There will be no mercy for Lynn Twitchell and her beloved roses this year. When the Gilbert resident arrives at the Mesa-East Valley Rose Society’s 51st annual Rose & Arrangement show Nov. 17 , she will no longer be a novice.
When the Gilbert resident arrives at the Mesa-East Valley Rose Society’s 51st annual Rose & Arrangement show Nov. 17 , she will no longer be a novice.
“It is cutthroat,” says Twitchell, who won several top prizes as a first-time competitor. “This year no one will help me. You can only be a novice once.”
Novice rose growers are encouraged to bring their most beautiful stems to the show and compete for titles such as best arrangement, floribunda or garden rose.
Experienced rosarians are on hand and eager to offer advice to newcomers (although they can’t physically help novices).
“I didn’t know what I was doing,” says Twitchell, who got up at 4:30 a.m. the morning of the competition and selected various roses from her year-old garden.
“They (the rose society) said come at 6 a.m. with a bunch of roses and we will tell you what to do.”
And they did. Twitchell got advice varying from which vase to use to how to get her blossoms to open more (apparently you stick Q-tips between the petals). The results was an impressive slate of first-place finishes.
“When I won last year, they said, 'Welcome to the real world,’ ” says Twitchell, as she proudly displays her ribbons and certificates.
But just how treacherous is this real world of rose competition? In her book “Otherwise Normal People: Inside the Thorny World of Competitive Rose Gardening” (Algonquin Books, $22.95), author Aurelia C. Scott details some of the seemingly insane tactics rosarians use to win, such as placing a shovel next to a bush to encourage the blossoms. According to Scott, rosarians don’t nurture roses for money. They do it because they love roses, and like any parent they want to see their child do well.
“Roses respond so much,” says Twitchell. “They’re almost like people. You give them love and attention and they go, 'I love you mama. I’m going to be pretty.’ ”
Now the retired journalism teacher must have a plan of her own. This year’s theme is Literature and Roses, and many competing rosarians will undoubtedly try to incorporate the theme into their arrangements.
Twitchell will have more varieties of roses to choose from in her repertoire. The garden at her Val Vista Lakes home is in full bloom. Pink, yellow and red splashes of splendid color emanate from bushes of Candy Cane, Mr. Lincoln, Paul McCartney and Hot Princess.
“My whole life here is an experiment,” says Twitchell, who still marvels at how her young garden blooms. “You can’t experiment with kids, but you can experiment with roses. They are so responsive. Anybody can do it.”
While Twitchell may speak to her roses with soft words of encouragement, she vows to remain grounded in her passion for the genus rosa.
“I told my husband if I start to go crazy, put your foot down,” says Twitchell with a smile.
IF YOU GO
What: Mesa-East Valley Rose Society’s 51st annual Rose & Arrangement Show
When: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17
Where: Student Center, Mesa Community College, 1833 W. Southern Ave.
Information: (480) 202-4215