National Rose Trial winners

By Hayden Foulds

The weekend was a good one for Palmerston North rose breeder John Ford, who scooped the main awards at the New Zealand Rose Society International Rose Trial Grounds in Palmerston North.

His rose ‘Bright Eyes’ won the Gold Star of the South Pacific for the highest score across the trial, the Silver Star of the City of Palmerston North for the highest score by a New Zealand amateur rose breeder, and the Nola Simpson Novelty Award.

Bright Eyes rose, bred by John Ford of Palmerston North. Photo: Hayden Foulds

Mr Ford, who is the chairman of the Trial Grounds Committee, was “blown away” with the success of the rose which has clusters of light mauve blooms with a dark pink ‘eye’ in the centre. Winning the Nola Simpson award was the icing on the cake – the late rose breeder was his aunt and encouraged Mr Ford’s interest in roses from an early age.

High Fashion rose, bred by Rob Somerfield of Tauranga. Photo: Hayden Foulds

Certificates of Merit were presented to Tauranga rose breeder Rob Somerfield of Glenavon Roses for the pink ‘Smart Choice’ and the pink/red ‘High Fashion’. Whanganui rose breeder Bob Matthews of Matthews Nurseries also received a Certificate of Merit for his yellow ‘Valerie Webster’ and collected awards for overseas breeders Colin Dickson of Northern Ireland with the light pink climber ‘Checkmate’ and Christian Bedard of the United States with the yellow ‘Sparkle & Shine’. 

‘Valerie Webster’ is already on the market in New Zealand while the other winners will be released in the year or two. 

Valerie Webster rose, bred by Bob Matthews of Whanganui. Photo: Hayden Foulds

The New Zealand Rose Society trials, now into their 50th year, test new varieties from New Zealand and international rose breeders and are judged over two years by a panel of 20 judges who assess freedom of flowering, health, plant quality, flower quality and fragrance.

At the end of each trial, those roses which have gained an average of 70% are recognised with awards reflecting the consistently high performance they have achieved during trial.

Unfortunately, the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the trials was disrupted by Covid-19 and many events have been postponed to 2021, including the hosting of the National Rose Show and the publication of a book on the trials history.

However, the anniversary was marked at the weekend by the cutting of a 50th anniversary cake by Mr Ford and Palmerston North Mayor Grant Smith.

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!

This & that

Sorry to report that gardener and sculptor Terry Parker has passed away recently. In 2012 I visited the garden he and wife Margaret had created from an unpromising site of gorse and “other rubbish” and which they had named “Pig’s Ear Park”.


Terry Parker with his stone carving of St Fiacre, patron saint of gardeners. Photo: Sandra Simpson

They were opening their 2ha country garden for the biennial Tauranga Garden and Artfest in 2012, the last time they were doing so as Margaret was facing a period of treatment for ill health and Terry was just going through the diagnosis process.

He good-humouredly described himself then as  “the donkey” when it came to the garden. “Put it in, take it out … that’s a tree.”

Terry, a former member of the Royal Navy in Britain, took up sculpting in the 1970s and eventually worked in stone, wood and recycled materials. One of his pieces in the garden was of St Fiacre, the Irish saint who lived in France, and is patron saint of gardeners (and cab drivers in Paris).

When I was in Palmerston North around New Year I dropped in at the national Rose Trial grounds to catch up with the winners of the most recent awards, given out in November as part of the regional conference of the World Federation of Rose Societies (the roses generally aren’t named at this stage).

Gold Star of the South Pacific (rose of the year): A red rose bred by David Kenny of Ireland. Mr Kenny is an amateur breeder.

Certificates of Merit: Rob Somerfield of Te Puna won two for two different roses.

Nola Simpson Novelty Award (the first time the award has been given): Chris Warner of England for Bright as a Button, a pink floribunda with a darker centre.

The major results from the national rose show, held at the convention:

Champion of champions decorative miniature: Glowing Amber shown by Derrol and Helen White (Whangarei). Champion of champions large rose: Reflections shown by Janice Walker. The rose was bred by the late Nola Simpson of Palmerston North.

The Groups listing has been updated to reflect the fact that Tauranga has lost its branch of the Cactus and Succulent Society. The group decided to close at the end of last year, demoralised by not being able to attract new, younger members.