The ROSA National Convention had been in the planning stages for over a year with Joy Webb of the Western Cape Rose Society (WCRS) and her committee committing to the smooth running and preparation of the weekend. At last the 25th October dawned and the Convention was underway.
Ruslamere Hotel and Convention Centre was very hospitable and helpful when I checked in and I was allocated a very comfortable and spacey room. Because of the late arrival of the flight from Johannesburg, I went straight into the ROSA special meeting, which was actually just concluding, and then into the ROSA AGM. There were not that many society members present at the AGM. Sadly this is always the case. However a sizeable number from Gold Reef Rose Society (GRRS), Heritage Rose Society of SA (HRSSA) and Midlands Rose Society (MRS) were present. Having got the legal stuff dealt with, and receiving a very interesting report from the President, Gail Birss, the nominations for incoming President were shared with the delegates. Barbara Wood (GRRS) was elected as the ROSA President 2018-2020.
Following the AGM, the ROSA Council met and the following positions were discussed and confirmed:
Vice President – Lizette Jonker (Pretoria Rose Society – PRS)
Secretary – Gail Birss (MRS)
Treasurer – Elizabeth Thornton-Dibb (MRS/GRRS)
Council members – Gill Wilson representing MRS, Sheenagh Harris representing Knysna Rose Society (KRS), Jackie Kalley, in her absence, will represent the HRSSA and Vivienne Black, vice president for Africa, attends council meetings but does not qualify to vote. I would like to mention that ALL council members are also members of HRSSA.
The HRSSA AGM followed and Sheenagh Harris presented the report for the Society on behalf of Rae Gilbert. Kim Van Niekerk from Bedford shared some recent happenings and events that have taken place. Jackie Kalley was nominated and accepted as the incoming Chairman of HRSSA.
At 18h00 a delightful cocktail party took place in the convention room with a cash bar and plentiful snacks. Pietman Diener from Rustenberg Manor Garden addressed us on “Heritage Roses in Old Cape Gardens and the education of a gardener.” A humorous and interesting address.
And so the first day was completed.
Joy had warned us that we had to leave from Durbanville Rose Gardens promptly at 8h30 on Friday morning. We dutifully turned up and the bus set off for Avondale Garden in Durbanville. The garden belongs to Ronelle Shuttleworth but we were met by her landscaper and gardener, Chris. An interesting tour of the garden to the orchid house, a “kopje” constructed out of the soil removed when the pool was being dug and now planted up with indigenous plants and succulents, a lovely rose garden where “Walter Sisulu” was blooming beautifully and then back to the bus for our next stop. Babylonstoren. Most of us knew Babylonstoren but were more than delighted to visit this amazing place again. On approximately 8 acres it has something new and exciting to present every time you visit. We were treated to a coffee or tea compliments of Babylonstoren. Then it was onto lunch at “Lust” at Vrede and Lust Estate. A light lunch of quiche and salad and for some of us, a refreshing glass of chilled wine. We did not have much time to explore Vrede And Lust but it is nice to have something to look forward to on our next venture into the Cape.
The last garden of the day was Muldersvlei Estate. A glass of bubbly greeted us together with the “bubbly” owner, Helen Starke. Chris Bellingen, a WCRS member, was on hand to show us the 200 roses in pots that he has grown. These are used for the decor at the many functions that are held at Muldersvlei. And then an amazing tea/coffee on the lawns with smoked salmon and cucumber sandwiches and freshly baked cream scones.
Back to Durbanville to retire home or to our respective lodgings.
Saturday morning we were again on the bus at 8h00 and travelling to the Jonkershoek Valley in the Stellenbosch district to visit “Lingen”. This is home to another WCRS member, Coreen Krige and her husband. The rose garden was established by Coreen about 15 years ago. The roses are grouped according to colours and the “Roberto Capucci”, “Avril Elizabeth Home”, “Forever Friends” to name but a few were exquisite. Coreen and her husband had prepared a delicious tea/coffee/juice with homemade shortbread of various flavours which was enjoyed by the Convention delegates.
Rustenberg Manor House was the next stop. This garden in Stellenbosch dates from the 1700’s. There are over 200 different varieties of heritage roses to which they are constantly adding. The roses growing in some of the trees were delightful. Again tea/coffee or a juice with a cream scone was available for the delegates. This is a very large garden with different vistas opening up around every corner and one really needs a whole day to explore and see this garden.
Our last visit was to Languedoc Farm, Firgrove. This proved to be a challenge to find but eventually we were met by the owners Nicky and Martin Geberts and introduced to their lovely garden. It was an extremely hot day and the garden was desperately in need of some rain but again a lovely older, private garden. We enjoyed a pizza at Henri’s Restaurant in Somerset West and then back to Durbanville to tidy up for the banquet later that evening.
Klein Joostenberg was the venue for the dinner. There were approximately 60 people attending and Cobus Coetzee addressed us on “International Rose Industries with special emphasis on the South African Market.” An enlightening talk. Nan Steyn was presented with the literary award which she won for her book “ROSES The Seasonal Guide to Growing Roses in South Africa.” This award is presented by the World Federation and was announced at the World Convention in Copenhagen in July. Two other awards were presented:
- The President’s Award. Decided on by the ROSA President. This went to Sheenagh Harris.
- The Zoë Gilbert Award. Decided on by nominations from the various rose societies and finalised by ROSA Council. This went to Gail Birss.
The flowers, the food, the venue and the ambience were a very special way to close the ROSA National Convention – 2018.
I would like to express my thanks and I am sure I speak for everyone that attended this convention, to Joy Webb and her committee for all the hard work and preparation they put into this very successful weekend. Joy, the little things that you included in the goodie bags (especially the recipes for different rose products), to the delightful cards, calendars, prints etc that were on sale and also for the lovely bags holding all this paraphernalia made by one of the WCRS members, we salute you. Thank you for hosting us and growing our LOVE OF THE ROSE.