Roses are, er, green

While chatting to rose breeder Rob Somerfield at the weekend I mentioned seeing his “green” rose in the NZ Rose Society trial grounds in Palmerston North early this year. Yes, he said, he had created a green rose – and it had only taken him 23 years to get there!

Last year a regional conference of the World Federation of Rose Societies was held in Palmerston North and naturally enough included a visit to the trial grounds. Rob’s green rose, with the breeding name Sompounamu, won the People’s Choice award as voted by conference delegates.

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The as-yet unnamed green rose bred by Rob Somerfield. The plant was photographed towards the end of its second flowering in pretty arid conditions. I’m publishing it because it gives an indication of colour. Photo: Sandra Simpson

“Lime buds open to lime-green blooms which deepen in colour as the blooms age. Small to medium grower with matt green foliage,” the trial grounds webpage says. “To be released in the near future.” Rob adds that it’s a good picking rose.

He is holding back a New Zealand release because he’s working towards a release in the United States, a market whose PVR rules demand it be there first “but it’s hard sitting on it”, he says.

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Lemon ‘n Lime. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The new plant is one of the parents of Lemon ‘n Lime, a yellow-green that won the Rose of the Year title for Rob at the Hamilton rose trials in 2011.

Meanwhile, look out for his new Little Miss Perfect in garden centres in November. “It grows very small but flowers like a floribunda – it’s a real patio rose that has large flowers.” Rob trades as Glenavon Roses.

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Rosa chinensis viridiflora. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Rosa chinensis viridiflora is commonly called the green rose and has been sold commercially in England since 1856, although is thought to have been in cultivation for maybe 100 years before that. The unusual little blooms are made of sepals rather than petals which means no pollen and no hips (so no hybridising). Read more here.

You may see images online of emerald-green roses, perfect blooms. There are also step-by-step instructions available on how to “create” such a bloom, which generally means standing the cut stem of a white rose in a container of green-coloured liquid!