The Conservation of Roses

My oncologist refused to give me chemo. He said I was too fragile. This wasn’t what I wanted to hear.

I was trying to convince myself that I wasn’t fragile when Teddie pointed out that we hadn’t been taking our twice daily walks to the gate. My fifteen minutes each day of walking in the house, which I had replaced the outside walks with, had fallen to 5 minutes. I resolved to build my strength by increasing my daily walks, eventually walking down to the gate again. Once I do this, I will be strong enough for chemo.

Ramblers on the north fence

When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I was absorbed in the collecting and conserving rare roses. My dear Max left me in 2010, and I was once again a widow. My collection of roses offered comfort. They were a reminder of the beauty of life, the role of memories and being remembered, and the importance of moving forward with something meaningful. My intent to save rare Ramblers became even more purposeful. I continued my travels to gardens around the world seeking out early American hybrids long lost to commerce in the US and brought them home. I also imported several others from areas not yet closed to importation and expanded my quarantine area to accommodate these history filled vessels of unique genetic material. My goal was to make all of the rare roses as common as possible to assure their survival. I follow, and my family will follow, a rose conservation plan of 3, 3, 30 in which you place every rare rose in 3 commercial nurseries, 3 public gardens, and 30 private gardens. I kept detailed notes where these roses were placed so that there were always back ups if they failed.

One of the places that accepted my offer of roses was the Chambersville Tree Farm in Texas, championed by Claude Graves. I sent cuttings of the Ramblers I had at that time to Dr. Malcolm Manners at Florida Southern College to propagate for the rose garden in Chambersville. In 2014, they invited me to give a presentation at the dedication of the new Anne Belovich Garden. Having a garden in my name was certainly an honor but I was very pleased to know that my Rambler collection had a duplicate set growing in another part of the United States. Toward the end of my first chemotherapy round in 2016, I had my son, Rick, and grandson, Steven, take cuttings from my last imports coming out of quarantine and then take the plants to Chambersville.

This past winter Texas experienced unusually cold temperatures. I was worried about the roses but Claude informed me that he had been diligent in his care and only lost a few. We should be able to replace those with plants here eventually. A few weeks later he gave me the wonderful news that the American Rose Center Committee in Shreveport voted to replicate my collection of roses at Chambersville for a new rose garden at the American Rose Society Headquarters in Shreveport. Claude also made sure that members of the Dallas Area Historical Rose Society who visited Chambersville last summer received cuttings of the most endangered roses in my collection. Claude is well on his way to meeting the goal of the 3, 3, 30 rose conservation plan.

To save the rare roses we need to give them away. The Chambersville story demonstrates this, from one duplication to several and a growing network of replacements.

You will also find my roses in commerce and in backyards. For a while I opened my private gardens to the public, by appointment, so that people could get cuttings and plant them. I understand that not all people would want or be able to invite people to their homes, but giving cuttings to family and close friends still helps save the roses and perhaps strengthen relationships. I have had to close my gardens to the public because of my illness, but hope to open again next year if I am feeling better. Rick and Teddie tell me that we need to do some maintenance before this happens.

I have many friends who have worked to save roses by volunteering their time in each other’s yards or at heritage rose sites. Some have been involved in importing these rare gems. It is important that we make sure that we have a plan in place for when we are no longer able to take care of our gardens.

11 thoughts on “The Conservation of Roses

  1. I so enjoy your notes and love what you are doing to save your beloved roses.
    I have a small rose garden (just under 100) of different varieties in zone 5b in Ontario Canada and am almost finished writing my book on clarifying rose pruning from mystery to mastery with my own sketches – I answer dozens of questions daily on not just how to prune, but also, why.

    In Burlington Ontario, The Royal Botanical Gardens has a new rose garden designed by Peter Beales… wouldn’t it be lovely to have your roses – or a rose- in their garden (or, mine… ) but they are experts, and I learn by loving them, watching and caring for them… still a novice after only 12 years… you are an incredible inspiration and I look forward to hearing more. Thank you from my heart.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Stay in touch. If you are out in the PNW or in Indiana it will be much easier, but we can still figure out a way to do this. It’s so very important to have people all over the US growing them.


  2. I am reading about Graham Stuart Thomas who collected rare, French roses from Europe and America before and after the WWII. It was his collection that was planted at Mottisfont Abbey, UK and over 100 other National Trust gardens i the UK. very inspiring, and Anne was right that you have to give the roses away to ‘keep’ them.

    Margaret Nelson

    On Wed, Apr 6, 2022 at 1:08 PM Anne Belovich’s Roses of Yesteryear wrote:

    > annebelovich posted: ” My oncologist refused to give me chemo. He said I > was too fragile. This wasn’t what I wanted to hear. I was trying to > convince myself that I wasn’t fragile when Teddie pointed out that we > hadn’t been taking our twice daily walks to the gate. My f” >

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Just learning of Anne’s legacy through Erin at FloretFlowers. Found myself here enjoying her lovely blog.
    If you are still doing the 30 private gardens, I would love to be included and help with the efforts. Located in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

    So lovely to have stumbled on this conservation work! 💕 What an act of love!


    1. Oh Jessica. This is wonderful to hear. Actually, we are going to try to do even more than 30 gardens and hope to get them in every possible part of the country (within their climate restrictions). We are still trying to figure out how we can do this, so stay tuned and remind me that you want to help when we are able to start. Right now we are restoring the gardens so rose lovers from around the world can visit. (And, if you have the opportunity, the American Rose Society will have a lovely Anne Belovich Rambler garden soon. Still quite a trip for you but closer. Please let us know if you plan to come out to the Pacific Northwest!


  4. I have such a deep love for historic roses and most of my collection of 200 or so are old. I’d love to be a part of preserving them here in northern MI! I’ve been propagating for a couple of years now and would be thrilled to be able to share them with others. Thank you for keeping this work going!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Lisa. Do you live in the UP or northern Lower Michigan? I’m from Kalamazoo and lived in Big Bay and Marquette for quite a while. I would love to know what you are growing.


      1. Hi Teddie, I’m in Northern Lower, in the Traverse City area but have family in Marquette! What a neat coincidence that you’re from here too 🙂
        I have mostly shrubs vs climber’s or ramblers. Even though I’m in zone 5 I like roses that are zone 4 and under simply because dieback here (with modern roses anyway) can be pretty significant. I’ve found that the albas, damasks, gallicas and centifolias all do great. Hybrid perpetuals are hit or miss. As for the modern roses I’d say the majority are Kordes, Bucks and of course David Austin. The Generous Gardener, The Lark Ascending, Gentle Hermione and the Alnwick have all done really well. The ramblers I have are Lady Godiva, Veilchenblau, Peggy Martin, Seven Sisters, Darlows Enigma, Paul’s Himalayan Musk, Ghislaine De Féligonde and Paul Transon. I probably forgot a couple but I really enjoy them!
        I have 2 acres to fill and I’m planning on doing that with native plants and of course, roses ☺️


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