What's in a Rose Name? The Food + Hybrid Tea Varietals (Whiskey, Too) + Planning Your Own Rose Cocktail Garden

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Thu, Apr 19, 2012 at 9:00 AM
click to enlarge Salsa rose at the Huntington Rose Garden - JGARBEE
  • jgarbee
  • Salsa rose at the Huntington Rose Garden

Wander around any formal rose garden with name plaques this time of year (the Huntington, Palisades Park in Santa Monica), and you'll likely bump into several Hollywood celebrity stunners like Marilyn Monroe (a tall apricot flower with "large bloom size," per the official description). In the rose-naming game, food- and drink-related names are a close second to celebrities, for the same anthropomorphic reasons.

"Berries and Cream" is a striped rose, "Hot Chocolate" is a brown rose and the Glenfiddich whiskey rose is amber-colored (our favorite new gift for dry friends with a sense of humor). There's even an entire Hybrid Tea classification, the most common modern rose varietal. Why all the food and drink fuss?

Turn the page for more from Marcia Sanchez-Walsh of the Los Angeles Rose Society on naming roses, how to get your food favorites officially registered as a rose varietal (the Dodger Dog, the Ludo), and the best local nursery for sourcing those floral whiskey and chocolate varietals.

"'Coming up' with a new rose happens two ways," says Sanchez-Walsh. "Either you find a 'sport' growing on a rose you already grow in your yard. A sport is a mutation of a rose and happens occasionally, naturally, when a different color bloom starts growing on a cane, and you then 'root' that stem and start a new plant from that sport. You can then register and name that rose."

click to enlarge Cherry Vanilla hybrid tea varietal - JGARBEE
  • jgarbee
  • Cherry Vanilla hybrid tea varietal

Or, continues Sanchez-Walsh, you take the easy route and ask someone to do the new rose varietal creating for you: "The more likely way a new rose comes into being is by hybridizing a new rose by using the stamens and seeds from different roses to create a new rose. There are a handful of large rose hybridizers in the world."

For those who are keen on brushing up on the existing White Licorice and other food varietals, she suggests checking out the American Rose Society's Handbook for Selecting Roses, a yearly publication that lists the current roses in circulation ("tens of thousands," says Sanchez-Walsh). Should you prefer to start your own backyard rose cocktail, candy or -- why not? -- an entire five-course dinner garden, Sanchez-Walsh recommends San Gabriel Nursery, which she says has one of the best selections of roses in SoCal, plus a knowledgeable staff. In other words, they can help you decide whether a Hot Chocolate varietal is really the best thing to plant in L.A.

Or if you're not quite ready to commit to a rose name yet -- after all, food trends come and go quickly, so you want a taco truck with rose garden staying power -- Sanchez-Walsh suggests hitting the annual Los Angeles Rose Show, a rose exhibit and competition highlighting our finest local growers. This year it will be at the Descanso Gardens on Oct. 20. Plenty of time to come up with some great new rose names.

Follow Squid Ink at @LAWeeklyFood and check out our Facebook page. Find more from the author @eathistory + eathistory.com.

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