Come drape yourself in roses at Rosalia, a new event, sponsored by Friends of Vintage Roses, on Saturday, May 18. The event is inspired  by an ancient Roman festival of roses that first developed around 200 A.D.

According to Rosalia co-organizer Gregg Lowery, “Rosalia is moment to rejoice in the beauty of flowers at the peak of spring, to adorn yourself and friends in roses as a reminder of our connection to the Earth and to dedicate bouquets of roses to those who have left this life.”

The Friends of Vintage Roses’ mission is to bring attention to the ongoing work of preserving a collection of  thousands of vintage roses curated in a garden in Sebastopol, which is located on the former site of Vintage Gardens in south Sebastopol, just off Gravenstein Highway.

What defines a vintage rose? “I consider any rose older than me to be a vintage rose,” Lowery joked. “But they’re usually defined as roses that haven’t been in commerce for a long time or if they have been it’s been a very limited availability from a few nurseries.”

Rosalia will feature lectures on how to propagate roses and on the efforts in Northern California to discover and preserve old roses from historic sites, such as cemeteries and old farmsteads.

They are also hoping to recreate the ancient Rosalia practice of decorating yourself and your friends with roses. “That’s one of the things we’re doing at this event which is kind of unusual,” Lowery said. 

And, of course, there will be roses available for purchase.

“To inspire our neighbors to grow roses, both old and new, we will stage a large sale of the old and rare roses we have propagated from our collection here,” Lowry said.

“Our mission is to preserve this collection of roses and what we have learned is that simply putting roses into a garden or park does not necessarily preserve them,” he said. “The way that roses actually get preserved is by making sure they move into many different hands.”

The proceeds of the sale will go to support the work of Friends of Vintage Roses, which is working to create a private park that’s open to the public on the site of the old nursery.

When and where: Saturday, May 18 from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Wischemann Hall, 465 Morris St., Sebastopol.

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