Mable’s Historic Rose Garden Wins Awards As Test Gardens Flourish

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Click to enlarge. Photo from Bradenton-Sarasota Rose Society

SARASOTA, Fla. – July 29, 2005 – Throughout his 18-year tenure with the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Ron Mallory, curator of Mable’s historic Rose Garden, has grown accustomed to laboring among flower gardens in Florida’s sweltering summers. But through his devotion and attention to horticultural detail, he has married traditional and innovative hybridizing techniques, thereby allowing him to produce hybrid roses using methods shunned by larger hybridizers.

Accordingly, under his tutelage, Mable’s historic Rose Garden has received prestigious accreditations from the American Rose Society and the Award of Excellence for a Demonstration Rose Garden. It has also been designated as an accredited public rose garden; only two others exist in Florida. Fittingly, Mallory recently achieved Consulting Rosarian status by the American Rose Society.

The Ringling Test Rose Garden is also flourishing, allowing 137 varieties of roses to benefit from Mallory’s expertise just like the ones in Mable’s historic Rose Garden. “It’s a great honor for us to be designated a demonstration test garden: there are only 19 others in the US. That means we are sent hybrids to evaluate how they grow,” Mallory explained. “They are then scored on points in order to be selected as an All American Rose. There are millions of dollars riding on achieving this designation. If the trial run is successful, then the hybrid roses will be patented.”

Mallory’s affinity for these fragrant, delicate blooms emanates from his youth. “When I was seven or eight years old, just after World War II, my mother had a Victory Garden. One of my chores was to take care of it. I also took care of my grandmother’s rose garden. I enjoyed it so much that neither of them had to remind me to do these chores. That’s how I became interested in roses. So at an early age, I found something I loved doing and have been doing it ever since. It fascinates me to know roses go back to ancient China and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and that ancient roses only bloomed once a year. Now, modern roses bloom all year with just a 45-day rest.”

The cultivation of a rose from delicate seedling to brilliant bloom is a difficult process, but Mallory takes it in stride, saying that he’s after “a good garden rose rather than a show rose.” His passion and modesty ensure that Mable’s historic Rose Garden wins awards and also means that the Test Garden flourishes.

One of Mallory’s hybrid roses has been registered with the American Rose Society. “The first one that was registered was the Mable Ringling Rose,” Mallory said. “The second is the Grandmother Emma Rose named after my grandmother. I’d like to name the third after a circus person, but I haven’t decided who yet. I’ll have to get permission from the family when I do. The Mable Ringling Rose is particularly fragrant, smelling like a good perfume and having a fiery red hue with just a hint of yellow.”

Mallory’s success can also be measured on an international level. “I feel honored that three ex-presidents of the American Rose Society, as well as Dr. Tommy Carnes, president of the World Federation of Rose Societies, have visited the Rose Garden,” he said. “Also, on a personal note, I am quite proud of having earned the designation of Consulting Rosarian by the American Rose Society. I took the test back in January and just received my certificate. My job will be to assist anyone who wants to start growing roses.”

April, 2007. http://www.ringling.org/about_museum_news2.asp?id=383

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