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Photo credit: Karen England.
Karen England, 2019, with her Berries & Cream climbing rose planted 2001.

By Karen England.

Surprise! I started writing this letter in early July as my usual Editor's Letter and, in the meantime, at the recent board meeting, I was made president-elect of our group. I'm as surprised as you are I bet! So - welcome to my first President's Letter! I am going to be both the newsletter editor and the president from now on. This is quite fortuitous for me since I have so many things I'd like to write about that I may even write both letters in the coming months. Stay tuned!

As a member of other groups and societies besides the San Diego Horticultural Society; I belong to the International Herb Association, the American Herb Society, the American Rose Society, the Vista Garden Club, and more - I have been avidly reading each group's newsletters and publications since becoming the managing editor of our newsletter last September, even before the pandemic. Now though, I've been watching carefully what the other groups are doing to respond to the novel coronavirus in light of all the changes that COVID-19 has brought to everyone, so that I can be inspired by their creative approaches and learn from them.

Photo credit: Karen England.
Anne Morrow Lindberg Rose, a frequent parent in Bob Martin's rose hybrids.

One result of that research and reading, is that I noticed while perusing the American Rose, The magazine of the American Rose Society, that the President of the ARS lives in Escondido, CA, not that far from me. That he was also a San Diegan got me thinking that I'd like to interview him (in person, safely of course, if possible) to talk about our commonalities so I sent him a Facebook message and, one thing led to another, culminating in an invitation from Robert "Bob" B. Martin Jr. to meet in his rose garden. So, while masked and keeping a safe distance outside, I recently toured his beautiful garden and talked with him at length about gardening in this great area that we all call home and during these unprecedented times.

Photo credit: Bob Martin.
Escondido resident Bob Martin, President of the American Rose Society.
"It’s nice to have occasional visitors to share the garden with, even with some distancing and masks." - Bob Martin

When we met, I asked Bob for presidential advice having myself been newly appointed as our SDHS president but he had none for me, saying I was tackling the two hardest jobs in any group, president and newsletter editor, and his advice would have been "don't do it!" Oh well, too late now. He did have lots of advice for me with regard to gardening with roses in San Diego, (he has 600, I only have 60) and I learned a lot, even though we couldn't be more different in our ultimate purposes. My purpose is to grow fragrant roses organically for food and drink, as well as, to use in making homemade body care products and his purpose is to show roses competitively, also for floral design and to hybridize them. Our differences, in a nutshell, are that "while he arranges his roses, I eat mine."

Meet Bob Martin, President of the American Rose Society -

Bob Martin started as the newsletter editor of the Pasadena Rose Society circa 1987 and was editor for more than eight years. In 1997 he became editor of the Rose Exhibitor’s Forum, a quarterly newsletter of the American Rose Society. He did that job, on and off, for more than 16 years and it eventually became the basis of his book, "Showing Good Roses” published 2001. (Amazon has some copies of his book still available, although it is currently out of print.) In the years since, he continues writing a monthly article for the newsletters of the San Diego Rose Society and the Pacific Rose Society.

He also continued as National Editor of Horizon Roses, an annual publication that compiles comments from rose exhibitors throughout the country on the show potential of the newest roses and he is, in fact, working on the 2020 edition now.

Along the way he has worked with the American Rose magazine, having served on its editorial advisory committee from 1995-2000 and as a contributor. In fact, (excluding many President messages) he has contributed since 1988 a total of 56 articles to the Magazine, and has been published 13 times in the American Rose Annual, the most of any author in ARS history. 

When Bob is not in his garden or writing about roses, he practices law out of his house (that is before being currently holed up at home for the duration of the pandemic). Like the SDHS, all ARS in-person rose society events for the year have been cancelled and the ARS has also turned to remote meetings and webinars to keep in touch and to carry out their mission.

It is summertime in Bob's rose garden which is, in his words, "in pretty good shape for July"! Having seen it in person myself, I wholeheartedly agree. He told me "the spring bloom was wonderful and he expects the fall one to be special as well". This calls to mind Richard Sheridan's famous quote -

"Won't you come into the garden? I would like my roses to see you."

Photo credit: Karen England.
Award winning 'Butter Cream', a true miniflora rose, bred by Bob Martin and growing in his Escondido, CA garden, July 2020.

Here are just some of the roses in bloom recently in Bob and his wife's garden when I was there. Bob’s favorite rose color is yellow and there is a yellow miniature rose named for him. Many of his hybrids are yellow and many use Anne Morrow Lindberg as a rose parent. Bob only has eyes for roses and grows nothing else with the exception of Dahlias. Because his wife loves “Dinnerplate (really huge) Dahlias, he grows some for her. Can you find it in the photo collage?

I went straight home from my meeting and tour and ordered a new hose-end nozzle just like the one Bob uses. Bob uses a number 4, "Heavy Volume", Fogg-it nozzle, available online. It is one of his secrets to his success and he demonstrated it for me. I never knew there were 4 kinds of Fogg-it spray nozzles, I missed that memo, I thought they were only gentle misters. Fogg-it Number 4 is the strongest spray they make, strong enough to combat naturally any number of rose pests and diseases without damaging the leaves or flowers as Bob's award-winning garden roses are proof.

You can visit the . . .

. . . San Diego Rose Society here -

. . . Pacific Rose Society here -

. . . American Rose Society here -

Photo Credit:
Karen England, Newsletter Editor and President, San Diego Horticultural Society.

Karen England grew up working for her cousin’s family plant nursery in Encinitas, California, called Sunshine Gardens, but, as a 12 year old kid, she never enjoyed the plants. That is, not until she got married, at the age of 30, and started to learn to cook and garden for herself. While making spaghetti sauce she had an epiphany and, the next day at work, she purchased the herb plants called for in the recipe and went home and planted them. Although she planted them "all wrong" - squashed together like canned sardines in the shade, the herbs adjusted to their surroundings and grew! Better than that, they tasted good! That experience 30 years ago changed Karen's life, sending her on an herbal journey of discovery and made her finally happy to work in such a wonderful family business and industry.

Karen is a graduate of Biola University. She also has taken 3 intensive culinary courses, studying under Darina Allen at the world famous Ballymaloe Cookery School in County Cork, Ireland.

She was "chef in residence" at the Lavender Fields of Valley Center for many years, teaching people from all over the world the delicious flavors of lavender, as well as, being a popular garden speaker in the Southern California region specializing in growing and eating all sorts of herbs but especially lavender, roses and scented geraniums.

Currently Karen is the President and Editor-in-Chief for the San Diego Horticultural Society’s Newsletter, Let's Talk Plants! when she and a business partner aren’t working on launching a Cocktail Bitters Company that will utilize all the herbs she grows.

She is a past president and current member of the Vista Garden Club, she was on the board of the International Herb Association and has contributed to various of the IHA's Herb of the Year books.

She can be found on Instagram @edgehillherbfarm - give her a follow!


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