NZ Rose Trial Results 2019

By Hayden Foulds

A rose named for the breeder’s mother topped the list of awards presented at the New Zealand Rose Society International Rose Trial Grounds in Palmerston North earlier this month.

Tauranga rose breeder Rob Somerfield, from Rob Somerfield Roses, topped the trials with his ‘Grandma’s Rose’ which won the Gold Star of the South Pacific, the top award at the trial grounds. “The name is a tribute to my mother from her grandchildren, they felt it was her colour,” Rob said.

Grandma’s Rose, bred by Rob Somerfield, is the winner of the 2019 Gold Star of the South Pacific. Photo: Hayden Foulds

Rob, who also did well at the Pacific Rose Bowl Festival in November, also received a Certificate of Merit for the cream variety ‘Old Friends’. Both his roses will be introduced to the market in the next couple of years.

Berry Nice, bred by Bob Matthews of Whanganui, received a Certificate of Merit. Photo: Matthews Nurseries

Certificates of Merit were also awarded to the magenta pink ‘Berry Nice’ bred by Bob Matthews of Matthews Nurseries Ltd in Whanganui and to the yellow ‘Lemon Ruffles’, bred by Canadian breeder Brad Jalbert and entered by Amore Roses of Hamilton. This is the first time a Canada-bred rose has won an award at the trials. Both these varieties are already on the market in New Zealand.

The New Zealand Rose Society trials are now into their 49th year and test new varieties from New Zealand and international rose breeders and are assessed over 2 years by a panel of 20 judges who mark for such as freedom of flowering, health, plant quality, flower quality and fragrance.

At the conclusion of each trial, those roses which have gained an average of 70% are recognised with awards and reflect the consistently high performance that they have achieved during the trial period.

In 2020, the trials celebrate their 50th anniversary and a number of activities and events are planned to mark this occasion, including the National Rose Show being held in Palmerston North, the naming of a new rose for the city and the publication of a book on the rose trials.

Strawberry fair

If it’s December in New Zealand, it’s strawberry season! Backyards, balconies, decks … all sorts of corners and growing containers are put into service. The Vege Grower has covered his raised bed with soft netting to keep the birds out (although has relented with the fig tree and allowed some branches to grow through the netting ‘so we share with the birds’) and we’ve already had a few feeds off the plants.

If you don’t grow them yourself there are still berry farms, sadly reducing in number, where you can go to pick your own, always fun with children!

When I was in Japan, early in spring there, this year, my eye was caught by some of the ‘different’ strawberries on sale – white and pink, as well as the more usual red.

These white strawberries (front) were for sale in the Takashiyama department store in Tokyo. The price on the sticker equates to $NZ38 – for seven strawberries! Photo: Sandra Simpson

According to this 2017 article, the most expensive white strawberry is White Jewel (Shiroi Houseki), bred by Yasuhito Teshima and put on the market in 2013. But even with its specialised breeding that eliminates the protein that makes ripe strawberries red, the fruit also needs to be grown correctly for it to remain completely white with reduced exposure to light being key. But Yasuhito Teshima says that even after years of trial and error, it’s pretty much still a lottery with only 10% of his strawberries turning out white, and only a few of those being perfectly pale.

Here’s a 2017 video featuring Mr Teshima talking about his strawberries (subtitled).

Gift giving is the social oil of Japan and, with space in homes generally at a premium, the best sort of gift to receive is a consumable – which is where rare and unusual fruit comes into its own.

Nara Strawberry Lab is a co-operative of young growers. This pack offers red, pink and white fruit. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Setting off for our hanami (picnic under the flowering cherry trees) meant a stop at Shinjuku’s Takashiyama department store and the amazing – and extensive – basement food hall. I was intrigued by the sight of fruit and cream sandwiches, so much so that we bought a strawberry one to try. It wasn’t terrible!

Sweet sandwiches – strawberries and cream or mandarins and cream. The strawberry sandwich is about $NZ6 for two halves. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Sowing the seed

With all the garden festivals, trails and events on just now, it was interesting to hear about some of the changes on the way for next year’s Bay of Plenty Garden & Art Festival (November 19-22) at a recent ‘soft launch’.

The popular festival hub, aka Bloom in the Bay – previously at the Historic Village and before that The Lakes – is on the move once again and next year will be at Tauranga Racecourse making use of the buildings (eg, for the Long Lunch and a festival gallery where every artist in the programme is represented by one work) and the grounds for concept gardens.

A quiet corner in a central Tauranga garden that was open in 2018. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Two new awards have been mooted, one for landscape design and one for an emerging artist.Festival director Marc Anderson would like to see the winning landscape design built, but that’s still at the wish-list stage. He also mentioned that the art award was for any early-career artist, regardless of age, and that the winner would be exhibited on the garden trails.

The new Te Puke postal centre and visitor information centre (Te Manawa) will be the site for a garden competition with the a difference – gardens will be constructed on the backs of small trucks/utes or in car boots. Marc said he’d love to see entrants in a procession to the Racecourse but didn’t know how hard that would be on the gardens!

For anyone whose garden hasn’t quite made the grade for 2020, but where the assessors can see potential, there is a new mentor scheme, hopefully bringing new gardens into each festival. Gardeners will work with landscape designer Celia Laity, who has recently moved to the Bay of Plenty.

And a suggested cycling trail is to be included for Te Puna-area gardens.

Part of the fun of a garden festival is not knowing what you might find – these are the flowers of an ooray tree (Davidsonia puriens), native to tropical Queensland. The plum-like fruit have been a favourite with the indigenous people for thousands of years. Photo: Sandra Simpson

It was great to see so many familiar gardening faces at the event – people who have been opening their plots since the first festival in 2001, some who’ve had a festival off and are returning and some who are opening their garden for the first time. They were rightly applauded for their generosity, especially, as one gardener said, it’s 2 years of hard work to have it right for those few days.

Figures quoted suggested a value to the community of $1.453 million, with 29,000 visitors attending the 2018 festival (a few over 10,000 tickets sold) – 36.5% from Tauranga and the Western Bay; 33% from the rest of the Bay of Plenty; 14% from Waikato; 14.5% from the rest of New Zealand and 2% from overseas, a figure Marc would like to see increase.

National Rose Show 2019

The Waikato Rose Society last weekend hosted the New Zealand Rose Show, held in Hamilton Gardens where the Pacific Rosebowl Festival also took place.The blooms were truly magnificent.

Champion exhibition bloom was Sylvia, grown by Janice Walker of Northland and bred in the Kordes nursery (Germany). Photo: Sandra Simpson
Champion large stem, mini-type rose was Irresistible, grown by Irene Taylor of Waikato and bred by Dee Bennett of the US. Photo: Sandra Simpson
Champion small stem, mini-type rose was Luis Desamero, named for a Californian rosarian. This rose was also grown by Irene Taylor. Photo: Sandra Simpson
Champion decorative bloom was Joan Monica, grown by Janet Pike of Waikato. This rose was created by amateur breeder Brian Attfield of Cambridge, so an all-round local win. Photo: Sandra Simpson
Champion of champions mini-type rose and Champion fully open bloom, mini-type was the charming Dinky Pinky, grown by Irene Taylor of Waikato and bred by Patrick Dickson of the UK. Photo: Sandra Simpson
Champion of Champions was Reflections, grown by Sheree Gare of Waikato. This rose was bred by Nola Simpson of Manawatu. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Champion fully open bloom was Hamilton Gardens (bred by Sam McGredy), grown by Jan Lusty of Waikato, while Champion exhibition bloom, mini-type was Chelsea Belle, grown by Janet Pike of Waikato, and bred by Peter and Kay Taylor of the United States.

Champion large stem of roses was Natalie Ann, grown by Violet Forshaw of Northland. Photo: Sandra Simpson
Champion display vase, mini-type was the striking Glowing Amber, grown by Sheree Gare of Waikato, and bred by George Mander of Canada. Photo: Sandra Simpson
Champion decorative bloom, mini-type was Forshaw, grown by (drum-roll) Violet Forshaw of Northland. This patio rose was bred by Rob Somerfield of Tauranga. Photo: Sandra Simpson
Champion display vase was this drop-dead collection of Southern Beauty blooms, grown by Janet Walker of Northland. This is another New Zealand rose, bred by John Ford of Manawatu (Nola Simpson’s nephew). Photo: Sandra Simpson

Apologies to the growers and the show if I’ve missed anything out. The Champions table was full of certificates, sashes and flowers but hopefully, I’ve got it right. Amazing to note that all the winning growers are women and so many of the roses have been bred in New Zealand!

Pacific Rosebowl Festival 2019

Today I was pleased to join the invited judges in the Rogers Rose Garden for the final day of voting in the Pacific Rosebowl Festival, the 18th held since the festival moved from Auckland to Hamilton.

At the awards presentation festival trustee and MC Pippa Mahood paid tribute to Hamilton Gardens’ director Peter Sergel, her fellow festival trustees, head gardener Alice Gwilliam (the rose gardens were a credit to her and her team), the NZ Rose Society (which was holding its national show in the next-door hall), festival director Emma Reynolds and her colleague Maddy Barnsdall.

And, of course, she got us a bit misty-eyed with mention of the late, great rose breeder Sam McGredy, who passed away just a few months ago and helped initiate the Rosebowl Festival in Auckland then assisted the move to Hamilton, always attending the annual awards. “The Auckland Botanic Gardens said having the festival move was the best thing that ever happened to their garden, and the sentiment was the same for us,” Peter Sergel said. “Sam’s mana and presence were an immeasurable part of its success here.”

The McGredy family was represented by Sam’s three daughters – Katherine, Maria and Clodagh – and several ‘grandies’, with news shared of Sam’s newest great-granddaughter, Molly, just a few days old.

Everlasting Hope. Photo: Sandra Simpson

New Zealand Rose of the Year, Best NZ-raised Rose & Best Shrub Rose: Everlasting Hope, bred by Rob Somerfield (Te Puna, near Tauranga) and named for the Canterbury branch of the Post-natal Depression Trust. It was released last year. Click here to visit Rob’s website.

Diamond Design. Photo: Rob Somerfield Roses

Best Hybrid Tea Rose: Diamond Design, bred by Rob Somerfield. Released in 2012.

Skyla Rose. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Best Floribunda Rose & Most Fragrant Rose: Skyla Rose bred by Rob Somerfield. Released this year, the rose was named for 7-year-old Skyla Rose Keating who died of a rare form of brain cancer in 2017.

Woollerton Old Hall. Photo: David Austin Roses.

Best Climbing Rose: Woollerton Old Hall, bred by David Austin and released in Britain in 2011. It’s named for a magnificent garden in the UK, developed by its owners and open to the public.

Midsummer. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Children’s Choice Award: Midsummer, bred by Tantau (Germany) and released in 2008.

The Somerfield family were out in force to celebrate Rob’s successes at the Pacific Rosebowl Festival, from left, Rob’s wife Linda, his mum Valerie, dad Richard, Rob, and his daughters Amanda and Kate. Kneeling in front is Kate’s partner David Wright. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Out & About

Apologies for the lack of regular posts recently but this year’s Tauranga Arts Festival absorbed a lot of my energy and intelligence – so much so that last week (the week after the festival finished) I found myself doing some odd things as my brain decided to have some R&R!

So it’s been nice to visit a couple of lovely Tauranga area gardens in the last fortnight and meet some new (to me) plants.

Lewisia cotyledon is a succulent native to southern Oregon and northern California. Photo: Sandra Simpson

First up is the very pretty succulent Lewisia cotyledon (also known as Siskiyou Lewisia) which grows in rocky, subalpine habitat in its native setting. Don’t feed it too much and give it a free-draining situation, particularly for winter, and it will do well in most situations. And because of where it’s found in the wild, it’s a good plant for rockeries or stone walls – see some lovely photos on the website of Ashwood Nurseries in the UK.

A member of the so-called bitterroot family, Lewisia cotyledon was among the 178 plant species collected by Meriwether Lewis in the early 19th century as he explored the western United States with his partner William Clark and a group of army volunteers. The bitterroot name came from the fact that although the root of L. rediviva is edible, it’s very bitter until it’s been cooked thoroughly. The plant gave its name to Montana’s Bitterroot Mountains, Bitterroot River, and Bitterroot Valley – and is the official state flower.

Throughout the more than 4,000-mile (6437km) journey, Lewis recorded, pressed and preserved some 240 different plant species and took them back to Washington DC, along with hundreds of animal and bird skins and skeletons. Read more about Lewis and his botany, and/or watch an interview here.

In New Zealand, Egmont Seeds stock Lewisia Elise, part of the same family.

Parochetus communis is also known as blue oxalis or shamrock pea. Photo: Sandra Simpson

This gardener has some very unusual oxalis plants (all potted) so although this isn’t strictly speaking an oxalis (it’s a creeper), its leaf form means it fits well with the collection. Parochetus communis is native to the mountains of Asia and tropical Africa and although this gardener has it in a pot, the plant has been naturalised in New Zealand since 1944.

In the second garden I was pointed in the direction of Podophyllum ‘Kaleidoscope’, a rare and unusual large-leafed plant with a secret underneath – crimson-black flowers!

Growing this plant in shade enriches its leaf markings. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Podophyllum is a deciduous woodland plant that prefers moist, free-draining soils rich in organic material (this gardener has it in a pot). Protect from frosts. There is one species from eastern North America and five from Asia.

The dramatic flowers hang underneath the equally dramatic leaves. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Read a great blog entry about Padophyllums by Dan Heims, president and guiding spirit behind Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc, writing for the Pacific Horticulture Society (US).

Royal NZ Institute of Horticulture Awards

The RNZIH has been kind enough to send a copy of its mid-year journal containing the 2019 awards.

Garden History Award: Annemarie Endt-Ferwerda, who has published at least seven booklets and books on horticultural topics. She and her late husband, Dick Endt, established the Landsendt garden in west Auckland, today run by their daughter. Read a 2012 profile of the property and about a family of three generations of plantspeople. The garden is no longer open to the public.

Plant Raisers’ Award: Ian Duncalf, former owner of Parva Plants and a former international director of the International Plant Propagators Society, of Te Puna (near Tauranga). His breeding and selection work includes Agapanthus Thunder Storm, Agapanthus Finn, Alstroemeria Rock & Roll, Clivia Barbara, Clivia Deanna, Clivia Lydia, Eucomis Tiny Piny Opal and Eucomis Tiny Piny Ruby. His introductions include Bergenia Marshmallow, Galtonia Moonbeam and Gazania rigens Takatu Red.

Fellows of the RNZIH:
Chris Webb of Thames/Paeroa, a member of many horticultural groups and a member of the RNZIH since 2001.
Malcolm Woolmore of Auckland, a former international director of the International Plant Propagators Society, and founder of Lyndale Custom Mix Ltd (wholesale bulk potting mixes), Lyndale Intellectual Property Ltd (dealing with plant variety rights, PVR) and KiwiFlora Ltd. He has been responsible for the production and distribution of 100 million young plants in New Zealand. Since 2002 he has been a member of the National Pest Plant Accord.
Nicola Rochester, regional sales manager for ICL and actively involved in the RNZIH Education Trust (since 2005) and Young Horticulturalist Competition (since 2003).

Associates of Honour of the RNZIH (limited to 60 people at any one time):
Dr Marion MacKay, senior lecturer in environmental management at Massey University, specialising in plant diversity and conservation. A member of the Pukeiti Rhododendron Trust board since 2004 and author of the 2011 book, Plants of Pukeiti Forest. Marion is a founder, and leader, of the NZ Rhododendron ex situ Conservation Project and is a member of the steering committee of the Global Rhododendron Conservation Consortium. In 2013 she was appointed to the NZ Indigenous Flora Seed Bank project. She has been a Fellow of the RNZIH since 1997.
Professor Helen Leach, emeritus professor of anthropology at Otago University, specialising in culinary anthropology and the domestication of food plants. Her most outstanding book (of 22 published) is still 1000 Years of Gardening in New Zealand, published in 1984. She has been a Fellow of the RNZIH since 2004 and in 2018 was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to culinary anthropology. Read a 2016 food profile here.