Napa Valley mourns death of its ubiquitous rose gardener

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Napa Valley mourns death of its ubiquitous rose gardener

Johns Rose Garden For Sale

From the March 3, 2000 FAMILY section of The Napa Valley Register by The Register Staff
(The original article has been edited to correct some minor inaccuracies.)

A rose by any other name, might have been named John Dallas. Mr. Dallas, 81, who was Napa Valley's ubiquitous rose gardener, died February 27, 2000. And with him, the pleasure his open garden brought to hundreds of visitors each spring. John's Rose Garden, which consisted of about 1-1/2 acres, will no longer be open to the public, according to his son Russell Dallas.

The public has been visiting John's Rose Garden free of charge for 27 years. The peak time for visitors to experience the blooming showcase of blossoming roses was from late April until early June. The family hopes to be able to keep the garden going so they can open one day around this time each year in memory of the man who loved roses.

Mr. Dallas taught at Napa Valley College and also Solano Community College, where he was a landscape instructor. John Dallas was one of the founders of the North Bay Rose Society and he belonged to several rose organizations, said Gary Sampson, a friend, fellow nursery worker and horticulturist. Sampson first met Mr. Dallas when he went to work in the nursery business in the 1960s.

"I think John might have come from an English background. That might be part of the reason he loved roses so much," Sampson said. "He was such a good resource person and a great rosarian. He was a real genuine person. His door was always open. John's Rose Garden blossomed into more than 500 rose varieties over the years. Antique roses were one of his specialties, long before they became popular with people again".

Some of John's roses have significant historical value. One came from Bulgaria and was used to make perfume. And there is the Old China Rose, which was crossed with a European rose in the 1800s. Some of Mr. Dallas' favorite roses include the Royal Sunset Rose, because of its large orange-apricot petals and smell. He always entered his roses in the Napa Valley Fair every summer. However, according to his son Larry, "The only time Dad entered cut roses in any form of competition was when he wanted to show a student how to select roses for display."

Napa Valley College President Diane Carey Woodruff said John and his wife were very supportive of the college. The Dallas family has established the John's Rose Garden scholarship fund at NVC. "We're already receiving calls from people wishing to donate to the scholarship fund," Carey Woodruff said. "What a great tribute to someone like John."

NVC Pesident Woodruff also has fond memories of John's rose garden. "I've enjoyed the garden so much. It's just one of the most beautiful places in the Napa Valley. "You could tell John had such a love of roses and gardening. He created a paradise. You could tell it was a labor of love for him. I wish it could remain open to the public," Carey Woodruff added. "I'll really miss him. He was a wonderful. His dedication to his roses and garden are an inspiration to me everytime I went out there."

Napa County Board of Supervisor Brad Wagenknecht recalled his first memories of the roses when his father, who was a friend of Mr. Dallas, took him to John's Rose Garden. "It was a wonderful place to go. It was a wonderful resource for Napa Valley," Brad Wagenkenecht said.

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