Heather. Black spot and mildew are problems in cool, wet climates. We live in a very dry climate, so neither one is much of a problem. We’ve lost more roses to late freezes than diseases or insects; although, bag worms have done a lot of damage to some of our rose bushes.

  7. Hi Tim,
    What companion plant do you think will help prevent thrips, which I seem to have acquired in the past few years. Thanks.

    • Companion plants are used to attract beneficial insects and predators. They don’t prevent pests. One of the best natural controls for thrips is Amblyseius Cucumeris. Simply order them on-line.

      • I try very hard to have good comapnion plants and pollenator attractors in the yard and to avoid sprays. I will check out your suggestion. I had nice roses this spring too with the help of wasps and birds eating aphids and other insect eggs.

  8. Thank you for sharing your rose history as well as your thoughts and principles when it comes to chemical insecticides. As a product of an Australian agricultural college during the 1960’s I was raised on DDT and Dieldrin. (almost literally because there was very little protection from inhaling or ingesting)
    Fortunately I have not suffered ill health and the utter stupidity of chemical warfare in horticultre and agriculture has eventually become apparent.
    Needs more people like you to take a stance and use natural alternatives.

    • Thanks. DDT did have a huge effect in efforts to control malaria. For dealing with large-scale infestations, some use of insecticides can probably be justified. But using insecticides on roses to mainly to get first place ribbons is irresponsible in my opinion.

  9. You go, Timothy! CONGRATULATIONS, you Queen of Arrangements! Congrats to all!
    Mr. Martin is an idiot. People like him will poison us all in the end. They are poisoning us all, and themselves in many ways. Hmmm, maybe he has already poisoned himself, and that why his thoughts are poisonous.
    Anyway, gorgeous roses. You are a true renaissance man.

    • HI Resa. You may be right about poisoning himself. We used to think he was a reasonable fellow.

  10. Hey Tim love your roses! What a credit to you all. We are organic as you know .. and I wouldn’t want it any other way. As for Mr Martin’s comment … Lazy … really? Nothing lazy about not spraying poisons!! Rather clever I would think .. I would say Tim that some people should actually ‘wake up and smell the roses’ …

  11. Beautiful roses. I cannot understand why people would discourage what is safe and what works. I think what you did in your Rose garden required a lot of skill, patience, and work.

    P.s. I so much envy your golden rose hands. I wish I can have even a tiny fraction of that talent. 😊

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