Rose-planting time

The annual New Zealand Rose Review had arrived in my mailbox, courtesy of Hayden Foulds at the NZ Rose Society, and the garden centres are stocking up on plants, although over the holiday weekend just gone I heard one staff member say “head office has dropped a sale on us and our roses haven’t come in yet” as she forlornly surveyed the few plants on offer.

Christchurch Remembers, bred by Rob Somerfield, on sale in 2016-17. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The Rose Review is a great little publication that’s available to purchase ($8.50) from the Rose Society. It contains the winners of the Trial Ground Awards, the Pacific Rose Bowl Festival and the top 10 favourite roses as voted on by rose society members – but the real value for gardeners is in the rating of various freely available plants by rosarians around the country. My Mum, for example (a New Zealand-bred rose), is being grown by people in Kaitaia, Waikato, Manawatu, South Canterbury, Otago and Southland which covers a good many of the climate zones in New Zealand (it gets a pretty good review by everyone).

A vase of My Mum, a rose bred by Bob Matthews of Wanganui. Photo: Sandra Simpson

There’s also a summary of the roses that have been reported on for 5 years with, for example, Absolutely Fabulous (Julia Childs in the US) receiving 7.7 (very good) as a garden plant, 6.4 (average to good) as an exhibition flower, 7.8 (very good) for health and 5.1 (moderate) for fragrance. “Very healthy with brilliant repeat flowering and its only fault is that the blooms can fade.”

And finally, a short article on using roses in mixed garden plantings, including some lovely photos.

The top plants on the favourite rose lists, by the way, all retained their number one spots from last year Paddy Stephens (hybrid tea and health), Raspberry Ice (floribunda), Sally Holmes (modern shrub), Irresistible (miniature and patio), Dublin Bay (large-flowering climber), Dusky Dancer (small-flowering climber), Margaret Merrill (fragrant) and Jean Ducher (heritage).

I’ve listed the always-worthwhile rose pruning demonstration in Tauranga by Laurie Jeyes on the Events page (July 19), but there are demonstrations on all around the country over the next couple of months and the Rose Society has a list.

Picked up a copy of the Te Awamutu Courier of May 28 this week and read this letter to the editor: “Due to circumstances beyond our control, the Te Awamutu Rose Society has been wound up”. Goodness, that sounds … interesting. Te Awamutu likes to call itself ‘Rosetown’ and makes much of its public rose gardens so it seems sad that it can’t sustain a rose society (but that “circumstances beyond our control” makes it sound like there might be a bit more to it).

Pick of the bunch

The New Zealand Rose Review, put out by the NZ Rose Society, has this year collected information from 53 contributors about their favourite roses. Useful information to have at hand when you’re in a garden centre – and now is the best time to buy and plant a rose so that it’s well rooted in by the time spring arrives.

The  “Review of Newer Roses” section includes comments from growers in various parts of the country about particular positives and negatives they’ve noticed.


Dublin Bay, one of Sam McGredy’s most popular roses. Photo: Sandra Simpson

I won’t reproduce the full lists of favourites here, that’s hardly fair on the Rose Society which wants to sell copies of the Review, but will mention the top-ranked rose in each category.

Hybrid Tea: Paddy Stephens (top for the eleventh consecutive year). Floribunda: Raspberry Ice (top since 1991!). Modern Shrub: Sally Holmes. Miniature & Patio: Irresistible (top since 2000). Large-Flower Climber: Dublin Bay (27th consecutive year at number one). Small-Flower Climber: Dusky Dancer. Healthy: Paddy Stephens. Fragrant: Margaret Merrill. Heritage: Jean Ducher.