• Long Beach Breeze

Heritage Rose Festival cancelled, but rose opportunities remain

Carla Harbin was disappointed to cancel the Heritage Rose Festival, what she and the rest of the Gulf Coast Heritage Rose Society were hoping would be the first of many to be held at the Long Beach Town Green. The event, like so many others, was called off due to COVID-19, but Harbin, the society president, said she anticipates holding the event in the fall or spring.



The cancellation of anticipated events has caused disappointment for many people, and spending so much time at home can become monotonous and could even lead to feelings of isolation and depression. Before the weather got very hot, many people opted to spend the long days outside. As milder temperatures come back with the fall, it may be a good time for people to consider sprucing up their outdoor living areas. Harbin highly recommends considering the antique rose to do so.


“September and October are a great time to plant these roses so that they bloom beautifully in the spring,” she said, adding that her backyard is full of them. “The good old garden rose has stunning, beautiful blooms and they smell the way a rose is supposed to smell.”


She said that though modern roses – hybrid roses that have been bred since 1867 – have a larger variety of colors, they aren’t as fragrant as the heritage rose and the blooms aren’t as big. Harbin said she enjoys the sights and smells of the flowers, the presence of hummingbirds, butterflies and bees that they attract, but she also enjoys thinking about the history behind them.


Heritage roses are considered the purebred original roses that were brought to America in the 1700s.

“They were cultivated, some in France, some in China, since time immortal,” Harbin said.

She said she orders her heritage roses from Texas and Florida, because they are more hot-weather hardy, but they can be ordered from all over the country. Some of hers she ordered online from antiqueroseemporium.com, and she said they are delivered at the right time to plant. She said there is one nursery in Mississippi where they can be purchased, K & M Nursery in Buckatunna.

The roses are pretty easy to take care of, she said. Once you receive them, you get them in the ground or in a pot, water them well, and make sure they get plenty of sunlight.



“Last year, I had them all winter because it was warm,” she said. “Just the right amount of water and fertilizer, and you can have blooms all year long.”

Harbin is a volunteer gardener at Beauvoir, where the only public heritage rose garden on the Coast can be found. According to the City of Biloxi Web site, the garden is a recreation of that which used to belong to Varina, Mrs. Jefferson Davis. The garden was re-created using notes and sketches Varina had sent to her daughter. There were some remnants of the original garden that were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, according to the Web site.


Harbin, who works in Long Beach and was a resident for a few years, said the society considered the Town Green because she has participated in festivals that had been well attended and supported by the community. She hopes that the festival, once they are able to hold it, will inspire the planting of antique rose gardens in Long Beach and along the Coast.


Those interested in learning more about the antique rose are encouraged to participate in the Gulf Coast Heritage Rose Society, which meets the fourth Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at the Edgewater Inn meeting room, with masks and social distancing measures.

By Lindy Sholes

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