Roses may be one of the world’s favourite flowers – and there’s a good reason for that. The blooms seem ultra-luxurious with their silky petals, come in many colours, even multicolours, and can have the most heavenly perfume. And when a garden is full of budding roses, is there anything more exciting? (I have a bias, as perhaps you can tell!)
Once upon a time you could only buy roses in New Zealand in winter with the bare-rooted, heavily pruned plants ready to go in the ground. But things change and with the buying public more likely to buy a plant in bloom, roses are now available in garden centres in spring and summer too.
The NZ Rose Society produces an annual Rose Review, a compilation of how various popular roses do in various places around the country, as well as National Trial Ground reports. The 2020 edition is sold out.
Tauranga rose breeder Rob Somerfield has come up with an unusual plant as one of his 2020 releases. Green with Envy was the NZ Rose Society’s Rose of the Month for October. “It is the culmination of 29 years of breeding by Rob to get a green rose good enough to release to the market,” Rose Review editor Hayden Foulds says.
The blooms, produced in large clusters, are lime-green with the colour intensifying as the flowers age, the opposite to the majority of rose blooms which fade with age. The flower lasts a long time either on the plant or in a vase, Hayden says, and would appeal to those who do floral work.
The plant won the People’s Choice Award at the 2013 NZ Rose Society International Rose Trials in Palmerston North.
Also long gone in most home gardens is the style of growing roses alone in beds. When Te Puna Quarry Park volunteer Ruth Dainty took over the Heritage Rose Garden, she decided to surround the roses with annuals and perennials in a bid to cover the fact that many of the old roses flower only once.
“They’re not very interesting before or after they flower,” she says of the roses, “so this garden was filled with colour only for a very short space of time. The other plants I’ve put in help extend the season.”
Ruth has grown many of the plants herself from cuttings and seeds.
Heritage Roses NZ is continuing work on its Rose Register, which aims to record all the roses brought into the country from the earliest days of settlement until, for hybrid teas,1945. Read more here.
Katherine Mansfield, one of New Zealand’s greatest writers, has a rose named for her that was released by the famous French nursery Meilland in 1978 – known as Charles de Gaulle everywhere else in the world – so it seems only fitting to close with a KM quote or two.
The tea roses are in flower. Do you know the peculiar exquisite scent of a tea rose? Do you know how the bud opens – so unlike other roses, and how deep red the thorns are and almost purple the leaves?
– From a letter written at the Isola Bella villa in Menton, France, dated November 10, 1920
As for the roses, you could not help feeling they understood that roses are the only flowers that impress people at garden parties; the only flowers that everyone is certain of knowing. Hundreds, yes, literally hundreds, had come out in a single night; the green bushes bowed down as though they had been visited by archangels.
– From The Garden Party, published 1922