Lynne Harrington didn’t know much about roses when she attended her first meeting of the Rhode Island Rose Society. She had one rose plant, and didn’t even know the variety.
Now, some years later, she can’t get enough of the flowers, and has several varieties growing in her yard.
“People will share every piece of knowledge they have with you,” Harrington said of the group, her enthusiasm for what has become a beloved hobby bubbling through the phone. “There’s no hiding of the info — if you find something, you share it with everyone.”
Harrington is the society’s vice president and chairwoman for the 21st Annual Rose Show. This year’s theme is “Art of the Rose,” and the show will be held at the Cold Spring Community Center in Wickford, 30 Beach Street, on Saturday June 15 from 1-3:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
The flower show will feature rose arrangements submitted in a variety of categories, which include Art Nouveau, Watercolors, A Still Life With Roses, Dutch Masters, The History of Art, and Rose Tattoo Art. This last category was suggested by Harrington, and a description for it reads: “Anything Goes!” The other categories were developed by Patsy Cunningham, who Harrington calls a master arranger.
“I have just fallen in love with the whole beauty of the rose,” Harrington said, citing Salvador Dali’s popular “Rose Meditative” painting, and the works of Dutch masters, which she finds romantic. “I love the art of roses, I don’t know how else to describe it,” she said, her voice still buoyant with enthusiasm.
Among the varieties of roses growing in Harrington’s Cranston garden are Screaming Neon (a bit wild and exotic looking), George Burns Floribunda (a variety with speckles and splashes of color; fun and funky), a Dr. Brownell Hybrid Tea (a sort of coy yellow variety), and a David Austin Shrub Rose (pink and ruffled like a ball gown). Each a distinct sort of rose, and among the varieties that may be featured in Saturday’s show.
Harrington has selected striped roses as the special variation participants are asked to enter this year. “I don’t know if they are well-known outside the really geeky rose world,” she said, explaining that she loves the colors of striped varieties, and is looking forward to seeing the entries.
There will be some roses will be for sale at the show, and visitors will also be able to ask members questions about rose varieties or best growing practices for this area.
“It’s free help if you need it,” Harrington said. “You’ll meet a bunch of people who think about roses all day long. We’re so deep into the dirt right now it’s crazy.”
The Rose Society was founded about 20 years ago by Angie and Mike Chute, current board members and the author of several publications about roses, which they will also have for sale Saturday. The group has grown to include about 90 active members from around Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts and Connecticut.
The group meets almost monthly, usually at Anchor Bay Assisted Living in East Providence. A yearly membership costs $20, and members have access to the knowledge of other members, as well as a quarterly newsletter — The “Rhode Island Rose Review” — filled with everything from advice to recipes. The next meeting will be a potluck luncheon on Aug. 10 at Aspray Boathouse in Pawtuxet Village. For more information about the society, the upcoming rose show, or becoming a member, visit its website, rirs.org.
“We encourage everyone to grow roses,” Harrington said, “[and] we have so much fun.”