Clean sweep of rose trials

by Hayden Foulds

Tauranga rose breeder Rob Somerfield has swept the awards at the New Zealand Rose Society International Rose Trial Grounds in Palmerston North. This is the second year Mr Somerfield has taken all the awards presented, the first was in 2009 and both are the only occasions of a clean sweep taking place in the trials’ 47-year history.

Mr Somerfield was presented with the Gold Star of the South Pacific for Love Bug, the highest scoring rose in the trial. Described as a cardinal red rose with dark glossy foliage and a strong, vigorous growing plant, Love Bug wins Somerfield’s eighth Gold Star and confirms his place as New Zealand’s leading rose breeder.

love bug hayden - Copy

Rob Somerfield in the Palmerston North Trial Grounds with his award-winning rose Love Bug. Photo: Hayden Foulds

Certificates of Merit were presented to the pale yellow Night Light, the orange-red Tabasco and the apricot Strawberry Blonde. All of Mr Somerfield’s winning varieties will be released on to the New Zealand market in the next couple of years.

Strawberry-Blonde hayden

Strawberry Blonde was one of three Rob Somerfield roses to win a Certificate of Merit. Photo: Hayden Foulds

The New Zealand Rose Society trials test new varieties from New Zealand and international rose breeders and are assessed over two years by a panel of 20 judges with categories including freedom of flowering, health, plant quality, flower quality and fragrance. This year more than 40 entries were judged.

At the conclusion of each trial, those roses which have gained an average 70% are recognised with awards to reflect the consistently high performance they have achieved during trial – the Gold Star of the South Pacific goes to the highest-scoring rose.

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