Saturday, May 28, 2011

OOPS!!! Too cold for roses in Portland...

Roses are a no-show for Portland Rose Festival

"A rose! Ah, ha, ha!" whooped Hillary Joseph, bending over to inspect a button of orange, the only color bobbing in an aggressive sea of green at the International Rose Test Garden at Washington Park, where the great majority of approximately 8,500 roses are certain to be a no-show for the Portland Rose Festival.

Thomas Wickboldt, Joseph's friend from San Francisco, was good-natured about missing Portland's iconic flower. "Since it's the City of Roses, it would be nice to see the roses. But it's not that big of a deal."

The wishy-washy sun of spring has been unkind to the warm-blooded plants. A season of record rainfall and well-below average high temperatures make 2011 the latest-blooming rose season in memory. Only six days rose above 60 degrees; on average, there are 26.

"The weather is crazy," says Gretchen Humphrey, drawing out the word like pulling a piece of taffy. As chair of the Portland Rose Society Show, she's holding out hope for a warm spell to get the pouting roses to cooperate. But the forecast of continued cool and rainy days makes the chances of that happening extremely unlikely.

"If we had decent weather of 70 to 80 for at least 10 days, we'd be in great shape, says Harry Landers, curator of the International Rose Test Garden, where the roses have not been this late since he started keeping track 22 years ago.

Regular show competitors, such as John Sitton of Albany, are disappointed.

"I don't remember a later growing season when it comes to roses. This is the latest -- by far," says Sitton, who started his garden 28 years ago and now has 300 roses. "I'm really worried about the Portland show. I love to compete. My goal is to win the big queen award, but I don't believe I will have anything to show."


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