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Our Mission

Our Mission as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization is: 

~ To promote the culture, interest, and appreciation of roses

~ To encourage the introduction, development, and uses of all kinds of roses

~ To gather and publish information on the varieties, propagation, and nomenclature of roses

~ To issue bulletins and/or other publications deemed advisable by the Executive Board


Captain Harry E. Stebbings

In the early 1960’s, Commander Harry E. Stebbings, fresh from sea duty, encountered his first rose bush. Actually, there were 21 bushes and they came with a house he purchased in San Mateo, California. Not having the opportunity to grow roses at sea, he sought the expertise of the San Mateo County Rose Society to educate himself on the care and feeding of roses.

After two of the members visited his home and identified the varieties as well as provided advice on nurturing them, he became an active member in the society and an American Rose Society (ARS) horticulture judge. When he completed his tour of duty at Treasure Island, Captain Stebbings moved to Santa Rosa, CA.


His new home did not come with roses but he was quick to remedy that. Santa Rosa did not have a rose society but with the collaboration of Dr. Dennison Morey, they established the first rose society in Santa Rosa in 1965.

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Dr. Dennison Morey

An accomplished plant geneticist, rose hybridizer, and horticultural historian, Mr. Morey developed hundreds of rose varieties during his career including 'Kings Ransom' (1961), 'Morey's Pink' (1994), and 'South Seas' (1960).


One of his most notable roses is the collection bred for writer Pamela Travers (P.L. Travers), author of the book Mary Poppins. Through their many correspondences discussing their mutual love of roses, Dennison decided to name three hybrid tea roses in Pamela's honor: 'Mary Poppins' (1969), 'Pamela Travers' (1966), and 'Sleeping Beauty' (1966, P.L. Travers’s favorite fairy tale).


Mr. Morey was president of General Bionomics and flew a P-38 as member of the USAF during World War II. He received his Ph.D. from Stanford University and resided in Santa Rosa, CA.

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Organized in 1965

The first meeting of the Redwood Empire Rose Society was on September 23, 1965 at Harry Stebbings’ home. An ARS officer from San Diego attended. Up until March 2012, Dr. Dennison Morey is the only surviving member who attended that original meeting. Since that inaugural meeting, RERS has met on the third Thursday of the month. Starting in January 1966, the meetings have been held at the Luther Burbank Art and Garden Center.


Stebbings began propagating and hybridizing roses in the 1960s. His namesake rose is a beautiful vibrant pink, very fragrant Hybrid Tea with large, double blooms. A stylized version of the 'Captain Harry Stebbings' rose was incorporated into our society's new seal in September 2022.


'Captain Harry Stebbings'

Hybridized by:  Stebbings
Introduced: 1980


The RERS has been very active in the Santa Rosa community. Each year the Spring Rose Show is attended by many non-members. The RERS has entered in the Hall of Flowers Garden Contest at the Sonoma County Fair up to 2003, and our dedicated members attend each year to staff an informational table in the Hall of Flowers to welcome fairgoers and sign up new members. 

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