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Thursday, October 22, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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In the Garden: Discover variety, learn about care at Rose Show

Roses will be in the spotlight at the Spokane Rose Society's 69th annual Rose Show on Saturday. (Susan Mulvihill / The Spokesman-Review)
Roses will be in the spotlight at the Spokane Rose Society's 69th annual Rose Show on Saturday. (Susan Mulvihill / The Spokesman-Review)

June is the perfect month to celebrate the most beloved flower in the garden, the rose. After all, roses are right in the middle of their first flush of blooms, adding color, fragrance and elegance to our landscapes.

On Saturday, the Spokane Rose Society will hold its 69th annual Rose Show at Northland Rosarium in southwest Spokane County.

“The show is a great way for attendees to appreciate this amazing flower in a way that you can’t in the garden,” Spokane Rose Society president Kevin Brownlee said. “And having the show at Northland Rosarium gives people the opportunity to see a much wider range of roses than just hybrid teas.”

In addition to the show being free and open to the public, anyone can enter their roses for judging. SRS members will even help them display blossoms to their best advantage.

“In the old days, people liked roses because they were finicky, so it was a sign of accomplishment when they could grow them,” Brownlee said. “Roses were sort of the souffle of the garden. The opposite is true now: There are ever-blooming varieties, they have a long season of interest and need very little care.”

Master Rosarian Lynn Schafer enjoys the educational aspect of the shows.

“We get to demonstrate to the public that roses aren’t fussy,” she said. “They are actually easy. They’ll bloom through the summer, you can get them in all colors except blue, you can find roses with a fragrance, or without a fragrance if you’re allergic.”

She is delighted with having Northland Rosarium as the setting for the show since attendees tend to see roses they like and often will be able to purchase them there.

Schafer, who has about 200 roses in her own garden, feels Spokane has an ideal climate for growing them.

“While we can’t grow the dinner-plate-size (blooms) that Seattle has, we don’t have to fight fungus or black spot,” she explained. “People think roses need to be sprayed and coddled, but they don’t. And breeders have focused on disease resistance, so today’s cultivars are much easier to care for.”

With the distinct possibility of another hot summer, she offered the following advice to keep roses happy and blooming:

“Give them regular, deep waterings, not just a sprinkle,” she suggested. “By giving them an inch of water once a week, they will provide you with blooms all summer long and into the fall.”

Schafer’s summertime routine is to apply a gallon of a custom fertilizer to each of her roses in mid-July.

“Other than that, my advice is to deadhead and water them, and then just enjoy your roses,” she added.

Besides viewing the roses, show attendees can watch garden guru Phyllis Stephens answer gardening questions during her radio show from 10 a.m. to noon. Spokane Rose Society members will be on hand to answer rose questions and there will be a prize drawing as well.

The Spokane Rose Society meets on the fourth Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m. in the Manito meeting room, just east of Manito Park’s Gaiser Conservatory. Guests are always welcome.

Susan Mulvihill is co-author, with Pat Munts, of “Northwest Gardener’s Handbook.” Contact her at and follow her on Facebook at

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