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

Clean sweep of rose trials

by Hayden Foulds

Tauranga rose breeder Rob Somerfield has swept the awards at the New Zealand Rose Society International Rose Trial Grounds in Palmerston North. This is the second year Mr Somerfield has taken all the awards presented, the first was in 2009 and both are the only occasions of a clean sweep taking place in the trials’ 47-year history.

Mr Somerfield was presented with the Gold Star of the South Pacific for Love Bug, the highest scoring rose in the trial. Described as a cardinal red rose with dark glossy foliage and a strong, vigorous growing plant, Love Bug wins Somerfield’s eighth Gold Star and confirms his place as New Zealand’s leading rose breeder.

love bug hayden - Copy

Rob Somerfield in the Palmerston North Trial Grounds with his award-winning rose Love Bug. Photo: Hayden Foulds

Certificates of Merit were presented to the pale yellow Night Light, the orange-red Tabasco and the apricot Strawberry Blonde. All of Mr Somerfield’s winning varieties will be released on to the New Zealand market in the next couple of years.

Strawberry-Blonde hayden

Strawberry Blonde was one of three Rob Somerfield roses to win a Certificate of Merit. Photo: Hayden Foulds

The New Zealand Rose Society trials test new varieties from New Zealand and international rose breeders and are assessed over two years by a panel of 20 judges with categories including freedom of flowering, health, plant quality, flower quality and fragrance. This year more than 40 entries were judged.

At the conclusion of each trial, those roses which have gained an average 70% are recognised with awards to reflect the consistently high performance they have achieved during trial – the Gold Star of the South Pacific goes to the highest-scoring rose.