Bill Reid Rose
Bill Reid Wolf Pendant
   Bill Reid: Wolf Pendant, 1976. Photo: Kenji Nagai
Bill Reid Killer Whale
   Bill Reid: Killer Whale, 1982. Photo: Kenji Nagai

Bill Reid -
The Rose and The Artist

Bill Reid created over 2,000 works during his long career, from the 'monumentally small' to the 'exquisitely huge'. And perhaps of greater impact were his parallel careers as broadcaster, writer, poet, storyteller and communicator. Bill Reid was the pivotal force in introducing to the world the great art traditions of the indigenous people of the Northwest Coast. His legacies include infusing that tradition with modern ideas and forms of expression, influencing emerging artists, and building lasting bridges between First Nations and other peoples.

He combined European jewelry techniques with the Haida art tradition. His passion for Haida art was kindled by a visit to Haida Gwaii in 1954 when he saw a pair of bracelets masterfully engraved by the great master carver and his great-uncle, Charles Edenshaw, after which, to use his own words, "the world was not the same". For the next 50 years Reid embraced many art forms. His many powerful sculptural masterpieces include The Raven and the First Men, the Haida creation story, and The Spirit of Haida Gwaii, showcased at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. and at the Vancouver International Airport.

The Bill Reid rose is reminiscent of the medium Bill Reid often used: gold. The rose itself has a vibrant golden hue, which it retains even under the strong rays of the summer sun. The colour denotes energy, warmth and vitality. And much like the artist, the Bill Reid rose flowers prolifically, more so than other yellow roses. In true Canadian fashion, this rose is hardy to zone 3.

Design Ideas for Bill Reid Rose

Bill Reid rose has the dependable features you've come to expect in modern roses such as disease resistance, tolerance of many soil types, and repeating blooms. The size of the Bill Reid rose (90 cm high by 70 cm wide) makes it excellent for the perennial garden or landscape bed. It can be used as a stand-alone specimen, a complement to yellow-variegated plants such as gold-leaved Euonymus or Hosta varieties, or in contrast to dark-leaved plants like Japanese barberry, elderberry, and larger Heuchera. Try some on the sunny side of a cedar hedge, near purple leaf ninebark or as replacements for some fussier roses.

For patio pots 50 cm diameter or larger, a single plant of Bill Reid rose provides repeat blooms and backdrop for annuals such as bushy blue lobelia and white or deep coloured petunia. Finish off the arrangement with golden creeping Jenny draping over the edges of the pot and echoing the colour of the roses.

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For more information on the acclaimed Canadian artist Bill Reid: