The first glimmer of the Utah Rose Society appeared on December 12, 1915. Parley A. Hill a notable gardener and an early Rose Society proponent wrote an article in Salt Lake Tribune. In that article he proposed a society,
To encourage the extension and improvement of rose culture; for the beautification of homes and the city; for the uplift of children and the community in general; for starting a combined effort to establish and maintain a city rose garden for exhibition and education purpose; to promote an annual ‘Rose Week’ and arrange for similar festivals through the year.
Although Mr. Hill’s vision would take a few decades to catch on. His words encapsulated the spirit of the Society, “Because everyone likes roses.”
Hill’s idea would lay dormant until 1931. That April, Dr. J. Horace McFarland, the President of the American Rose Society spoke to the Salt Lake Flower Club. While in Salt Lake City, McFarland stayed with Mrs. Maude Chegwidden the weekly garden columnist at the Salt Lake Tribune. And it was Mrs. Chegwidden who would be the ultimate driver for the Utah Rose Society.
As a thank you for hosting, Dr. McFarland invited Mrs. Chegwidden to be an honored guest at the National Rose Meeting in Syracuse, New York. Her visit made national headlines. The Murray Eagle ran an article and in it Mrs. Chegwidden tossed around the idea of establishing a chapter of the ARS in Utah.
But it wasn’t until 1935 at the first National Rose Show that the dream truly blossomed. That year the San Diego Rose Society flooded the country, calling for submissions for the inaugural rose contest. At the last minute, the Salt Lake Flower Club hobbled together a submission and sent it down to Southern California. In a total shock, out of hundreds of entries, the Utah submission took second place. An achievement, feted in every newspaper in the state.
At last, on December 5, 1935 the Utah Rose Society was officially established. It is one oldest rose societies in the west. And just like those rosarians of old, the tradition continues today, because everyone likes roses.
Utah Rose Society