Current rose trials

Each season (July to June), I take a few varieties that I liked least (or got bored with), give them away, and re-plant with something new and exciting.

Here are my trial varieties for the 2004/2005 season. I'll update notes, 'blogging' on these bushes until I'm confident enough to rate them in the Reviews section of this site. If anyone's interested in past trials, here's a link to the 2003/2004 trial notes.

This season I'm narrowing my focus to specialise on the 'later' period of tea roses, bred from the 1880s to the early 1900s. I'm also having a look at one of the latest releases from David Austin's 'English rose' breeding program, and a couple of new hybrid teas.

 

Baronne Henriette de Snoy

This French-bred pink tea rose was released in France in 1897. By then the teas were very popular, and this one had some very sophisticated breeding behind it (Gloire de Dijon and Mme Lombard as parents, and Souvenir de la Malmaison as a grandparent). By reputation it is a tall strong grower with large foliage and very red stems. Fragrance is a question mark - reports vary.

 

Maman Cochet

A pink Tea, bred in 1893. One of the most popular remaining in cultivation. Will reportedly grow to 2 metres and provide large, fragrant flowers suitable for cutting. Disease resistance to mildew is apparently good in the US.

This trial is continued from last year, where the bush failed to really get a foothold.

 

Mme Antoine Mari

A tea with darker rose outer petals blending to pale pink within. Photos of it look lovely. This is one of the later teas, bred by a little known rosarian (Mari) in 1901. Reportedly very fragrant, it seems to have numerous fans in the US but I don't see much mention of it in Australia.

This trial is continued from last year. My first bush died after a long struggle in 'near death' mode. It was a very weak specimen to begin with, so it was worth another try. This year Honeysuckle Nursery has given me a much better one.

 

Mme Lombard

Prompted by a dismal beginning for Baronne Henriette de Snoy, I resorted to its mother! A salmon pink tea with reportedly good fragrance, Mme Lombard was bred in France by Lacharme in 1878. It is a direct seedling from the famous Mme de Tartas whose bloodline has contributed to more than 7,500 known varieties, including Iceberg, Mr Lincoln, Superstar, Gold Medal and Double Delight. This Madame is no genteel lady though: it has enormous thorns and plenty of them. It also has a reputation for survival in bad conditions, especially in neglected cemetaries.

 

Mrs B R Cant

I first tried this rose in 2002, but it quickly succumbed to drainage problems in heavy clay. Until it died rather suddenly, the bush showed enormous promise. It is a mid pink tea, bred by one of the world's oldest rose breeding firms (Cant, of Colchester in the UK) in 1901. It is a large bush, with stiffer stems and better fragrance than the average tea rose. Reportedly very disease resistant.

 

Jubilee Celebration

A 2002 release from David Austin, this is (according to him) one of his best ever roses. By the photographs it appears to be mid pink in colour, with a strong citrus/raspberry fragrance and a growth height up to 1.25 metres. It is reportedly very free flowering.

 

Ernest's Blue

This variety appears to be rare to the point of extinction, but I can't fathom why. Apparently bred in 1990 by LeGrice (England), this modern hybrid tea seems to have eveything going for it: large 'blue' (i.e. mauve) blooms good for cutting, medium to tall growth, strong fragrance and "abundant, disease-free foliage" according to Botanica's Roses. Yet it seems lost to all countries bar Australia - I can only find it at Mistydowns and Treloar.

 

Tropical Sunset

Now this looks like fun. Veteran New Zealand breeder Sam McGredy has bred some fine roses, and this is another of his novelty striped varieties. Like his 1992 floribunda creation, Oranges 'n' Lemons, Tropical Sunset (1998) has orange and yellow stripes that fade to pink and cream. The difference is that this is a hybrid tea with completely different ancestors behind it. How good it is for picking, and how fragrant it really is will be interesting to find out.

 

Susan

The German firm Kordes is one of the most competent in the world. They have the cut flower market virtually sewn up. Most of their breeds are designed to produce copious numbers of blooms under hot-house conditions, with strong disease resistance. Fragrance tends to come a long last in breeding priorities, and the names are something only a commercial flower producer would remember. Yet sometimes Kordes comes up with a rose that works equally well in the home garden, with a good fragrance too. Kardinal is one example; Susan is reportedly another. This is a light to mid pink shaded hybrid tea. I was tempted to try it because the 'plain Jane' name might be hiding a real winner. Both the Treloar catalogue and Botanica's roses suggest so.