Everything's coming up roses | January 30, 2009 | Danville Express | DanvilleSanRamon.com |


Danville Express

Living - January 30, 2009

Everything's coming up roses

Rose photographer is February guest at library speaker series

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

A rose is a rose is a rose. And if you want to know more than that, Carolyn Parker is your woman.

The Friends of the Danville Library will present Parker as the next guest in its quarterly Evening Speaker Series, on Wednesday, Feb. 4, at the Danville Community Center.

"January is a bleak time, weather-wise, which prompted me to think about gardening," said John Keenan, who arranged for the speaker. "She's about making gardens prettier."

"I think Danville is a pretty gardening-rich community," he added.

He discovered Parker on Mother's Day when he heard that she was opening up her personal rose garden at her home in Lafayette to the public.

"It's a knockout," he said. "There are roses everywhere."

Parker grows roses, arranges roses, photographs roses, and writes about roses.

"My passion for roses found expression when my identity changed from New York fashion designer to suburban gardener," she says on her Web site, www.rosesfromatoz.com. "Roses became my teacher, confidant, photographic muses, and talespinner."

She sold her first book, "The Poetry of Roses," to New York publishers the way she had formerly shown her fashion collection to buyers, she says. While promoting that book, she was trying to figure out a format for another book and, she recalls, "In the meantime, I became a garden designer."

Her latest book is "R is for Rose: Reflections from a Passionate Rose Lover," published by North Light Books, and she will be showing these slides at the presentation and talking about how she came to create the book.

"One day, it was very early spring and I was out in the garden and I was admiring this particular rose that goes over an archway," she recalled last week. "This idea zoomed though my head: I could make an 'R' for the rose, and could use it to make decorative type."

She fashioned the R, about 10 inches high, and realized it didn't just stand for rose but for that particular variety, Rouletii. She then realized she could create all 26 letters, using roses beginning with them, and make a book.

"In my book I talk about the rose in the garden and show it in lovely arrangements," she said. "There are so many different things you can do with them."

The project took her about eight years, she said, and the coffee-table-sized book was published in 2006.

"I have about 250 varieties on my lovely corner lot," she said. "I'm very fortunate to be able to have roses outside my door to take all the pictures I want."

She also photographs her arrangements to create rose calendars.

She didn't have a garden as a child growing up in Oregon.

"My neighbors had gardens, and I always wanted one," she said.

When she and her husband, artist Leroy Parker, were first married they rented a small house in El Cerrito that had a garden full of roses.

"Then for awhile we lived in the city, in Oakland," she said. "We would escape the city environment to the botanical garden at UC and the Berkeley Rose Garden."

Now she has about a third of an acre to indulge her love of roses.

"Roses are crammed in all around the edge and around the house," she said. "There is a color theme garden, and a big deer fence."

Keenan is sure everyone will enjoy hearing Parker speak and seeing her spectacular photographs.

"She's amazing," he said. "I think it will be pretty good."

Keenan began the Evening Speaker Series just last fall after he e-mailed Friends of the Danville Library in September to note that all their programs took place on Wednesday mornings while he was at work. The organizers liked the idea of evening programs and, first thing Keenan knew, he was in charge.

"I went from inquiring about it to running it," he said with a laugh.

He launched the series in November with speaker Scott Moran, director of project management for the new California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, who was a big hit.

Now Keenan is negotiating with an economist to speak at the next event.

"He really likes to talk about the need to drive everything forward with innovation - both green and economics," said Keenan.

"I've got to get topics that are general in nature," he explained.

Although roses are dormant right now, Keenan said, rose season is just around the corner and soon nurseries will begin to offer them and host pruning seminars. To kick off the season, he urges everyone to show up at 7 p.m. Wednesday evening to hear passionate rose lover Carolyn Parker.

Rose lover tells all

What: 'R is for Rose: Reflections from a Passionate Rose Lover'

Who: Carolyn Parker, author and photographer

Where: Danville Community Center, 420 Front St.

When: 7 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 4

Cost: Free

Presented by: Friends of the Danville Library

Sponsors: Town of Danville; Kiwanis of San Ramon Valley

More information: www.rosesfromatoz.com