The Desert Sun – A Rose For A Cause

Specialty Rose Sales to Benefit Art Students.

Written by:

Shirley Brennon

March 25, 2011

They were described by the London Times as “swirls of ice cream,” were received with great enthusiasm at the Chelsea Flower Show, and Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles grow them in their gardens. I’m referring to Caroline Victoria roses, hybrid teas that were just released for sale in the United States and Canada.

Elizabeth Coldicutt, president of the Caroline Victoria Coldicutt Arts Foundation (CVCAF), said, “Queen Elizabeth was given the first bouquet of these roses in 2006 and has planted some at Buckingham Palace. Prince Charles also loved them and ordered several for Highgrove. I have also asked Sen. (Dianne) Feinstein to assist us in getting the rose planted in the White House Rose Garden.”

They may not be in the White House Rose Garden yet, but I hope you will consider buying at least one for your desert garden, as all profits from the sale of this rose in the U.S. will go towards scholarships for student artists at Marywood-Palm Valley School and Idyllwild Arts Academy.

The goal, to fund the scholarships, is a $100,000 endowment for each of the three schools. More than 25 art scholarships have already been awarded.

The CVCAF was established in 2006 with Coldicutt as president and family and friends as directors, but none receive salaries. In addition to the sale of roses, Director Alexandre Renoir, the great-grandson of Pierre-Auguste Renoir, the famous French impressionist, creates paintings and donates them to schools to be used as fundraisers.

This Caroline Victoria rose, a hybrid tea, is being sold to memorialize Caroline Coldicutt, as well as raise funds for art students.

This story actually began in 2004 with the tragic death of Caroline Coldicutt at the age of 17. Her mother, Elizabeth, searched the Internet and found that Harkness, a family-run business since 1879, had a long history of charitable fundraising through the sale of roses. She felt this was the perfect answer, as it was a way to provide additional scholarships for art students as well as memorialize her daughter.

In July 2005 she flew to London, scrutinized a large selection of roses that had been hybridized and field tested for five years, and chose P-31-D, which has now become Caroline Victoria. Proceeds of 30 percent from the sale of roses in Europe are being donated to the Royal Theatrical Fund, a charity founded in 1839 by Charles Dickens and a group of actors.

“Our daughter’s love of all things creative and artistic encompasses the beauty of this rose,” Elizabeth said. “Her passion was fine art and painting, and Thomas, Caroline’s dad, and I felt that we had found the perfect rose to be associated with Caroline’s name.”

Rogue Valley Roses owner and rosarian, Janet Inada, said, “The Caroline Victoria Rose is the most beautiful white rose of its type that I have ever grown.”

Not surprising. It has an impeccable genealogical background, combining the grace of the Audrey Hepburn rose with the fragrant, award-winning New Zealand rose. It is described as being “classic and elegant, with blooms of pure ivory shading to amber-blush in a spiral bud formation, and a lingering perfume suggesting citrus and raspberry with subtle overtones of mint.” It offers season-long repeat flowering and holds highest ratings for hardiness, disease resistance, and fragrance.

This project of scholarships for art students has been built up piece by piece, as Elizabeth started out with the artwork, has now added the roses and it appears that there is no stopping her. She sends the roses out to friends in other states, is planning ways to expand the sale of Caroline Victoria roses to New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and China, and is already thinking about an online arts festival. All roses sold in Canada are being used for scholarships.

“This has not been a fast process, a little like pushing a rock uphill,” she said. “The rose finally arrived in the U.S. in 2008, was quarantined in Weeks Nursery in Wasco and Euro Desert in the high desert for two years and was test grown in Oregon and South Carolina, noting any issues with the environment. Once it was released it takes time to grow enough stock to sell, but we are finally there.”

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