A Garden of NZ Roses

As we sink gently further into autumn my roses are definitely past their best but I’ve stopped dead-heading to give them a rest before pruning. However, the lower part of the South Island is a bit behind our warmer climate so it was with delight that last month I found Queenstown Botanical Gardens flush with roses, admittedly not the pristine blooms of early summer but holding out against the dying of the light and still attractive.

The other charming thing to discover about the garden is that all the beds feature roses that were either bred in New Zealand or have a New Zealand connection.

Wise Woman, bred by Bob Matthews of Whanganui, was named to mark the 2004 centenary of midwifery registration in New Zealand. Photo: Sandra Simpson
Scent to Remember was released by Rob Somerfield of Tauranga in 2006 as a Hospice NZ fundraiser. Photo: Sandra Simpson
Aotearoa – known as New Zealand everywhere else – was released by Sam McGredy in 1990 to mark this country’s 150th anniversary. Photo: Sandra Simpson
Nelson Girls was bred by Chris Warner of England and named in 2006 by importer Tasman Bay Roses to mark the 125th anniversary of the school. In Australia, it’s known as Serenity. Photo: Sandra Simpson
Kate Sheppard was released in 1993 to mark the centenary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The Kate Sheppard rose was bred by George Sherwood of Manawatu when he started his hobby and of Taranaki when this 2012 interview was conducted. George, a J-Force veteran, died on March 2 this year. He named it for the woman who spearheaded the movement to win New Zealand women the vote.

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.

Celebrating roses

Roses may be one of the world’s favourite flowers – and there’s a good reason for that. The blooms seem ultra-luxurious with their silky petals, come in many colours, even multicolours, and can have the most heavenly perfume. And when a garden is full of budding roses, is there anything more exciting? (I have a bias, as perhaps you can tell!)

Freshly planted roses in Bergen, on the west coast of Norway (the statue is of Bergen-born composer Edvard Grieg). This was midsummer, still cool and damp – the municipal gardeners were putting in plants that had been brought into bloom elsewhere. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Once upon a time you could only buy roses in New Zealand in winter with the bare-rooted, heavily pruned plants ready to go in the ground. But things change and with the buying public more likely to buy a plant in bloom, roses are now available in garden centres in spring and summer too.

The NZ Rose Society produces an annual Rose Review, a compilation of how various popular roses do in various places around the country, as well as National Trial Ground reports. The 2020 edition is sold out.

Green with Envy is a striking new release from Tauranga rose breeder Rob Somerfield. Photo: Glenavon Roses

Tauranga rose breeder Rob Somerfield has come up with an unusual plant as one of his 2020 releases. Green with Envy was the NZ Rose Society’s Rose of the Month for October. “It is the culmination of 29 years of breeding by Rob to get a green rose good enough to release to the market,” Rose Review editor Hayden Foulds says.

The blooms, produced in large clusters, are lime-green with the colour intensifying as the flowers age, the opposite to the majority of rose blooms which fade with age. The flower lasts a long time either on the plant or in a vase, Hayden says, and would appeal to those who do floral work. 

The plant won the People’s Choice Award at the 2013 NZ Rose Society International Rose Trials in Palmerston North.

Ruth Dainty (background) at work in the Heritage Rose Garden. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Also long gone in most home gardens is the style of growing roses alone in beds. When Te Puna Quarry Park volunteer Ruth Dainty took over the Heritage Rose Garden, she decided to surround the roses with annuals and perennials in a bid to cover the fact that many of the old roses flower only once.

“They’re not very interesting before or after they flower,” she says of the roses, “so this garden was filled with colour only for a very short space of time. The other plants I’ve put in help extend the season.”

Ruth has grown many of the plants herself from cuttings and seeds.

Full of promise – the Heritage Rose Garden at the Quarry Park. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Heritage Roses NZ is continuing work on its Rose Register, which aims to record all the roses brought into the country from the earliest days of settlement until, for hybrid teas,1945. Read more here.

Katherine Mansfield, one of New Zealand’s greatest writers, has a rose named for her that was released by the famous French nursery Meilland in 1978 – known as Charles de Gaulle everywhere else in the world – so it seems only fitting to close with a KM quote or two.

The tea roses are in flower. Do you know the peculiar exquisite scent of a tea rose? Do you know how the bud opens – so unlike other roses, and how deep red the thorns are and almost purple the leaves?
– From a letter written at the Isola Bella villa in Menton, France, dated November 10, 1920

As for the roses, you could not help feeling they understood that roses are the only flowers that impress people at garden parties; the only flowers that everyone is certain of knowing. Hundreds, yes, literally hundreds, had come out in a single night; the green bushes bowed down as though they had been visited by archangels.
– From The Garden Party, published 1922

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.

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

Name a Rose Competition

In 2020, the New Zealand Rose Society International Trial Ground in Palmerston North – the oldest rose trials in the Southern Hemisphere – celebrates 50 years and to celebrate the Mayor of Palmerston North, Grant Smith, has commissioned a new rose to be named for the city. 

Name this rose! Photo: Hayden Foulds

Donated by its breeder, Rob Somerfield, the medium-growing Hybrid Tea has well-formed blooms of golden yellow with an orange flush to the outer petals. The blooms are slightly fragrant and last well when picked. It is very healthy with glossy green foliage.

There will be a limited first release of the rose at the 2020 National Spring Rose Show and Convention (November 28 and 29) in Palmerston North, which will also celebrate 50 years of the rose trials.

The name of the rose should capture the city that was once known as New Zealand’s Rose City.  The person who comes up with the winning name will receive six different rose varieties bred by Rob Somerfield, including one plant of the competition rose. 

Enter online, post your rose name(s) along with your contact details to Hayden Foulds, 40 Gordon St, Woodville 4920 or email them to Hayden.

The competition closes on September 31 with the winning name announced at the 2019 Rose Trial awards presentation on Sunday, December 1 in Palmerston North.

Terms and Conditions: The prize will consist of six rose plants donated by Rob Somerfield, including one of the competition rose. Plants will be supplied bare root in winter 2020. The prize cannot be redeemed for cash. The winner consents to their name being used for publicity purposes. As the prize cannot be sent overseas, entries will be accepted only from New Zealand residents. 

Names: Names must be three words or less, must not be similar to commercially grown rose varieties in New Zealand, and must not be names of persons or businesses, real or fictional. nor any trademarks.

The winning rose name will be selected by a committee consisting of one representative from the Manawatu Rose Society, one representative from Palmerston North City Council and Rob Somerfield. The committee reserves the right to not use any name entered. The committee reserves the right to modify any submitted name to make it more suitable for the rose.

Recent honours

Val Burrell, of Te Puke, has been made a Member of the NZ Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to the community and horticulture in the 2019 New Year Honours List.

As well as being active with the NZ Women’s Institute for 57, at local, regional and national levels, Val has also been involved with the National Dahlia Society for 33 years and has been northern secretary, national secretary/treasurer, and privacy officer.

She has been national treasurer since 2010 and over the years has assisted with producing the society’s magazine and various fundraising efforts. Her 40-year involvement with the Floral Art Society of New Zealand has included being regional and local treasurer.

Her husband, Peter Burrell, is a well-known breeder of dahlias, claiming he only got involved because he was driving Val to shows.

Fiona Hyland of Dunedin was recognised with the World Rose Award for services to the rose at this year’s World Rose Convention in Denmark in July.

Fiona is a long-standing member of Heritage Roses New Zealand and has an impressive record as an editor, researcher and speaker at a local, national and international level. She has a strong interest in the collection of heritage roses at the Dunedin Northern Cemetery and played a key role in Dunedin’s 2005 hosting of the International Heritage Roses Conference.

Fiona has edited booklets featuring the writings of well-known NZ Heritage Rose experts Nancy Steen and Ken Nobbs, been editor of the quarterly Heritage Roses NZ journal, and was also editor of the electronic journal for the World Federation of Rose Societies from 2006–2010.

An Award of Garden Excellence was given to the Christchurch Botanic Gardens at the same convention. The Central Rose Garden dates from 1910 and the Heritage Rose Garden from 1952 (redesigned in 1999). Read more here.

Derek and Jenny Beard from the Western Bay of Plenty Camellia Society won Grand Champion and Best Hybrid at this year’s NZ Camellia Show in August with Jamie, an Australian hybrid. Derek and Jenny won a total of 10 first places,  four seconds and one third.

Kawerau arborist Scott Forrest was last month named the nation’s best tree climber for the fifth time, at the NZ Arboriculture Association Husqvarna National Tree Climbing Championships (NTCC) in Dunedin. After his win he gave away his haul of prize gear to his fellow competitors.

Scott won the same national title in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2016, and won the International Tree Climbing Championships (ITCC) in 2011, 2013 and 2014. His Dunedin win qualifies him for next year’s ITCC in the US.

2018 Pacific Rose Bowl winners at the Rogers Rose Garden in Hamilton in November: NZ Rose of the Year & Best Floribunda: Little Miss Perfect, bred by Rob Somerfield (Tauranga). Best NZ-raised Rose & Children’s Choice Award: Strawberry Blonde, bred by Rob Somerfield. Best Hybrid Tea & Most Fragrant: Hi Ho Silver, bred by Mike Athy (Gisborne). Best Climbing Rose:
Lady of Shallot, bred by David Austin (England). Best Shrub Rose: Rhapsody in Blue, bred by Frank Cowlishaw (England).

2018 NZ Rose Trials Awards

By Hayden Foulds

The annual New Zealand Rose Society International Rose Trial Ground awards were announced in Palmerston North at the beginning of December.

Tauranga rose breeder Rob Somerfield (Glenavon Roses) took the top prize –
the Gold Star of the South Pacific – with Ladies Night, which has pink blooms ageing to cerise. 

Rob Somerfield with Ladies Night at the trial grounds in Palmerston North. Photo: Hayden Foulds

Rob also received the World Federation of Rose Societies People’s Choice Award for the orange-red Amanda’s Choice, and Certificates of Merit for the pink French Connection and apricot Champagne Breakfast.

Champagne Breakfast, bred by Rob Somerfield. Photo: Hayden Foulds

The other Certificate of Merit was presented to Whanganui rose breeder Bob Matthews (Matthews Nurseries Ltd) for the yellow My Dad – Bob is also the breeder of the coral-pink My Mum, and My Dad has been bred from that.

My Dad, bred by Bob Matthews. Photo: Hayden Foulds

The New Zealand Rose Society trials are now into their 48th year and test new varieties from New Zealand and international rose breeders. The trial roses are judged over a period of 2 years by a panel of 20 judges who assess such things as freedom of flowering, plant health, flower quality and fragrance.

At the conclusion of each 2-year 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.

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

Friday roundup

The 2018 New Zealand Rose Review is now available ($9.50 within NZ) and well worth a look. The publication pulls together reviews from various spots around the country – the plants are reviewed for 5 years before moving to the ‘final analysis’ section – offering gardeners some invaluable information before making a selection.

All seven reviewers – from Northland to South Canterbury – rate the white hybrid tea Pope John Paul II (released in 2006 by American breeder Dr Keith Zary) for its fragrance and speed of repeat flowering but three mention that a single drop of moisture will ruin the blooms.

2018 rose review

The cover shows Beach Hop, a new patio standard rose for 2018. Image: Courtesy of Hayden Foulds

All four reviewers (from Auckland to Otago) like the deep pink floribunda Caroline Bay (released in 2011 by Gisborne’s Mike Athy) for its floral display and good health, while two reviewers (of three) say the flowers of Tickled Pink (released in 2011 by Whanganui’s Bob Matthews) have weak necks.

The reviews also cover shrub roses, miniature and patio types and climbers, plus there are lists of favourite roses as chosen by NZ Rose Society members – Raspberry Ice has been the favourite floribunda for 26 years! An item of note on this list is that Iceberg has dropped off to be replaced by the Tauranga-bred Wild Cherry.

Paddy Stephens tops both the favourite HT (as she’s done for 14 years) and the healthiest rose lists.

Tauranga City Council is demanding $314 annual rent from Bayfair Community Garden, a group of volunteers who donate all their produce to the city’s Foodbank. However, one councillor is listening to the backlash and is now bleating (on her Facebook page, no less) that councillors didn’t look at who the 55 affected organisations were. They just passed the motion!

The Bayfair gardens run on the smell of an oily tag – and sometimes even less than that – and good on Jo Stock, the indefatigable co-ordinator, for not wanting to a donor to pay the rent. “It feels unethical to me to accept money from donors and give it straight to the council.”

Reports this week on studies in France reveal an alarming decline in bird numbers in farming areas – populations hit by large areas of monoculture (encouraged by EU policy) and a dramatic fall in insect numbers.

The Guardian article says that despite the French government aspiring to halve pesticide use by 2020, sales have climbed, according to EU figures.

“All birds are dependant on insects in one way or another,” said Dr Benoit Fontaine, co-author of one of the studies. “Even granivorous birds feed their chicks insects and birds of prey eat birds that eat insects. If you lose 80% of what you eat you cannot sustain a stable population.”

Whanganui Regional Museum curator of natural history Mike Dickison last year spoke to Jesse Mulligan on Radio NZ about how in the last decade or two there are many fewer dead insects on our car windscreens and in radiators and why that is. Listen to the 13-minute interview.

And if anyone would like to buy the Australian Landscape Conference, it’s for sale! Warwick and Sue Forge say this year’s event (March 23-27 in Melbourne) will likely be their last.

“From our first conference in 2002, they have grown steadily with the range of speakers, workshops, delegates and in many other ways. Attendances now range from 650 to 750 delegates from Australia and overseas. Overseas speakers tell us the conference is without equal anywhere in the world.”

I attended the last one held in New Zealand and the following one in Melbourne and can vouch for the quality of the event.