In the Garden:
Visit a display rose garden, such as this one at Les Jardins de Metis in Quebec. Here, varieties are labeled, so you can identify favorites.
Choosing Roses for the Garden
Did you know that the rose is our "national floral emblem?" Always a popular plant, the rose was made the official national flower by proclamation in 1986. That makes it almost unpatriotic NOT to grow at least one rose!
There are, at last count, a gazillion rose varieties, and each year rose breeders introduce new ones. How is a gardener to choose just one, or even just ten? Here are some ways to help you narrow down the field.
Visit a trusted local garden center and browse their offerings. Reputable nurseries will sell only plants that are hardy and well adapted to your growing region. They'll also have knowledgeable staff to help guide you, and they will probably guarantee the plants they sell. However, selection may be limited.
Varieties that have won the All-American Rose Selection award have met specific standards for traits such as vigor, disease resistance, and flower production. AARS is a nonprofit association of rose growers with a network of test gardens across the country. Varieties are evalutated under a range of climates and growing conditions; of the many tested, just a few are awarded the prestigious AARS award.
When browsing nursery catalogs, you'll find that numerous rose varities are described as award-winning. However, this may refer to awards based on flower competitions, rather than on overall plant performance. There are many gorgeous tea roses that are challenging to grow in home gardens due to disease susceptibility, for example. Don't rely solely on the generic term "award-winning" to guide your choice of plants.
Flower Shows and Display Gardens
There's no better way to choose a rose variety than to see it in full bloom in a local display garden! There, you can judge for yourself the plant's flower and foliage colors, growth habit, and fragrance -- plus you'll know it is adapted to your climate. And there's no better time of year than now for visiting rose gardens and attending shows! Plan a visit to one or more regional rose shows and display gardens. Below are a few in the area; please doublecheck dates and times of specific events. Some of the shows are specifically cut flower competitions, while others include garden tours and workshops. Also, some tours are for local rose society members only -- a good reason to join!
Massachusetts. Visit the Kelleher Rose Garden in the Back Bay Fens in Boston. Established in 1930, the garden contains over 200 varieties of tea, floribunda, and grandiflora hybrids. The Back Bay Fens is part of the Emerald Necklace, a 6-mile linear park in Boston and Brookline. You are free to wander the park. For a map and other information about the park, visit the Emerald Necklace Conservancy Web site: http://www.emeraldnecklace.org/fenway.htm.
Massachusetts also plays host to the New England Rose Society's 63rd Spring Rose Show "Its Raining Roses!" on June 14, 2003, 1 to 4 p.m. at The University of Massachusetts Agricultural Field Station, 241 Beaver Street, Waltham, Massachusetts. For more information, visit http://www.rosepetals.org/rshow03.htm. This is a cut flower competition.
Connecticut. The rose garden at Elizabeth Park in Hartford, Connecticut, is the oldest municipally operated rose garden in the country. The two and a half acre garden has about 800 varieties of roses totalling about 15,000 plants, and is an All-America Test Garden. June 21 and 22 is Rose Weekend at the Park; call for a schedule of events: (860) 231-9443. Another resource for Connecticut gardeners is the Connecticut Rose Society; visit their Web site at http://ctrose.org/.
Maine. The Maine Rose Society's Annual Rose Show takes place on June 29, 2003, at 1 p.m., at the Barron Center in Portland, Maine. On July 13, there is a Member's Garden Tour. For more information, visit the society's Web site: http://www.mainerosesociety.com/upcoming.html.
New Hampshire. The New Hampshire Rose Society will hold its annual open house in Nashua on June 15, including a tour of a member's garden with 4,000 rose plants. The society's annual Spring Rose Show will take place on June 21. For more information on either event, call (603) 888-2214. The Rose Festival at the Langdon House, in Portsmouth, NH, will take place on June 21. Highlights include a flower arranging demonstration and garden tour, storytelling, refreshments, games, crafts, and activities. For more information, call (603) 436-3205.
Rhode Island. The Rhode Island Rose Society Rose Garden Tour (members-only) will take place Sunday, June 15 from noon to 4 p.m. Their annual rose show, "Romance & Roses," will be held Saturday, June 21. For more information, visit the society's Web site: http://www.rirs.org.
Further Afield. June is Rose Month at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (http://www.bbg.org/vis2/2003/rosemonth/). June 715, 2003 is Rose Week at the New York Botanical Garden, (http://www.nybg.org/events/roseweek03.html).
June is peak bloom for roses in New England, so forget catalog photos and descriptions, and get out to see the real thing! Not only will you find help in choosing varieties, you'll also see firsthand why the magnificent rose is our national flower.
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