Calif. ó Anyone who loves roses owes Tom Carruth a
bouquet of thanks.
only did he have a hand in making many favorite flowers,
he has helped shape public gardens and how visitors
learn through sensual delights. His handiwork can be
seen (and smelled) throughout the nation.
No. 1 question people always ask in a rose garden: Where
are the fragrant roses?" said Carruth, who is
working on the garden of a lifetime. "So the
varieties I chose for replacements are oozing with
an eye (and nose) for what excites gardeners, Carruth
offers advice that can be adapted to any space.
as a hybridizer, Carruth created many of the
best-selling rose varieties grown today. Heís credited
with introducing more than 100 varieties, including 11
All-America Rose Selections (AARS). Among his all-star
catalog of roses are Scentimental, Cinco de Mayo, Hot
Cocoa, Wild Blue Yonder, Strike It Rich and Betty Boop.
will be more new releases ó even though Carruth no
longer works at Wasco, Calif.-based wholesale grower
Weeks Roses. Keep an eye out for Diamond Eyes (a velvety
black-purple miniature with a distinctive white splash)
and blushing-pink Youíre The One (another miniature
due for 2014 release).
takes eight to 10 years to get a new rose to
market," he said during a recent visit to
Sacramento. "So people think Iím still working as
year, Carruth left Weeks Roses to tackle one of the most
famous rose gardens in the country: the Huntington
Libraryís rose collection in San Marino, Calif.
Carruth took over as curator of the Huntingtonís
3-acre rose garden with more than 4,000 bushes.
planted in 1908, the Huntington rose garden was long on
history, but also in need of some intense editing. Some
climbers had not been pruned in more than a decade.
Other rare bushes had almost withered away.
things were in terrible shape," he said. "The
roses were holding up the trellises. When we pruned, we
found there was no trellis left."
arbor proved a major pain ó literally. It was covered
with the old-time climber Mermaid, a variety that has
"fish-hook thorns that really dig in," Carruth
seen one Mermaid take over and kill a 30-foot
tree," he said. "Ö Mermaid had formed a
4-foot-thick thatch on top (of this arbor). When we
started pruning, we discovered it wasnít one bush, but
30 ó and they hadnít been pruned in years!"
wicked thorns had scared away less-intrepid gardeners,
and Carruth knew it would be a continuing battle. So he
replaced Mermaid with a friendlier alternative, Renae.
Besides being almost thornless, this free-flowering pink
climber is very fragrant ó just what people want.
intensely fragrant roses that Carruth used liberally
include Julie Newmar (a very tall ruffled amber yellow
hybrid tea with pink accents), dusky mauve Memorial Day
(another tea), the old-fashioned Colette (a pink
Romantica) and Eyes For You (a pale pink Hulthemia with
a purple eye).
had planned to make changes slowly, but Mother Nature
sped up his timetable. A massive windstorm struck the
Huntington gardens last year.
winds knocked down 400 trees," he said. "There
was unbelievable carnage on the garden, but on the
bright side, weíve got mulch for years, and it opened
up vistas that hadnít been seen in 80 years."
mulch comes in handy with so many roses. As a water
saver, it also helps the gardenís new drip irrigation
work more efficiently.
irrigation system was based on 1930 technology," he
added. "Weíre updating that to 2013 technology
where itís programmed by my iPhone."
add more interest to the rose garden, Carruthís crew
planted thousands of bulbs under the bushes: freesias
(that smell as sweet as they look) and reblooming
irises, sparaxis, ixia and daffodils.
help soften the squareness of the rose garden, and they
bloom when the roses donít," he said.
"Freesias are so easy to grow and look so natural.
The repeat-blooming iris will bloom five or six times a
STORY CAN END HERE)
also played a large part in the recent restoration of
the McKinley Park Memorial Rose Garden in Sacramento.
"The last time I saw it, it was still a work in
progress," Carruth said. "But now, itís just
he was with Weeks Roses, Carruth helped McKinley Park
garden volunteers get new bushes (either through
donation or deep discounts) for the garden makeover,
coordinated by Ellie Longanecker. Originally planted 84
years ago, the McKinley Park rose garden now has about
1,150 healthy bushes. New favorites such as the buttery
yellow Julia Child (another AARS winner developed by
Carruth) mix with old standards such as Iceberg.
noted how well all the roses looked so late in the
growing season. In early November, the 1.5-acre garden
was still full of flowers. New perennial beds along the
edges of the garden attract beneficial insects and add
to the gardenís year-round beauty.
is once again a place where people can learn about
flowers and maybe find a new favorite ó if they take
time to smell the roses.
the complete package," Carruth said of McKinley.
"Iím really, really pleased with how itís
turned out. Itís wonderful to see."