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Rose photos in the catalogs, if only they....

Moses, Western PA., zone 5/6, USA
5 days ago
last modified: 5 days ago

On the subject of the rose photos in the catalogs, in a perfect world there would be:

1. ENTIRE BUSH SHOTS of a mature bush, growing by itself, in full bloom, both from directly overhead (camera pointed straight down from above the bush), and from the bush's profile.


A. buds showing some color

B. partially open buds

C. exhibition stage blooms

D. fully open blooms with bosses showing

Such a rose catalog would put the company that created such a gift to the rose gardener, light years ahead of the competition.

What say you?


Comments (28)

  • Lilyfinch z7 mid tn

    That would be lovely !! And while we are dreaming , scratch and sniff as well . :)

    it is nice we have help me find if people share their photos.

  • Ellen W.

    Seconding the call for a picture of the actual plant - I'm buying a plant, not a single flower. While we're at it I'd like to have a word with them about color balance, aka The Purple Problem, and how important it is that all the photos have roughly the same processing (although technically this complaint is more for Burpee's and the like.)

    It is kind of fun though to read old gardening books and see how they had the same complaints about the catalogs...

  • lkayetwvz5

    Haha Lilyfinch - We definitely need to add scratch and sniff! Can you imagine ordering roses when the pictures were black and white or enhanced drawings? Talk about some surprises!

  • a1an

    Welcome to my world Moses. Between instagram, rose blogs and youtube, I've found what I would what I would consider ~real world expectations~ base on each rose I've looked at. Its HARD research ! Google images helps but it primarily trends on the marketing zoom up pics

    Those perfect marketing pics may lead to unexpected expectations if I expected every bush to look like that -perfect bloom-

  • HalloBlondie (zone5a) Ontario, Canada
    Thank goodness for HMF! I agree the marketing materials can be very misleading. One bloom photo is never enough. It has taken me 3 years to figure out the difference between varieties, bush sizes, shapes, forms, etc.

    I now know to look at a variety of photos online through different sources to get a better idea of each roses habits. Sometimes I find that I really end up not liking a rose after seeing multiple images of it. But I would have bought it just based on the plant photo tag.

    The other thing I have found is that sometimes I see photos of roses on the forum or hmf, that look even better than the website or catalogue photos. And all roses look different in different areas, colours really vary in different climates!
  • stillanntn6b

    If you can find some of the Jackson and Perkins catalogs from about ten years ago, you'll find that "bush shots" were, shall we say, faked. Their use of photo shop was hilarious. You'd see where they had a bloom cut in half, and that same bloom five other places on the same rose, and another bloom and adjacent bud maybe eight places. It got to the point of every bush shot seemed to be 'altered'.

    There's also the picture of a climbing rose beside a cottage wall with pansies at the base of the wall. With enough catalogs, you will see that that rose is white, with another name its pink, and I've also seen it with a third name in purple.

    And then there was a mention on Gardenweb of a bush shot of climbing Peace. The poster remembered being at the Garden when the photo was taken. She was there, in fact, before the picture was taken, and she watched a worker take two dozen blooms of Peace and tie them onto the bush that was going to be photographed.

    Caveat emptor.

  • Moses, Western PA., zone 5/6, USA


    On the one hand your stories are hilarious, but on the other hand they illustrate the disgust we generate from being victims of the bold faced lies perpetrated on an unwary public. Unfortunately, we get so accustomed to deceptive marketing practices, that we become complacent to them. Too bad 'Honest Abe Lincoln,' was not a rose breeder and founder of a rose house that persists today. We might be able to rely upon its integrity in marketing if it continued in business, adhering to his ideals of conduct.


  • Amanda Zone10Socal

    This reminds me of the ongoing debate about fashion photography. Do you want to look at the glossily photoshopped pretty people or do you want to see what it would really look like on an average person's body? Those rose catalogs wouldn't be as much fun to look at without a little flower rearrangement. You should hear what they do to food.

  • K S 8b Seattle

    Alas, only the real obsessives like us would purchase roses from a catalog that showed them in their natural state. Most people would continue to buy from places that photoshop heavily and/or set up artful flower arrangements in the general shape of an idealized plant.

    Moses, Western PA., zone 5/6, USA thanked K S 8b Seattle
  • Amanda Zone10Socal

    I wonder what it would look like if they had to put typical gardener results next to professional gardener results as well. Like, here’s the nice bush that we grew, and this is the funny looking bush that’s half dr huey that you are going to grow.

  • Amanda Zone10Socal

    I do wonder sometimes when they drop that stupid blue filter on the “blue“ roses what they are trying to acheive. Sometimes they forget and put the unfiltered one in the photos as well, haha.

  • monarda_gw

    I actually almost prefer catalogs with verbal descriptions and no pictures.

  • alameda/zone 8/East Texas

    I have been in the horse business for many years - first Arabians, now Miniatures. Professional photographers sometimes enhance the length of a horse's neck, the beauty of its head, the levelness of a topline.....among other things. These photos are advertised.......remember many times being disappointed when I saw the actual horse.


  • seil zone 6b MI

    As my Dad always said, "you pays your money and takes your chances"! Or the old caveat, buyer beware. When I first started in roses I did fall for a lot of those glorious photos. It was several years before I realized the truth of the matter. Even now I'll still fall head over heels in love with some gorgeous photo of a rose before I do more research on it and realize it's not for me. Early on I went bonkers for a photo of Summer Fashion. I had to have it! It took me three years to find one and I was over joyed when I did. It was the absolute worst rose I've ever grown in my garden. I'm a little more cautious about looking at those photos now and do a lot more research!

    I love HMF but you need to be careful looking at those photos too. I would spend hours looking up all my roses and would see fabulous photos of huge bushes covered in beautiful blooms and cry because my plants looked nothing like that. I beat myself up thinking I was the worst gardener ever because my plants were half the size and had half the blooms. One day looking at some photos I accidentally clicked on the gardeners name. His page came up and I looked it over and realized he lived in warm, sunny San Diego. Well duh, it hit me that he had a nearly 12 month season compared to my measly 5 month season and he never had to contend with minus whatever degree temperatures (we actually hit -25 one night this year) that often left my roses dead to the soil. Of course mine weren't as large as his and being much smaller plants couldn't possibly produce as many blooms. So you really have to look at more than just the photos on HMF to get the full picture.

  • HalloBlondie (zone5a) Ontario, Canada
    @seil - very wise sentiments. I also always keep the growth/climate in the back of my mind when looking at roses. I cannot compare my plants to any of the warmer zone growers, because they will look puny. For example, a very popular rose like Julia Child will be quite large for many of you here. Mine is maybe 2.5 x 2. It does bloom it's little face off though. Just on a smaller plant!
  • monarda_gw

    It goes beyond catalogs. When you buy a almost any plant in a nursery it has been coddled and fertilized and sprayed with pesticides and growth inhibitors (to be more bushy) to make it more alluring to customers. Then when you place it on your windowsill or plant it in your garden you could be in for a disappointment.
    On the other hand, when I photograph a rose or a person I also want to catch them at their best -- in a glamour shot -- because the unvarnished truth is that a photo just catches a moment and magnifies and immortalizes any defect, It's a mental balancing act between showing something at its best and not crossing the line into dishonesty. I noticed that one of the antique iris websites customarily shows two photos of a flower: a glamour shot, and a second one showing how it usually appears.

  • Ellen W.

    @seil HMF is amazing and wonderful and helpful, but it does have the tiny drawback that many of the photos come from gardens dedicated to roses - I'm thinking of plant pictures from the Sacramento Historic City Cemetery where roses have been allowed to get as big as they want in a city that is the sunniest place in the world for about 4 months of the year.

  • Sheila z8a Rogue Valley OR

    That does give us something to shoot for Ellen. It is aspirational. I love seeing the range of beauty.

  • squarepegman

    Sheila sorry to intrude--I saw on another thread you have Hazeldean; I'm looking for that wondering if you can help out...I enabled PMs on my profile if you want to message me. Thanks!

  • Sheila z8a Rogue Valley OR

    Corn Hill has it and they are already shipping! Alana got roses two days ago from them. I got mine in Alaska from an elderly lady in Homer, Alaska who imported from Canada. Mine was shipped down to me when I moved. I love Hazeldean too.

  • monarda_gw

    I love it, too, at least the pictures I have seen of it. I would so appreciate if you would post pics when it comes into bloom!

  • squarepegman

    Nice; I found Corn Hill the other day and they have lots of interesting roses. I'm in Fairbanks and it sounds like Hazeldean will make it here; have never seen a yellow rose locally.

  • squarepegman

    Ugh, apparently neither Hazeldean or Prairie Peace, the only two I'm really jonesing for, are available from Corn Hill; there is no option to put them in the cart. Any other potential sources?

  • Sheila z8a Rogue Valley OR

    They might be sold out for this year but get on a waiting list there. Leonard Heller on Facebook has sold them last Spring.

  • K S 8b Seattle

    Here is the facebook group for Spinosissimas: https://www.facebook.com/groups/540318416355334/

  • Sheila z8a Rogue Valley OR

    Thank you, KS. Maybe Leonard could send some if Corn Hill is sold out this year.

  • squarepegman

    Thanks Sheila; I did address it in the comments on the order I placed for other roses. K S thanks for the link!

  • pink rose(9b, FL )


    You are right about the rose pics . I have learned that if I like a rose then I put it's name in google and search for images .

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