No-Spray Queen of Show

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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.

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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.

Many Sides of a Buckeye Butterfly

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I was out digging up elm trees, pruning roses, and fixing one of the drip systems in the wee hours of the morning. While walking between my different tasks, I noticed a few Buckeye Butterflies feeding on the little morning glories growing in the mulch. I grabbed my camera, and followed one around as it flew from one morning glory to another.

It didn’t open its wings other than to fly or do quick flutters to catch its balance against a sudden breeze. I had to catch it in flight or while it was catching it’s balance to get photos of it with its wings open, so there is movement in some of the shots.

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Wildflowers @ 11,000 Feet

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With it 100º F (37.8º C) at our house, we hopped in the Mazda Miata MX-5, put the top down and headed for the hills — well Sandia Crest at 11,000 feet (3352.8 meters) above sea level. The drive to the top was a blast as the MX-5 hugged the corners well above the posted speed limit. We could see the clouds swirling above us, and hear the birds singing with the top down, as rounded one hairpin turn after another on our way to the top. Once at the top of the Crest, the temperature was 55º F (12.8º C) with drizzling rain and cold wind. Quite a contrast from the sunny, hot valley below. We walked around on the mountain top and noticed there were lots of wild flowers blooming.

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