The History of Find That Rose

created and edited by Angela Pawsey


This site is based on the 37th Edition of Find That Rose. Find That Rose is open to all UK Rose Growers/stockiest, if you would like to feature in the next Edition then please ask for details by contacting the editor via Contact button.

In September 2008 a booklet was created giving the origins of some 500 rose varieties, which was based on the yearly feature “What’s In A Name” (which appears in Find That Rose), and 100 extra varieties! If you would like a copy order via the Brochure button. In addition you will receive the follow-up items published in subsequent Editions of Find That Rose. You can also order “Find That Rose!” itself which is the complete package that is used extensively by the Rose Industry, Press, Garden Centres and Landscapers, as well as many loyal members of the general public. This website has helped to introduce a new audience to “Find That Rose” but only contains the basic part of the book for a particularly variety and grower(s). There is also available to purchase a download of this Edition

Now if you read on you will learn how Find That Rose! came about. Did I expect it to still be going strong 33 years on? I really don’t know. However I do know how much it is valued by the Rose Industry and many members of the public some of whom have purchased every single Edition.

If it hadn’t been for a discussion on a train journey between two fellow rose growers Peter Harkness and Mark Mattock (who sadly died November 2018), maybe Find That Rose! would never have been conceived.

For a few years I had Annually produced for the National Rose Festival (held then at the Garden of The Rose home of the now lamented  Royal National Rose Society  Garden of The Rose St Albans) a small booklet which helped visitors find which of the exhibiting growers grew the roses displayed in the marquee. Peter and Mark approached me suggesting I extended the booklet to cover all retail members. My family thought I was mad to agree.  I was!

The first Edition of Find that Rose was launched at the 1983 Rose Festival. The way I created this now seems very antiquated. It was duplicating machine to the ready. I devised a “stencil” sheet with space for variety and all growers’ codes. From Growers information I marked the sheets when they listed a specific variety. As three letter codes for the Festival prototype had been used for each exhibitor this was adopted for Find That Rose.  From folders of alphabetical varieties I carefully typed the information onto pages. The Printer then shrunk, photocopied, and bound the booklet. To add colour Burton McCall (of Secateurs fame) sponsored the front cover of (un-named) “Just Joey” which became the world favourite rose in 1994. Now days the front cover is sponsored by Roses U.K. the marketing body of the U.K. Rose Industry, and features the current Rose of The Year.

The aims of Find That Rose until recently,  was to help people find a particular rose, and guide them to a member of the British Rose Growers Association and to promote such growers. This association no longer exists, but some growers remain members of HTA British Rose Group, and Find That Rose features most of these Growers.  Find That Rose is now an independent publication so also features other growers and leading stockiest..

We had positive Press coverage for the first Edition – the first U.K. horticultural “finder” book.  A copy cost 25p with the purchaser providing a suitable large S.A.E.  Sales were good, in fact on one day I received 500 envelopes.  A sister publication for wholesale suppliers had a disappointing reception. Soon wholesalers were added to Find That Rose and a number was added to growers codes to indicate type of grower. Conventional printing was adopted and after listening to growers and readers more information added. Varieties are now listed with classification, basic colour and fragrance.   Titbits have been added; the most popular helps find Christian names in roses. Also very popular is help to find varieties for a special occasion or person.The booklet also lists the  varieties which have disappeared since the last Edition, which shows the ever changing industry. In the 31st edition dates of introduction was added.

Back to the history. Then in my “spare time” from Christmas to early May was devoted to the creation of the next Edition. I progressed from marking previous editions, adding new varieties, grower etc. to a word processor.  Imagine what a state I was in when one year my obsolete word processors drive failed and other word processors/computers could not “read” the discs. The relief that just in the nick of time a new drive was found and fitted. Today I have a computer and supply the designer the variety information from a memory stick.

Chelsea used to be the launch pad for Find That Rose but now it is difficult to sell copies at Chelsea. Gone are the days when we were able to sell  thousands of copies from the British Association of Representing Breeder’s stand. After they ceased exhibiting copies were openly available from BRGA Chelsea exhibitors. Then came the shocking news Find That Rose! was to be treated like a top shelf magazine! The RHS banned us from displaying copies on our individual members stands; we could only sell them from under the “counter”! This considerably hit sales. After this our  aim was to have copies available for the  Rose Festival tent at Hampton Court.  However sales were not real encouraged,  and with the ever changing face of the industry, where many stockiest do not have an accurate list until mid summer in the last few years publication has been around the end of July.  Now the aim is to have it published as early as possible in August.  Due to the ever increasing popularity of container plants the current Edition is also helpful for searching roses in containers for late spring and summer sales.  So the 37th Edition covers Autumn 2019 and during the main bare root season and container plants which are in the main supplied after the traditional bare root planting season has been completed in late spring. Therefore the cover states AUTUMN 2019-SUMMER  2020.

We depend on good publicity and direct sales, as we have been unable to persuade Bookshops, Garden Centres etc. to stock copies. If we could turn the clock back then we should have approach a publisher and then they could have marketed it.  Find That Rose would have been more expensive but there would be far fewer frustrated prospective customers. I constantly receive letters from people who cannot understand why Find That Rose is so difficult to find and purchase.

By the 24th Edition it was obvious that with modern technology available that “Find That Rose!” had to move with the times. My desire has been to see that “Find That Rose!” remains the authentic guide to who grows what in the UK Rose Industry. As I despaired at misleading websites, which give hope to searchers by listing extinct varieties, I felt the time had come to put the variety/grower section on the web. Varieties come and go as do growers. I cannot guarantee that every single variety available in the U.K. is here! However I believe that Find That Rose site has at least 95% of the varieties that are grown in the U.K. It is I am confident the most comprehensive “UK rose finder site” Each year there is a New Edition of the book to cover the next season and the site is up date at that time … approx. end July

There are still too many new varieties with unattractive selling names as regretfully some Breeders are unaware of the importance of names. Equally the new trend to re-brand classifications is confusing to the buyer.  I receive many letters on this and names. On a positive note I am sure that Find That Rose! has influenced the growing trend of varieties to celebrate various occasions. This business I am confident will continue to grow. Find That Rose remains all about names. Names invoking memories, and dreams of roses to come.

DID YOU KNOW …. A FEW “Find That Rose!” facts and figures

  • The first Edition was published in 1983 and included 40 retail      Growers and approximately 1250 varieties
  • The 33rd Edition published July 2015 includes 40 Growers and approximately 3,580 varieties
  • The first Edition had 32 Pages; the thirty-third 78 text pages with a colourful cover.
  • Of the 40 Growers listed in the first edition only 16 feature in the 24th Edition
  • The largest number of Growers listed in an edition was 73
  • In the early days only Retail Growers were included. The inclusion of wholesale growers prompted the need to add a figure to the three – letter grower code.
  • Except for the 1st Edition which illustrated “Just Joey” all other covers have featured the current Rose of The Year
  • Initially only the name and type of rose was indicated with the Growers code.
  • A colour code was later created, and even later stills a fragrance indicator and now date of introduction.
  • To help people find a rose with a particular Christian name a cross – reference was created.
  • The number of New varieties in each Edition averages around the 170  mark. Each Edition also sees the disappearance of around 150  varieties. In the last few Editions there has been a considerable increase in varieties which have ceased to be produced. Some re-appear in later Editions. Particularly in the last few  years around 25% of the variety and growers information changes in  each Edition.

Find That Rose formed a major membership attraction to the British Rose Growers Association, with members having free entry into Find That Rose. Unfortunately the Industry has now changed and this is reflected with the disbanding of the Association. Some of the former members are part of the H.T.A. British Rose Group.