Asheville-Blue Ridge Rose Society hosts its annual exhibition

SHOWSTOPPERS: Visitors stop to smell the roses at a past Asheville-Blue Ridge Rose Society Exhibition. This year's exhibition takes place May 25-26 at the N.C. Arboretum. Photo courtesy of Jeff Wray

Rosarians, as those who cultivate roses sometimes refer to themselves, take pride in promoting the flower, says Jeff Wray, president of the Asheville-Blue Ridge Rose Society. Accordingly, the nonprofit educational organization will hold its annual exhibition Saturday and Sunday, May 25-26, at the N.C. Arboretum.

Committed to cultivating roses as well as a sense of community, the society assists members and the public in the pursuit of rose knowledge in all forms. The exhibition, which Wray says has been held for more than 20 years, will feature up to 200 award-winning roses of many varieties (in keeping with the society’s noncompetitive spirit, the exhibition will not be judged) along with educational programming throughout the weekend. Experts will also be available to answer questions and provide tips about the selection, care and history of the plants.

In addition to “the popular long-stemmed hybrid tea roses that slowly unfurl,” says Wray, exhibition attendees will find many specimens of the increasingly prized mini-flora. Larger than miniature roses but smaller than floribunda (a cross between a hybrid tea rose and a polyantha rose), mini-flora are known to be easy to maintain.

But Wray notes that roses, in general, are less fussy than many people assume. “Because they look so good, people think they must be hard to grow,” he says. “They need water and sun, and it helps to feed them once in a while.” But otherwise, he insists, there’s no need to feel intimidated. To help dispel this myth, one of the exhibition’s lectures will be Roses 101, which will address the basics for getting started with rose cultivation.

Arboretum public relations manager Whitney Smith notes that after the exhibition wraps up on Sunday, May 26, the arboretum will host a rose petal mandala workshop 4-6 p.m. The ticketed event, led by Melissa Thomas of Flora living boutique in West Asheville, is part of the arboretum’s Crafty Hour monthly social series. Participants will use upcycled rose petals from the exhibition to create botanical works of art.

The event will include instruction, free beer or wine, light appetizers, materials and full-day access to the arboretum. Tickets are $67 for arboretum members, $75 for nonmembers, and must be purchased in advance at ncarboretum.org.

WHAT: Asheville-Blue Ridge Rose Society Exhibition
WHERE: N.C. Arboretum, Education Center, 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way. ncarboretum.org and wncroses.com
WHEN: 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday, May 25, and 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Sunday, May 26. Admission to the arboretum and the exhibition are free, but there’s a parking fee of $14 per vehicle.

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