ROSE NEWS FROM AROUND THE WORLD
WET SUMMER THREATENS ROSE WORLD
VETERAN rose grower Colin Gregory admits this summer’s wet weather has brought the horticultural industry “to a standstill” and growers could need to reassess how they grow, sell and market their product to succeed.
A turbulent summer in the UK has seen consistent rainfall and strong winds hinder rose growers across the region as many have struggled to cope with the sudden weather changes.
With more than 32 years of experience Colin believes this year has been one of the toughest on record and fears it could be a sign of things to come.
He said: “We seem to be having these challenges year in, year out. Sometimes we can have four seasons in one month. I think we have to be more adaptable and be prepared for the unexpected out of season.”
Established in 1997, Colin Gregory Roses of Weston Hills grows more than 250 varieties from specialities like this year’s rose of the year, Moment in Time, to the more traditional species such as climbers, ramblers and Old English.
However, Colin admits he could be forced to grow a smaller selection of roses as the uncertainty surrounding the weather means he can’t always guarantee sellable stock.
He continued: “I think as a director I’m going to have to sit down and reassess not just the position of how we grow, sell and market roses but also consider a lot of varieties we grow and ensure we can grow the best of the best varieties.”
This year’s selection has been heavily reliant on fungicides and insecticides to survive and if the wet weather continues more will be needed to keep the fragile stock alive in the coming weeks.
Colin hopes for a period of good weather towards the end of the summer while he still has product of sufficient quality to catch the tail end of the busy selling period.
THINGS ARE LOOKING ROSIER
Among gardeners, roses are known as the aging celebrities of the flower world. Instead of the chemical peels and injectable fillers that keep Hollywood stars looking like starlets, roses must be doused with fungicides and pesticides and pumped up with fertilizers. Even in nature, a rosy glow does not always come naturally.
But at the New York Botanical Garden, in the Bronx, Peter E. Kukielski is trying to change that. The curator of the botanical garden’s Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden, Mr. Kukielski is in the vanguard of a national movement to identify and promote rose varieties that will thrive without chemical intervention.
Since arriving at the garden in 2006, he has led a horticultural revolution, weeding out most of the 243 rose varieties he found when he got to the Bronx and introducing more than 600 new ones. Modern roses are the product of hybridizing, in which strains are mixed to create new varieties; that effort has focused on the beauty of the roses, not their toughness.
“Roses have existed on earth for 34 million years,” said Mr. Kukielski, surrounded by some of his charges under a beating sun. “The genetics of roses are intact, but our meddling has messed them up. One of the things that got left behind was disease resistance.”
Since his campaign began, the use of fungicide, once sprayed liberally to eradicate black spot, a common disease of roses, has fallen by 86 percent.
Another payoff of his search for hardier varieties is a longer season. The Bronx garden typically had two dazzling months. There was a colorful splash in June, and a second display in September. But the garden now puts on a show seven months of the year, blooming from May to November.
The transformation of the one-acre rose garden has coincided with an increased awareness about the risks of pesticides and chemical fertilizers in general. Some local governments and school districts have stopped using them entirely, while consumers have increasingly turned to organic products.
The shift was not easy. When Mr. Kukielski first approached growers, the reception was anything but warm. “Some people slammed the door in my face and others laughed,” he recalled.
Taking a cue from the high-stakes testing now so dominant in public education, Mr. Kukielski, who with his crew cut and beefy arms, looks more drill sergeant than rosarian, uses a 10-point rating scale for his roses, compiling data points like form, color, fragrance, foliage, duration of bloom and, most important, hardiness. He evaluates every rose in the garden once a month. Twice a year, he enlists volunteers to conduct their own evaluations.
“I may give the plant an 8, but if everyone else is giving it a 5, it’s obviously not a strong plant,” he said. “I might have given it an 8 because I love it so much. This evaluation system takes all the emotion out of it.”
In 2006, only 23 percent of the roses scored a 6 or higher, Mr. Kukielski’s threshold for a rose variety to remain in the mix. Last year, 87 percent scored a 6 or above. He has achieved that while rapidly expanding the number of varieties — currently at 693 — and scaling back on chemicals. His staff sprays sparingly for pests like spider mites and rose midges, but the formulations are lighter than in the past. Fertilizers are organic, with fish emulsion a favorite.
One rose variety that will soon be shown the wrought-iron gate is a hybrid tea rose named About Face. The blossoms are lovely: golden-apricot on the inside, pink outside. But the foliage has black spot and withered leaves carpet the ground beneath the bushes. “It’s a beautiful bloom, and it has a great name, but it’s not what we need it to be,” he said.
Nearby, Mr. Kukielski is conducting an even more radical experiment, part of the National Earth-Kind Rose Research Study, which was begun by Texas A&M University’s AgriLife Extension Service to find especially vigorous rose varieties. Two years ago, he planted 32 rose varieties in a small plot, gave them some initial water and then let them fend for themselves. “We’ve used no fertilizers, no sprays, no water,” he said.
The varieties, which have names like Carefree Beauty and All the Rage, have mostly thrived.
Mr. Kukielski empathizes with home gardeners who become frustrated when the roses they plant do not match the lush photographs they see in the mail-order catalogs. He blames some hybridizers who for years have put their energy into achieving a particular hue or form without concern for how well the plant will fare in the garden. “People tell me that they can’t grow roses, and what I tell them is that it’s not your fault,” he said. “A lot of the roses out there are not meant to succeed.”
Details of all our roses are available on our web site.
Over 1000 varieties to choose from.
ROSE NEWS FROM AROUND THE WORLD
THE BEST ROSE GARDENS
The following Rose Gardens have been chosen by the Mail On Line Gardening as the Best In Britain.
Well worth a visit. MOTTISFONT ABBEY, HAMPSHIRE
Two large walled gardens filled with historic roses like gallicas and damasks, beautifully combined with perennials (above). Open daily, 10am-5pm (10am-8pm Fridays and Saturdays, until 30 June), entry £8.10 (free to National Trust members). www.nationaltrust.org.uk
CASTLE HOWARD, YORK
Forever associated with Brideshead Revisited, Castle Howard also has a glorious garden with many old-fashioned roses and an outstanding collection of more than 2,000 modern varieties, set within a lovely walled garden. Open daily, 10am-5.30pm, entry £8.50. www.castlehoward.co.uk
MALLENY GARDEN, EDINBURGH
Delightful three-acre walled garden with a national collection of 19th-century shrub roses, beautifully laid out. Open daily, 10am-5pm, entry £3.50 (free to NT members). www.nts.org.uk
SUDELEY CASTLE, WINCHCOMBE, GLOUCESTERSHIRE
Flanked by yews, this garden, on the site of a Tudor parterre, has over 70 varieties of roses and offers magnificent views of the Cotswolds countryside. Open daily, 10.30am-5pm, entry £5. www.sudeleycastle.co.uk
THE ALNWICK GARDEN, ALNWICK, NORTHUMBERLAND
An impressive garden with pergolas, arbours and beds filled with shrubs and climbers, including 3,000 David Austin roses. Open daily, 10am-6pm, entry £12 (valid for a year). www.alnwick garden.com
QUEEN MARY’S ROSE GARDEN, REGENT’S PARK, LONDON
Named after the Queen’s grandmother, this garden is packed with climbers, ramblers and shrub roses. There are also fountains, a rock garden and herbaceous borders, making it a great place for a picnic on a warm summer’s day. Open dawn to dusk, entry free. www.royalparks.gov.uk
DRUM CASTLE, DRUMOAK, ABERDEENSHIRE
Planted in 1991, this walled garden is divided into four quadrants, representing roses from the past four centuries, and boasts 400 varieties. Open daily, 11am-5pm, entry £9.50 (free to NT members). www.nts.org.uk
COUGHTON COURT, ALCESTER, WARWICKSHIRE
The Rose Labyrinth has over 200 varieties and is particularly strong on historic roses such as albas and noisettes. Open Wednesday-Sunday (and Tuesdays in July and August), 11am-5pm, entry £5.90 (£2.50 to NT members). www.coughtoncourt.co.uk
Details of all our roses are available on our web site. Over 1000 varieties to choose from.
ROSE OF THE WEEK
One of the most common requests we have is to suggest climbing roses that will grow on a North wall . Over the next few weeks we will highlight all the climbers we have that will tolerate a Northern aspect.
However you have to accept a simple golden rule.
“More sun. More flowers”
PERENNIAL BLUSH (Rose Of The Week)
2007. 8ft. - 10ft
Most old ramblers are usually summer flowering only, but in recent years many repeat flowering ramblers have been introduced and are now becoming very popular. This lovely recent rambler flowers all summer and looks sure to become a favourite with the public. It produces large clusters of pink blend blooms in flushes, with attractive whiter centres and golden stamens, plus the bonus of a sweet perfume. The first flush of the season is pretty spectacular, and the repeat blooms are more than satisfactory. Semi glossy medium green healthy foliage which has excellent disease resistance. An award winning rose which is pretty versatile as it will grow almost anywhere including a North wall. Highly recommended.
GOLD STANDARD AWARD WINNER 2008 PERENNIAL BLUSH (Mehbarbie) Since 2006 a few roses are selected each year for this prestigious award. Based on cumulative information from invited independent judges, the Gold Standard is awarded to worthy varieties. Health, floriferousness, scent and commercial appeal are all considered key factors in the final choice.
Bred by Bernard Mehring..
For further information please see Gold Standard Roses on the Main Menu.
Rambling Rose. 1923. 10ft-12ft
Small semi-double blooms of pink salmon and gold. One of the few ramblers available that will flower right through the season and is one of our favourite ramblers. The buds are like small cones and are carried in wide clusters on short stems. They open into fairly full rosette shaped blooms of modest size, in a mixture of salmon pink and yellow-gold shades. They are lightly scented and their neat distribution within the cluster and overall on the plant is a pleasure to see. It is a vigorous grower with lax arching stems, making a splendid rambler for fences, and arches etc. A delightful rose with good disease resistance and a pleasant perfume. A useful rambler as it will also cope on a North wall.
ST SWITHUN English Rose. Shrub/Climber 1993. 4ft plus
Large, saucer like, flowers filled with small petals and a button eye, their colour being soft pink at the centre and the palest pink at the edges. A beautiful rose with a tall, slightly stiff, bushy growth and smooth, greyish green foliage. Excellent as a climber. in fact it is considered to be one of the best English Rose climbers. It is a particularly tough, reliable and healthy rose which will also cope with a North wall. A very strong pure myrrh fragrance which is typical of the English Roses. St Swithun was a Saxon Bishop who is the origin of the legend that if it rains on St Swithun's feast day the rain will continue for 40 more days. St Swithun's day if thou dost rain For forty days it will remain St Swithun's day if thou be fair For forty days 'twill rain na mair
Named to commemorate the 900th anniversary of Winchester Cathedral.
SIMILAR COLOUR ENGLISH ROSES. Brother Cadfael. Gertrude Jekyll. Harlow Carr. Mary Rose. Noble Antony. Sister Elizabeth. The Countryman. Alan Titchmarsh. Geoff Hamilton. James Galway. Janet. The Alnwick Rose. Mortimer Sackler. Sceptere'd Isle.
Essential reading for all English Rose enthusiasts. ‘The English Roses’ by David Austin. Please go to GARDENERS GIFT SHOP on the main Menu.
For further information , see ‘What Rose Where’ on our web site
Details of all our roses are available on our web site.
Over 1000 varieties to choose from.