Apply by May 26 to enter garden in annual competition

COURTESY: ROYAL ROSARIANS - The Royal Rosarians are starting the 79th Royal Rosarian Rose Garden Contest, and hoping for many displays such as the 2016 Helping Hands winner pictured here.If the Royal Rosarians had their way, there'd be roses in the yards of every home in Portland. And not hidden in the backyard or side of the house, but visible from the street.

Each year they promote this agenda by hosting their annual Royal Rosarian Rose Garden Contest, in its 79th year this year. Established in 1938, the contest was the first citywide event to honor the rose, which they call the "queen of flowers."

"We're really trying to bend over backwards to make it easy for people to participate," says Connie Shipley, who's on the garden contest committee. They're now accepting applications through May 26. Judging will occur June 4, during Rose Festival, with the awards ceremony to be held June 20.

Folks who participate only need to have a garden of at least 12 roses located within 20 miles of downtown's Pioneer Courthouse Square. However, those who enter and are disabled may have a garden of roses with fewer than 12.

Typically the contest sees about 40 entrants — but this year, Royal Rosarians are aiming high. They want to see 100 people enter the contest.

"Visitors come to Portland and see a lot of roses in people's yards. It's nice," Shipley says. "(What) we're really promoting is having them visible from the street. We want everyone to see them."

She will be participating in the contest for the first time this year, but also likely will judge the contest, too.

She has some suggestions for winning, including making sure to rid bushes of any drooping rosebuds, brown spots or "dead heads."

There are 20 teams of judges who go out to all the neighborhoods to look at the gardens.

E. David Granum, recently retired, has been helping judge the contest since 1985, and has participated at least a dozen times. His title within the Royal Rosarians is the Royal Gardener.

"I just enjoy the beauty of the gardens," he says. "It's nice to see other people's gardens and get ideas about what would make a nice garden."

Official judge's criteria includes:

• Design and layout of the roses (15 points)

• Soil condition (15 points)

• Pruning (15 points)

• Maintenance (30 points), more specifically grooming (10 points), disease control (10 points), insect control (10 points)

• Vigor (15 points)

But that's of course, if the roses are in bloom yet at all.

"We've had years where it was so late, there were no roses blooming yet, but we would judge on the plants, how well they were groomed," Shipley says. "Honestly, if you see a rose bush and you see the leaves are nice and green, you can tell it's a good plant."

Granum adds that the contest "brings people together."

"Well it's a great collegiality among neighbors ... so that they enjoy sharing the duty of garden."

To find out more, or access the application to enter the contest, visit

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