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Gardening Articles: Flowers :: Roses

A Rose Guru's Garden

by Ann Hooper

The 1997 All-America Rose Selection 'Scentimental' was created by Tom Carruth.

During a trip to sunny Los Angeles, this Boston-based rosarian was delighted to be invited to visit the home garden of Tom Carruth and his partner, John Furman. Carruth, director of research at Weeks Roses in Upland, California, is the cream of this country's very small crop of young professional rose hybridizers, with a number of popular new varieties to his credit. His red-and-white-striped floribunda, 'Scentimental', is an All-America Rose Selection for 1997, and last spring, gardeners snapped up every available plant of this unique, fragrant rose.

So one would think that his home garden -- in Altadena, just north of Pasadena -- would be rose heaven. But surprisingly, roses are in the minority in their small but exquisite garden (less than a quarter acre in all), with only Carruth and Furman's favorite varieties of roses. But they are, of course, grown to California perfection.

Both Carruth and Furman are expert horticulturists who have an interest in nearly all types of plants. They specialize in searching out the unusual, and their extensive travels throughout the United States have allowed them to find some rare specimens. Every inch of space is used, creating a cozy enclosure for their Spanish-Mediterranean house. The gardens in front and in back of the house, and on both sides as well, are densely planted, but with a wonderful feeling of organization and a natural flow from one area to another.

One inescapable truth about avid gardeners is that they fall in love with plants that won't grow in their local climate. True to form, not only did I fall in love with nearly every tender-in-my-climate plant I observed, but I also envied the architecture and artistic blending of form, color, and texture in the gardens. Furman, who teaches drama at the California State University at Northridge, is largely responsible for the artistry. He has an enviable ability to create moods and feelings in the garden, especially a sense of humor. For instance, instead of a gazing globe, his garden features a "gouging globe," a barbed wire sphere by a prominent western artist.

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