#4: TVRS Hosts a Visit to "An English Country Rose Garden"
From the ARS April, 1992 Magazine: re‑written by Karen Ortega on 3-31-2016
Not many new organizations find buried treasure in the hills west of their new city, but the Temecula Valley Rose Society did! We found a new member, Edie O'Hair, in August, 1990, who just happened to have a garden the likes of which very few have ever seen. Edie O'Hair's garden is a crown jewel, sparkling with gems of many colors.
As a board member and chair of The Temecula Valley Rose Society's Ways and Means Committee, Edie brought up our need to hold a fund‑raiser to cover the costs we had incurred as a first year organization. She offered her garden as the location for the event.
To stage a fund‑raising event, a press coordinator and three or four helpers are needed to tackle all the media angles. Our press secretary, Ed Renner, wrote a fantastic one page press release which we copied and sent out along with pictures and an invitation to come out and photograph the event to newspaper gardening editors, local glossy magazines, and TV Announcers.
Public relations Committee member, Virginia Boos, condensed the information into short, readable notes and sent them to at least 20 radio stations. She also wrote to Huell Houser. But he didn't come. The radio stations read these aloud for the six weeks prior to the event during their public service announcements.
In addition to contacting all the Calendar sections of newspapers, within driving distance of Temecula, we wrote to the editors of every Southern California rose society and garden club. We notified them in time to make it into their newsletters two months in advance of the event. They turned out in in force to come see Edie's spectacular garden.
Get to know your gardening editors. It really pays off!
Board member and editor, Rebecca Weersing, knew we'd need a great descriptive program to pass out at the fund‑raiser. Edie gave her a special tour of the garden, with Rebecca taking notes of Edie's detailed description of plantings and hidden "finds" like certain statues. Rebecca then created a collector's item hot pink program of what to look for in the garden, including a hunt for hidden treasures to make it fun for children who attended.
Claudia Leach, a talented and artistic rose society member, designed a stunning calligraphy poster for us. After reducing it to a copiable 11 x 17 size, we printed hundreds of posters. Our volunteers placed these in store windows, libraries, and Chambers of Commerce all over Southern California.
We further reduced the poster size to 8‑1/2 x 11, printing a map on the back. We sent this out to everyone we could think of in So. California, and this same flyer graced the cover of our delightful program. Our great members volunteered to put our personal home phone numbers on our posters and in press releases so we could answer questions, give directions, and sell pre‑event tickets until our voices gave out.
Richard Hoffman, a local sign maker, made up a dozen directional signs to help lead out‑of‑towners and even locals to Edie's hidden De Luz paradise. Freeway exits were covered, along with cross‑streets.
Next year: Helium balloons will help call attention to our signs.
Prepare for every eventuality! We had a first aid station donated by Sharp Hospital. Our local fire department paramedics were on hand as much of the day as they were free. Price Security guarded our hilly entrance and patrolled our concessions. The Sheriff's Dept. was really fantastic, not only covering the street and parking, as well as accompanying our chief treasury officer down to the bank every two hours throughout the day.
"Watch Your Step" signs were placed throughout the garden, along with other informational signs donated to us (again) by our local sign man, Richard Hoffman. Volunteers worked six to eight weeks prior to the event, cutting deadheads and sprucing up the garden; but nobody worked harder than Edie and her husband, Mel
O'Hair. They had their lovely gazebo and wooden bridge, as well as multiple extra plantings and pathways put in way ahead of their five‑year plan, so the garden would be perfect.
I'm also quite sure that Edie singlehandedly passed out more posters and fliers than any other rose society member. She would also work from dawn until full dark adding annuals and perennials to further enhance the beauty of her garden (and only a few of us knew she was also planning her daughter's wedding at the same time).
What really made the day a huge success was the combination of efforts of the 30 volunteers (about 30% of our membership). We had deadheading parties on certain workdays. We would start as early as 8:30 or 9:30 AM, work until noon, and then lunch would be "catered" poolside by different rose members who liked to cook and bake pastries. Those were delightful parties. We definitely got more work done on party‑free days, but looking forward to those parties kept volunteers coming back often.
I remember one day, just showing up by myself to work in the garden. I always liked working on rainy days. Then the thunder and lightning started, and Edie and I took refuge in the wooden gazebo. She said "Just stay here, Dearest, and I'll bring us something to eat." When the lightning had moved on, down came Edie from her lovely French Tudor home, balancing a pure silver tea tray, loaded with all the goodies one would expect to eat and drink during High Tea in England.
During the last days just prior to the event, ALL of our volunteers turned out in force to do weeding, raking, and deadheading. Edie's weeks of her special program of spraying and feeding began to really pay off. Perfect weather the day of the event topped off a perfect setting for a garden with hardly a leaf out of place.
Need something special and distinctive for your docents to wear for a special event? One very talented rose member, Lois Brooks, had the idea to buy enough material to sew 30 matching rose print aprons for our volunteers to wear. We got so many compliments on them that we wished we had extras to sell at a booth! (which we did the following year.)
We all wore rose print dresses, very popular in the early '90's, large, rose decorated sun hats, and comfortable flats. The public loved the whole dress code and the idea of placing educated docents throughout the garden to answer questions. Our gentlemen docents wore their matching corduroy hats and we all wore our name tags.
We sold small bouquets of mostly miniature roses in small rose‑paper wrapped milk cartons and soup cans and also nosegays pulled through sweet lace paper doilies. At the same booth we also sold potted miniature roses and matted rose prints. We had a raffle booth featuring elegant donated prizes, a small white elephant sale, and, for the children, of course, pony rides, a clown and a separate face painting booth; not to mention the "Find 6 Hidden Treasures of the Garden" printed on the back of the program.
Food wise, the following local businesses had booths: Food for Life (muffins), The Sweet Bean (gourmet coffees and pastries in the morning and ice cream in the afternoon), a huge success! Edie wanted everything as elegant as a classy wedding, so the tables, chairs, pink table clothes and tents were all of the best quality. Guests who had pre‑purchased their tickets with a reasonably priced meal had the option of sitting at these tables and eating the best food from the elegant Park Cafe Catering Co., while others could choose Crazy J's Pizza Co. or the very fun and popular local Hot Dog Vendor!
Two of the most popular concessions were the Herban Garden and Baily Winery. Every concession made donations to our society.
If the picture is not yet complete in your mind, then just imagine the classy chamber music from the Festival Quartet; wafting down to you from the front porch of Edie's French Tudor‑style home; imagine diners eating elegant catered meals. Remember those pink table clothes? Now picture the rose bouquet centerpieces. Now imagine yourself on the backyard pool patio, under the shade of climbing, fragrant Snowbird, listening to a classical guitarist. Everywhere you look, there are roses planted right along with knee high lavender, iris and every other blooming plant you can imagine.
Altogether, 1,500 to 1,800 people attended our event. The tickets were so incredibly reasonable that any family, of any means, could afford to attend. Our ticket price was only $4 for adults and $2 for children. After we added up our expenses, we knew we would have to charge more for admission in future fetes. Our first year was only a one day event. We knew next year, we'd have to make it last at least, two days, as well as raising prices to be a true financial success. However, we gained numerous new members and made lots of good friends in the community. A great time was had by all. We did a terrific job, but also learned so much. We repeated the Fetes for four years. We made new friends like Deb and Rob Mock of Houston, Texas. They planned their whole vacation around a visit to "An English Country Rose Garden."
I remember standing all alone at the top of Edie's driveway, watching as she and Mel drove down the hill to get some dinner in town. It was so peaceful and quiet after the hectic day, weeks, and months of hard work. I felt as if we had truly accomplished something great together. Now and then, I feel nostalgic about the energy and determination and dedication we all had to our cause. Twenty‑five years after founding the Rose Society, it remains a thriving, vibrant society, full of energetic people, dedicated to maintaining our glorious Rose Haven. Thank you ALL!