NZ Rose Trial Winners

By Hayden Foulds

Quintessential, a free-flowering, healthy pink rose has taken the top award at the New Zealand Rose Society International Rose Trial Awards in Palmerston North.

Rob Somerfield with his award-winning rose Quintessential. Photo: Hayden Foulds

Bred by Tauranga’s Rob Somerfield (Glenavon Roses), Quintessential not only received the Gold Star of the South Pacific last weekend, it was also the pick of invited guests who voted it the best-looking rose in the trial before the awards were announced.

“It’s been a favourite of mine for a while” Rob says of the rose, which will be released in New Zealand within the next two or three years.

Rob,  who now has seven Gold Stars, also received a Certificate of Merit for the patio rose Purple Pizzazz.

Purple Pizzazz, bred by Rob Somerfield. Photo: Hayden Foulds

The Nola Simpson Novelty Award went to Eye of the Tiger, a single yellow bloom with a striking red ‘eye’ bred by Chris Warner of England and entered by Tasman Bay Roses of Motueka.

Eye of the Tiger. Photo: Hayden Foulds

Wanganui rose breeder and grower Bob Matthews (Matthews Nurseries) won a Certificate of Merit for an un-named cluster-flowering pink rose with very good health.

This unnamed pale pink rose bred by Bob Matthews is showing great health characteristics. Photo: Hayden Foulds

Matthias Meilland, a member of the renowned Meilland rose-breeding family of France, presented an interesting lecture on how new roses are developed and commercialised around the world and spoke of the importance of rose trials for testing and promoting new rose varieties. Mr Meilland planted a Peace rose (bred by his grandfather) close to the trial beds in the Dugald Mackenzie Rose Gardens, part of the city’s Victoria Esplanade Gardens.

The New Zealand Rose Society trials are now into their 46th year and test new varieties from New Zealand and international rose breeders and are assessed over two years by a panel of 20 judges. Those roses which have gained an average of 70% are recognised with awards to reflect the consistently high performance they have achieved during the trial period.

If you’re interested in how new roses do in your part of the country, get hold of a copy of the New Zealand Rose Review – this year’s edition includes reports on 91 newer-variety roses, the most ever.

Produced by the New Zealand Rose Society with leading rose nurseries and breeders advertising their latest releases, the full-colour guide also features the favourite roses of NZRS members, as well as the winning roses from trials in Palmerston North and Hamilton.

The New Zealand Rose Review 2016-17 is $9.50 (including postage). For details on purchase go to the New Zealand Rose Society website or contact the society’s secretary, Heather Macdonell, phone/fax 06 329 2700.

Tree of the moment: Stewartia

Saw this Stewartia pseudocamellia growing in the Chihuly Garden in Seattle, a tree I hadn’t come across before but catching my attention with its pretty flowers.

Stewartia pseudocamellia. Photo: Sandra Simpson

As you can tell by the tree’s name and the photo, when in flower it looks like a camellia and is, apparently, related to the tea camellia.

The foliage emerges bronzy purple in spring, develops into a dark green by summer, and turns red or orange in autumn. The white camellia-like flowers come in summer, though the tree is noted for successive flowering rather than one big display.

Another attractive attribute of this tree is its bark which exfoliates year round in strips of gray, orange, and reddish brown.

The tree eventually reaches up to 13m tall and 7m wide and prefers moist, acidic, well-drained soil in full morning sun or partial shade. It apparently does not do well in areas where night temperatures remain high.

There are other members in the Stewartia family, read more about them here. Most are native to East Asia, but there are some native to the southeasterrn US.

Stewartia monadelpha pictured in the VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver (Canada). Photo: Sandra Simpson

Stewartia monadelpha has the common name orangebark tree (you can guess why),  has smaller flowers than S. pseudocamellia, and doesn’t like being pruned. However, it is believed to be more heat tolerant.

The genus was named in 1753 by Carl Linnaeus to honour John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute (1713-92), a Scottish nobleman who was Prime Minister of Great Britain for a year from 1762 (and not a very good one, by all accounts!).

John Stuart was a tutor to George, Prince of Wales (later George III), and his brother Prince Edward, and had a lifelong interest in botany, culminating in the publication of Botanical Tables Containing the Families of British Plants in 1785.

Owing to an error, the name emanated from Linnaeus as ‘Stewart’ and although it used to be more commonly ‘Stuartia’, the name is now officially recognised as ‘Stewartia’.

Fluttering by

UK conservationist Steve Wheatley has landed at Te Puna Quarry Park to work with Katikati entomologist Peter Maddison and Tauranga butterfly expert Norm Twigge on an investigation of the rare native forest ringlet butterfly.

Norm Tiwgge (left) and Steve Wheatley enjoy a cuppa at Te Puna Quarry Park this morning. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The Monarch Butterfly NZ Trust has brought out Steve, who works for the Butterfly Conservation Trust and is on a 3-month sabbatical, especially for the project. He will be based in the Tauranga area until Christmas, then moves on to Auckland and the South Island.

Norm has been recording forest ringlet sightings in the Mt Ruapehu area for 20 years and says there are six or seven areas nationwide where the butterfly is found but not a lot is known about breeding patterns or why Dodonidia helmsii is declining in numbers in lowland areas, so it’s hoped this project will fill in some of those gaps. According to the Nature Watch website, the butterfly has become “significantly rarer over the last 50 years”.

The park’s butterfly garden features in the December issue of NZ Gardener and includes interviews with the garden’s founder Mary Parkinson and, since he moved to Tauranga from Whakatane a year ago, her right-hand man Norm.

Tree of the moment: Melia azedarach

When we moved in to our home 26 years ago there was a Melia tree in the back corner but the poor old thing was past its use-by date so not too much later we had it removed. I’ve been enjoying getting to re-know it, in the gardens of others, in the past few weeks, my attention piqued by its spring flowering.

Known as white cedar in Australia and Chinaberry in the US, Melia azedarach also has several other common names, including umbrella tree, bead tree, Indian lilac and Persian lilac. It is native to parts of Australia (and in other parts is considered a weed), as well as the Middle East, India, China and South East Asia. Drought tolerant, it reaches a height of 6-12m with a wide canopy.

Photo: Sandra Simpson

The tree has fragrant flowers in spring, offers shade in summer and is deciduous in winter when the yellow berries (containing seeds) hang on the branches like so many small moons. The berries, I’ve read, are liked by our native word pigeon (kereru) – in this 2005 article, author Russell Fransham says he planted the trees specifically to attract those birds. The hard seeds, toxic when consumed in large amounts, were once commonly used to make rosaries.

A Melia tree covered in seeds in the Imperial Palace Garden, Kyoto, Japan. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Melia azedarach is a member of the mahogany family although its timber isn’t considered particularly valuable.

Read more about the tree here.

Garden & Artfest: Day 4

There we are, all over for another 2 years! Director of this 10th biennial festival, John Beech, can heave a sigh of relief – apart from some strong winds today, the weather’s been pretty good. This was John’s last festival so I hope he’s being properly feted by his board of trustees for delivering 3 Garden and Artfests. Festivals aren’t the easiest thing to put on and one that’s at the vagaries of the weather (not to mention roadworks) is fraught with peril.

My thanks to all the gardeners who agreed to have hundreds of people tramp through their plots – I was impressed by how many were immaculate. Such effort and thoroughly appreciated.

There will always be niggles – the map is a perennial one and I heard grumbles again this time – but what could have been the biggest problem, the swampy ground at The Hub, just saw people accept it and get on. Sadly for Geoff Brunsden, his wildflowers were blooming at the original Hub site, a few blocks up the road, but he shrugged and grinned. Gardeners know the weather is a fickle companion.

After leaving The Hub this afternoon my final stop was at The Apron, a garden put into Baycourt’s lawn and commissioned by the festival from artist Richard Orjis. The programme blurb says: “… this project explores our everyday green spaces. It makes reference to our local landscape and the flora that resides on the boundary …”. I walked around it and through it but couldn’t quite grasp what was being presented. Could ‘flora on the boundary’ be a euphemism for ‘weeds’?

A view of The Apron garden. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Photo: Sandra Simpson

Two ‘lawn’ circles have been cut, as well as a curving path between the flowering ‘beds’. Photo: Sandra Simpson

I only had time today for a country garden and a few city gardens before I was due back at The Hub to help out on a stand. Here are a few photos.

Not only was the front garden of this Judea home full of roses – every one was clearly named! Such a help. Photo: Sandra Simpson

This Brookfield garden has been 31 years in the making, the owner said, and she’s not finished yet! Photo: Sandra Simpson

Alstroemeria ‘Indian Summer’ makes a bold statement. Photo: Sandra Simpson

I was so excited to be out early this morning that when I arrived at the first garden I leapt out of the car and set off round the extensive grounds, meeting the owner part-way. She looked me up and down and asked if I was there for the ramble. Horrors, I’d left my neck tag in the car! I must have passed muster because she accepted my apologies without query. Later, I heard her husband on the phone saying that yesterday they’d had 15-20 people trying it on (hadn’t bought a ticket)! I scuttled back to the car, put my tag on and stayed legal for the rest of the day.

Garden & Artfest: Day 3

A gallery of photos from today, in no particular order.

Leigh Nicholas is showing an exhibition of her stunning flower photos in her garden at Papamoa (No 55). Photo: Sandra Simpson

Clare Trott (Garden 61) has ‘boxed clever’ by using Japanese box for her hedging – no problems with blight, whereas her two English box balls need constant spraying. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The view across the harbour from Pete’s Retreat at Mataphi (No 52). The peacock isn’t real. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Garden 59 in suburban Te Puke is surprisingly large, well tended and full of sophisticated detail, such as this deck dresser. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Liz Clark is welcoming visitors into her Ohauiti pottery studio (stop No 44). Photo: Sandra Simpson

Found Claudia Gorringe (Standards of Excellence) in Japanese-inspired Garden 46, high in the Ohauiti hills, chatting to the owner (far right). Claudia’s topiary is on display – and available to buy – at The Hub. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Thankfully, after such a long trip into the Ohauiti hills, there’s a another garden open right next door (No 47). The giant gerbera makes a nice focal point at the end of this rustic pergola. Photo: Sandra Simpson


Garden & Artfest: Day 2

The Vege Grower held the calendar fort at The Hub today, allowing me to do a bit more roaming and, with an errand in Katikati, I decided to start at Garden 1, River Cottage. Wise choice, particularly as it was time for elevenses! What a welcoming sight on the front lawn and in the kitchen.

River Cottage’s pop-up café. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The sensational staff hard at work. Photo: Sandra Simpson

And the equally sensational strawberry sponge (with green tea). Photo: Sandra Simpson

Beautiful weather today and there seemed to be plenty of people taking advantage of it. Fingers crossed the weekend will be just as nice. Here are some photos from some of the other gardens I wandered around.

The cat may be called Bernie. Whatever, he’s very friendly and was enjoying the sun in the Italian-style garden at Earthforce (garden 5), occasionally drinking from the pool. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Even looking at a photo of a wasp makes my scalp crawl, but I couldn’t resist this colour combination. The bearded iris is Golden Panther and grows at the Amazing Iris Garden (No 5 on Places of Interest – see the official map) in Walford Rd. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The southern view from garden 8 in Omokoroa. Photo: Sandra Simpson

And if that wasn’t enough, here’s the view to the east with Mauao showing above the horizon. The large ceramic jug in front is by potter Murray Garner who is showing in this garden. Photo: Sandra Simpson