Palmerston North rose breeder John Ford has scoped the main awards at the New Zealand Rose Society International Rose Trial Grounds in Palmerston North in late November.
Mr Fords variety ‘Bright Eyes’ won the Gold Star of the South Pacific for the highest scoring rose on trial, the Silver Star of the City of Palmerston North for the highest scoring rose by a New Zealand amateur rose breeder and the Nola Simpson Novelty Award for the most novel rose in trial. Mr Ford, who is the Chairman of the Trial Grounds Committee said he was ‘blown away’ with the success of the variety which has clusters of light mauve blooms with a dark pink ‘eye’ in the centre of the blooms.
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.
The New Zealand Rose Society trials are now into their 50th year and test new varieties from New Zealand and international rose breeders and are judged over a period of two years by a panel of 20 judges. They assess the roses in areas 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 trial.
2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the trials although Covid has meant many of the events to celebrate this 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 by the cutting of the 50th anniversary cake by Mr Ford and Palmerston North Mayor Grant Smith.