Helena resident announces American Rose Society vice presidential candidacy

Published 2:49 pm Friday, September 1, 2017


America’s favorite rose gardener, Chris VanCleave has announced his candidacy for vice president of the American Rose Society.


This pivotal role is the first step on the path to the presidency of the nation’s oldest single plant horticultural society still in existence today. The election will occur in July 2018.

VanCleave took the rose world by storm with a surprise announcement of his candidacy on social media this week, generating waves of positive reaction from across the country.

Armed with key endorsements from powerhouses in the world of roses, VanCleave is poised to run a campaign that takes advantage of his vast connections, his notoriety through his groundbreaking Rose Chat Podcast, and his appearances in the local, regional and national press.

VanCleave’s move forward into the spotlight of the national organization, while seeming ambitious to some, is a natural progression of his involvement in the American Rose Society. His passion for roses, his genuine enthusiasm for growing roses and his unique ability to educate and encourage others to grow roses makes him the ideal national leader for the organization.

Considered by many a maverick in the world of roses, VanCleave is testing a long-standing tradition of who can run for vice president. A recent change in the bylaws of the American Rose Society opened the door, and VanCleave wasted no time in announcing his candidacy.

As a member of the ARS, he has served in multiple roles on a local, district and national level. He is a sought-after speaker at home and garden shows, conferences, and American Rose Society events.

A member of the Marketing and Membership committee for six years, he worked with ARS leadership to restart the fledgling “Fragrant Rose” e-newsletter.

“It was a great newsletter but didn’t feature a fragrant rose. We fixed that,” VanCleave said.

This publication was re-tooled as a free e-membership benefit and is used to entice expired members to renew and to encourage potential members to join.

Since VanCleave became the editor, thousands have signed up. Many of those subscribers have now converted to a full ARS membership.

“On every level of the organization, there is room for improvement, and I’ll use my years of experience in process innovation to find ways to expand our reach and improve outdated processes,” VanCleave said. “Someone told me once ‘Old keys won’t open new doors.’ What worked for the organization 10, 20, 30 years ago, won’t necessarily work today. We must be forward thinking if we are going to reach the millennial generation and beyond. We must continue to position ourselves in that direction if we are going to remain relevant in the social media age.”

In 2012, frustrated by negative publicity about roses, VanCleave started the Rose Chat Podcast, an online radio broadcast geared towards helping people grow great roses. Now with over 180 episodes, this broadcast has downloads exceeding 750,000.

Locally, VanCleave serves as chairman of the Helena Beautification Board where he has spearheaded efforts to create a sustainable landscape using Earth-Kind roses and will launch the nation’s first Earth-Kind municipal rose trial in the U.S., in October, at the Helena Sports Complex.

Nationally, he was a contributor to the New Southern Living Gardening Book, has appeared on P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home television show and was featured in Southern Living in print and online.

His writing can be found at About.com, HomeDepot.com as well as various magazines and on his popular website, RedneckRosarian.com, where he chronicles his gardening adventures and explores an intrinsic mix of life, faith and gardening.

In 2016, he partnered with DeWit Garden Tools in Holland and launched a line of heirloom quality gardening tools and this year partnered with Haven Brand Soil Conditioners to launch a line of all natural soil supplements for home gardeners. An agent of change with over two decades experience in process innovation at one of the nation’s top financial institutions, VanCleave is breaking new ground and opening new doors for roses.

Learn more about VanCleave and his candidacy at iGrowRoses.org.