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.

2017 Pacific Rosebowl Winners

You know what they say about making plans? Something along the lines of Robbie Burns’ gang aft agley … Thrilled to have been invited to judge at yesterday’s Pacific Rosebowl Festival in Hamilton but the Norovirus that made itself known on Friday night put paid to that. Finally back on my feet today, although still tired (The Vege Grower and The Lawn Mower both went down with it last night, despite our best efforts to contain it to me and Visiting Daughter).

So it was lovely to have a message from Emma Reynolds, the festival director, with a list of the beautiful roses that took out this year’s prizes.

New Zealand Rose of the Year; Children’s Choice Award: Best Wishes (yellow), bred by Colin Dickson (Northern Ireland). Best New Zealand-Raised Rose: Little Miss Perfect (coral), bred by Rob Somerfield (Te Puna, Tauranga). Best Hybrid Tea Rose; Most Fragrant Rose (tie): St Margaret’s Gold (pink/yellow), bred by Tantau (Germany). Most Fragrant Rose (tie): Magnifi-scent (red), bred by Brad Jalbert (Canada). Best Climbing Rose: All My Love (pink), bred by Doug Grant (Pukekohe, Auckland). Best Floribunda Rose: Scott Base (white), bred by Rob Somerfield (Te Puna). Best Shrub Rose: Strawberry Hill (pink), bred by David Austin (England).

How nice to see a yellow rose as the winner!

Best Wishes is available to order from Matthews Nurseries (Whanganui) and is described as “a stunning display of deep rich yellow flowers on a plant that is super healthy and quick to repeat. Upright growth to 1.4m.”

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St Margaret’s Gold. Image: Tasman Nurseries

Another rose in yellow tones took out the Best Hybrid Tea and tied for the Most Fragrant award – St Margaret’s Gold is a sport of Hayley Westenra. The rose is available to order through Tasman Nurseries (Nelson).

Rose breeder honoured

Tauranga area rose breeder Rob Somerfield has added another major honour to his cabinet with a Plant Raisers’ Award from the Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture.

Presented with the medal at last month’s combined conference of the RNZIH and the International Plant Propagators Society, Rob’s award was for four of his roses – Scent to Remember, Pacific Glory, Looking Good and Christchurch Remembers.

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Rob Somerfield and the produce from one of his trial beds. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The award is granted to a nominated person or organisation “who has raised in New Zealand a cultivar considered to be sufficiently meritorious”, according to the RNZIH website. Plants need to have been in cultivation for at least 3 years, to have been bred from seed (ie, not a sport) and to have been registered with an international authority.

“I don’t do it to get recognised,” Rob said today of his breeding efforts. “So I was quite shocked when I got a call from [RNZIH president] Keith Hammett. This one is important because it’s your peers voting.”

Rob was surprised to be told by Hayden Foulds of the NZ Rose Society that he had released 33 roses. “I didn’t think it would be so many.”

Past recipients of the Plant Raisers’ Award include Terry Dowdeswell (delphiniums, 2016), Peter Cave (magnolias, 2009), Mark Jury (magnolias, camellias and rhododendrons, 2007) and Jack Hobbs (hebes and leptospermums, 1990). Read the full list of awards.

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Christchurch Remembers, bred by Rob Somerfield. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Rob, 56, has been “tinkering” with roses since 1983, turning his hobby into a business in 1998 on the back of his first commercial release, Blackberry Nip which that year won the Silver Star award at the National Rose Trial grounds in Palmerston North – the highest award for an amateur breeder. The trials are for roses that have not been commercially released in New Zealand with assessment taking place over 2 years.

“It’s hard being a nobody and trying to release a rose,” he says. “If I hadn’t had Blackberry Nip and then had a follow up [Kaimai Sunset] that was also accepted well I may not have made it. It’s almost unheard of that a breeder’s first rose is a big success.”

Since then, Rob’s Glenavon Roses, based at Te Puna near Tauranga, has won the trial’s top award six times, footing it with names such as Harkness (UK), Dickson (Northern Ireland), Delbard (France) and Carruth (US).

“When I release a rose I honestly don’t get that excited,” he says. “It’s nice to have done it, and it’s nice when they win awards, but every rose represents 10 years’ work. By the time it comes on the market I’m well on to the next thing.”

He still has a way to go to be crowned New Zealand’s most successful rose breeder – that title belongs to the revered Sam McGredy. However, Sam has called Rob “New Zealand’s great hope”, a compliment that’s underlined by a steady accumulation of awards, while Rob credits Sam as an inspiration and values the freely given advice he has received over the years.

Rob also enters the annual Pacific Rose Bowl Festival at the Rogers Rose Gardens in Hamilton, enjoying the opportunity to see what the general public thinks of his work – the awards are decided by public vote.

“I’m always pleased to win the Children’s Choice award,” he says. “Youngsters judge in a very pure way. They’re not thinking about plant health, the size of the bush or whether it will flower again. They just like what they like.”

Little Miss Perfect wowed Rose Bowl visitors in 2014 with its heavy crop of coral blooms but almost didn’t make it to release because Rob ignored one of his own dictates – colour isn’t important. The compact bush was to be mowed out when a staff member remarked it was always in bloom and didn’t have disease issues.

“For me the most important thing in a rose is health and everything else comes after that – plant size, number of blooms and speed of repeat flowering, with colour almost unimportant because it’s so subjective,” Rob says. “I try not to be affected by it. I reckon if you get the plant right, customers can decide if they like the flower. But I made the mistake of not liking the colour and almost lost a great little plant.”

Scent to Remember was named by Waipuna Hospice at Te Puna. Photo: Rob Somerfield Roses

Rose growers may pity Rob having his business in the Tauranga area’s hot, humid (and sometimes very wet) summers but he reckons it gives him an advantage.

“Anything that is healthy here will do well anywhere. Gardeners aren’t prepared to stake and spray roses so field trials let me assess all parts of the plant. It’s almost a gut feeling about what’s going to be good when you look at them in the glasshouse but you learn so much more about the plant when it’s outside.”

What about perfume, that most desired of rose traits? “Unfortunately, perfume often goes hand-in-hand with poor health. If you increase the health of a plant, the fragrance goes down.

“Everyone expects red roses to be perfumed but so few are. A chemist told me that rose scents are made up of about 200 different compounds and that different noses pick them up at different rates. To me, if you’re calling something fragrant you’ve got to be able to smell it a metre away.”

Rob has been involved with horticulture all his life – his parents have had a well-known berry farm near Tauranga since 1972 – but it was visits to his grandparents’ dairy farm at Motueka that began his love of roses.

“It wasn’t a lightning bolt or anything, but I was fascinated by the roses my grandfather had, watching them unfurl a little more each day.” He was given his first rose bushes in his late teens and upon leaving school worked for a nursery to learn grafting and budding. “I would bud up plants for myself if I couldn’t get something and the plants did well enough to encourage me to continue.”

Picking up a 2005 award at the Westbroekpark International Rose Trial Grounds in The Netherlands emphasised that rose-breeding was what he should be doing. “The world really watches that one.” Cherry-red Summerfield was the first New Zealand rose not bred by Sam McGredy to win there and Rob is still considering a New Zealand release of the rose, albeit under a different name.

The plant was named by trial ground officials and Rob admits names are something he sweated over at first, although has got better and now has the help of his family. “The name is always the last thing I do,” he says. “It was the same with my kids! For roses it’s got to be something that you say once and it will be remembered.”

Looking Good is named for, and benefits, the cancer charity Look Good Feel Better. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Although he still uses established descriptive terms such as ‘floribunda’ and ‘hybrid tea’ when talking to rosarians, Rob believes the general public’s demand for more blooms more often is sending these distinctions to oblivion, especially with the advent of roses that aren’t easily categorised, such as Flower Carpet.

Rob started using Flower Carpet roses, “virtually bullet-proof in terms of disease and they pack on a lot of flowers”, in his breeding a few years ago and is now working with some of the resulting crosses, several generations removed, as parent plants.

“Inspiration for crosses usually comes when I’m sitting on the tractor so I hop off and write it down,” he says. “We sometimes have family conversations around an idea someone’s had but a rose has to be something special for me to introduce it into the breeding programme.

“I didn’t start breeding roses to make money, which is probably just as well. Sam is a real marketer and that’s the difference between us. I’m a plant person and tend to want to let my roses do the talking for me. But I love being asked questions and so I guess I’m opinionated too.

“I take a lot of pride in what I release and won’t put my name to anything I’m not happy with.”

Pacific Glory. Photo: Sandra Simpson

As well as intentional crosses, the occasional sport (a genetic mutation where a plant reverts to a gene in its background with usually just one attribute changing) also turns up, such as  Climbing Blackberry Nip, which is a sport of Rob’s bush rose of the same name.

He’s been working towards a green rose – Lemon ’n’ Lime was a step towards that – and believes he may have something marketable but wants to release it overseas first. “To market overseas you’ve really got to be there twice a year and having a young family made that impossible. But the kids are older now so we’ll see what happens.”

He’s also chasing a red hybrid tea rose that combines fragrance with health and has his eye on breeding a subtle “hint of” lavender rose – the colour is big in Japan and the United States.

“I’ve always been fascinated by lavender in roses, I don’t know why. But the plants tend to be unhealthy so getting the colour I want and the health together is the challenge.

“Every year I look forward to trying to make tiny improvements or breed from something in particular – and then something else appears and I follow that. My breeding is a web of inter-related things that I don’t want to – well, I don’t think I can – stop exploring. I often wish I was a full-time breeder to follow every little inkling but in reality our bread and butter is the nursery production.

“I’m after perfection in a rose – and see so much room for improvement – but know I’m never going to get it. It’s like a drug and I’m hooked into it. I hope I can keep breeding roses until the day I die.”

A selection of Rob’s winners:

NZ Rose Trials: Gold Star of the South Pacific: Quintessential (2016), Fireball (2015), Christchurch Remembers (2014), Love Heart (2009), Sunline (2007), Pacific Glory (2006). Silver Star of the City of Palmerston North: Blackberry Nip (1998). Certificates of Merit: Purple Pizzazz (2016), Shangri-la, Jack Frost (2015), Hot Topic, Eye Candy (both 2014), Scott Base (2013), Looking Good (2012), St Mary’s Rose, Wild Cherry (2011), Lemon ‘n’ Lime, Diamond Design ( 2010), Picotee (2009), Golden Gift (2007), White Romance (2005).

Pacific Rose Bowl Festival: 2016: Christchurch Remembers (Rose of the Year, Best Floribunda, Children’s Choice, Best NZ-raised Rose), Sunline (Best HT), Double Fragrance (Most Fragrant). 2015: Looking Good (Rose of the Year, Best Floribunda, Best NZ-raised Rose, Children’s Choice), Double Fragrance (Best Climber). 2014: Love Heart (Rose of the Year), Picotee (Children’s Choice), Little Miss Perfect (Best Floribunda). 2013: Wild Cherry (Rose of the Year, Best Floribunda, Best NZ-raised Rose, Children’s Choice). 2012: Climbing Blackberry Nip (Most Fragrant, Best Climber), Star Quality (Children’s Choice).

Most of this article was first published in NZ Gardener and appears here with permission.

NZ Rose Trial Winners

By Hayden Foulds

Quintessential, a free-flowering, healthy pink rose has taken the top award at the New Zealand Rose Society International Rose Trial Awards in Palmerston North.

Rob Somerfield with his award-winning rose Quintessential. Photo: Hayden Foulds

Bred by Tauranga’s Rob Somerfield (Glenavon Roses), Quintessential not only received the Gold Star of the South Pacific last weekend, it was also the pick of invited guests who voted it the best-looking rose in the trial before the awards were announced.

“It’s been a favourite of mine for a while” Rob says of the rose, which will be released in New Zealand within the next two or three years.

Rob,  who now has seven Gold Stars, also received a Certificate of Merit for the patio rose Purple Pizzazz.

Purple Pizzazz, bred by Rob Somerfield. Photo: Hayden Foulds

The Nola Simpson Novelty Award went to Eye of the Tiger, a single yellow bloom with a striking red ‘eye’ bred by Chris Warner of England and entered by Tasman Bay Roses of Motueka.

Eye of the tiger

Eye of the Tiger. Photo: Hayden Foulds

 

Wanganui rose breeder and grower Bob Matthews (Matthews Nurseries) won a Certificate of Merit for an un-named cluster-flowering pink rose with very good health.

This unnamed pale pink rose bred by Bob Matthews is showing great health characteristics. Photo: Hayden Foulds

Matthias Meilland, a member of the renowned Meilland rose-breeding family of France, presented an interesting lecture on how new roses are developed and commercialised around the world and spoke of the importance of rose trials for testing and promoting new rose varieties. Mr Meilland planted a Peace rose (bred by his grandfather) close to the trial beds in the Dugald Mackenzie Rose Gardens, part of the city’s Victoria Esplanade Gardens.

The New Zealand Rose Society trials are now into their 46th year and test new varieties from New Zealand and international rose breeders and are assessed over two years by a panel of 20 judges. Those roses which have gained an average of 70% are recognised with awards to reflect the consistently high performance they have achieved during the trial period.

If you’re interested in how new roses do in your part of the country, get hold of a copy of the New Zealand Rose Review – this year’s edition includes reports on 91 newer-variety roses, the most ever.

Produced by the New Zealand Rose Society with leading rose nurseries and breeders advertising their latest releases, the full-colour guide also features the favourite roses of NZRS members, as well as the winning roses from trials in Palmerston North and Hamilton.

The New Zealand Rose Review 2016-17 is $9.50 (including postage). For purchase details go to the New Zealand Rose Society website or contact the society’s secretary, Heather Macdonell, phone/fax 06 329 2700.