Rose season in Review   

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Strawberry BlondeIt has been a busy few weeks for those in the world of roses with the main bloom season across much of the country. Much of the country has had a good spring which certainly helped bring the roses along and it is always a great pleasure to see the roses blooming again for another season. The rain during November has been a help and a hindrance for rose enthusiasts with rainfall keeping drought at bay but also damaging blooms, especially with heavy downpours.

November is the month where roses start coming into bloom over much of the country and for rose enthusiasts, it is a very busy time of the year with rose shows and rose trials to attend.

In mid-November, the New Zealand Rose of the Year trials were held at Rogers Rose Garden, part of the popular visitor attraction Hamilton Gardens. The roses were looking stunning for the visitors to the Pacific Rose Bowl Festival who were able to vote for what they thought were the best-looking roses in the trials.

Little Miss PerfectThe overall winner of the New Zealand Rose of the Year for 2018 and also voted the best floribunda went to ‘Little Miss Perfect’ bred by Rob Somerfield of New Zealand. This low growing rose smothers itself with coral pink blooms and is great for smaller gardens, pots and also grown as a short standard. Another of Rob’s varieties ‘Strawberry Blonde’ won the Children’s Choice Award and the Best New Zealand Raised Rose. It looked a picture in the gardens with masses of golden apricot blooms covering the plants.

‘Hi Ho Silver’ from Gisborne Rose Breeder Mike Athy won the Best Hybrid Tea and also Most Fragrant. The silvery lilac coloured blooms may not be everyone’s cup of tea but the strong scent would certainly appeal to those who love fragrant roses.

David Austin of England picked up the award for Best Climber with ‘Lady of Shalott’. Some of the Austin or English roses are best grown as climbers in New Zealand conditions and this is one of them. The orange-apricot blooms are chalice shaped and have a good scent.  Another English breeder, Frank Cowlishaw won Best Shrub rose with ‘Rhapsody in Blue’. The eye-catching blooms start off plum purple and age to a slate blue with a good scent added in for good measure.

All these roses are available from garden centres and specialist rose nurseries.

This year’s National Spring Rose Show and Convention was held in Woodend, North Canterbury and was organised by the New Zealand Rose Society. The local organising committee did a fantastic job of organising this event and putting roses on the map in the area.

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Exhibitors came from far and wide to show off their best blooms in the show which was very well attended by the public.  In large roses, the Champion of Champions went to a small stem of ‘Reflections’ and was exhibited by Jan Lusty of the Waikato Rose Society. It was the first time Jan had travelled by plane with roses and she was thrilled at the result. In the miniature type roses, Irene Taylor, also from the Waikato Rose Society won the Champion of Champions award with a fully open bloom of ‘Irresistible’. There were some wonderful blooms in the show and the special section classes set to the theme of ‘Rose Magic’ were outstanding with Derrol and Helen White from the Northland Rose winning the award for the best exhibit overall.

At the time of writing, the awards from the New Zealand Rose Society trials in Palmerston North had yet to be presented but they will be mentioned in my January column.

There were also two special awards presented over the past weeks. The first, the New Zealand Rose Award for services to the rose, was presented to Rob Somerfield from Tauranga. Mention was made in the citation of Rob’s rose breeding and the many wonderful cultivars he has developed which grace gardens around New Zealand, his many awards in rose trials and the rose varieties he has named for various causes.

IMG 3326The second award, the Award of Garden Excellence from the World Federation of Rose Societies was unveiled at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens and covers both the Central and Heritage Rose Gardens. This award was announced at the World Rose Convention in Denmark in July and recognises outstanding rose gardens from a visual and educational viewpoint.

Well, that’s it for 2018, I would like to wish all readers a Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous 2019.

In the Rose Garden for December

  • Enjoy the blooms, either in the garden or bring a bunch inside. Remember take a bucket of water to the roses (not the other way around) and recut stems under water.
  • Dehead, dehead, dehead. Not only does the garden tidy, it also helps to encourage more blooms to be produced.
  • Water if the weather remains dry. Lack of water causes plants to get stressed and become susceptible to disease. When watering, one good deep soaking at the roots is better than a quick, light flick with the hose.
  • Keep the weeds at bay.
  • If you are on holiday, visit one of the many fine public rose gardens around the country and see what is looking good.

By Hayden Foulds

Hayden also serves as Deputy Chairman of the World Federation of Rose Societies Rose Trials Committee amongst other rose endeavours. 

Read more from Hayden here.