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Rhonda Ferree's ILRiverHort

Rhonda Ferree's Horticulture Blog
June 2013 BRIGHT SPOT at neighboring homes of Gerald and Bonnie Fidler and Jim and Brenda McKee. See at 1321 E Chestnut and 1313 E Chestnut.

New Year's Day Rose Parades of the Past

As most of my readers know, one of my favorite activities of the year is watching the New Year's Day Rose Parade. Every year I am amazed by the amount of work that goes into creating the floats using only natural materials.

I've been writing about various plants in the rose parade floats since 2002, and this year I'm pulling some of my favorite excerpts from those articles. My first article in 2002 was all about orchids. I especially liked the use of orchids to create flowering trees. For example, the City of Duarte, California float called "America – Let's Celebrate" had lush trees of pink roses, gerbera daisies, and lavender Dendrobium orchids. Other floats had trees with yellow or white orchids.

Orchids were on almost every float.

2003 highlighted the Hawaiian Ti plant. The Ti plant is special to me because my Grandma Simmons had them. Ti plants were used on many floats that year, but I especially liked its use on the Automobile Club of Southern California's "A Big Adventure," starring Stuart Little. For those who haven't seen the Stuart Little 2 movie, in it the little mouse flies an airplane through New York City. On the float Stuart Little's plane was decorated in yellow strawflower and carnation petals with accents of red Ti leaves. Stuart's jacket was made of maroon Ti leaves.

In 2005, my favorite float was from FTD and was appropriately called "Garden of Dreams." The float featured fairies dancing among giant lily of the valley blooms. I love lily of the valley! It showcased the widest selection of springtime flowers ever used in the Rose Parade, at that time. In addition to 12 varieties of roses, there were tulips, daffodils, iris, tuberose, forsythia, lily of the valley, calla lilies, hydrangea, peony, delphinium, alstroemeria, snapdragons, bouvardia, freesia, nerine lily, viburnum and larkspur. Wow!

My favorite float in 2006 was by Farmers Insurance Group called "Protecting Your Family." It featured a giant Tyrannosaurus Rex and her baby in phenomenal detail. They used pinecones to recreate the dinosaur's scales. Anthuriums were used for their tongues. Bromeliads created the forest floor. They even used pomegranate halves for added effect here and there.

Of course roses are always prevalent in this parade. In 2007 roses were on almost every float. The Bayer Advanced float, titled "The Red Carpet of Roses", featured fifty varieties of roses, including a debut of the All-America Rose Selections' 2007 winners for best roses of the year — Rainbow Knock Out®, Moondance™ and Strike it Rich™. The Santa Fe Springs float, "Our Hometown", included six foot tall roses. It also used roses to look like cascading bougainvillea.

Vegetable were a favorite in 2013, especially Kaiser Permanente for its use of purple cabbage all around a float's lower edge. Titled "Oh the Healthy Things You Can Do," this float used the Cat in the Hat and Thing One and Thing Two to get people energized and moving. What fun!

Someday I'll make it to see the parade in person. It's a top item on my bucket list!

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