Monday, June 15, 2015 8 comments

Return to Rose Paradise

 In 2012, I wrote about my first visit to Doug and Shari's majestic mountaintop rose garden. If you missed "What you didn't see in Southern Living", you can read the article here.

Since then, I've hung around photographing the garden so often, we've all become friends. I ran into Doug at a local garden center (where else?) in late May and he urged me to stop by soon because everything was blooming at the same time and the roses were in top form. Of course, I made a beeline over there and the garden looked more spectacular than ever. 

Words still cannot describe the beauty. 

Words truly are not necessary. 


Last night we were honored to be on the guest list for the celebration of Doug and Shari's 45th wedding anniversary. It was the first time I had seen the garden at sunset. 

I can't wait for more magnificent photo ops in years to come.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015 11 comments

One of the oldest names in rosedom wins the 2015 Biltmore International Trials

The fabulous Biltmore Rose Garden hosts the International Trials

A part-time hybridizer made history in 2013 when one of his creations won the George and Edith Vanderbilt Award for Most Outstanding Rose at the first Biltmore International Rose Trials competition held in Asheville, North Carolina.

Mike Athy of Gisborne, New Zealand entered his climbing/groundcover rose (temporarily known as 'Athyfalaa') in 2011 and after eight rounds of judging over two years it was declared the winner in five of eleven categories. Another of his roses was the second highest scorer in the trial.

'Miracle on the Hudson'
In 2014, another amateur, Robert Neal Rippetoe, took top honors with 'Miracle on the Hudson', a vibrant shrub named to salute the Captain, crew and passengers of US Airways Flight 1549. Rippetoe’s rose also won for Best Shrub Rose, Best Growth Habit and Most Disease Resistant.

This year, one of the most honored names in rosedom took home top honors. This year Best in Show went to the hybrid tea ‘Savannah’, bred by Kordes Rosen of Germany. The rose also won Best Hybrid Tea and Most Fragrant.

'Savannah', Courtesy Kordes Roses

This is the third year Biltmore’s Rose Garden has been home to the trials where dozens of varieties from growers and breeders worldwide have been planted and cared for by the team of rosarians and horticulturists there.

No fungicides or insecticides are used on these roses and any entry that displays disease over 25% of the bush is removed from the competition.

Each trial lasts two years and a permanent jury judges the roses four times annually. I am fortunate to be on that permanent panel (despite the fact it can be mighty cold out in the gardens in mid-January.) 

The difficult path to disease resistant roses

I love Kordes roses and especially admire the fact they stopped spraying their bushes in the early 90s. They were way ahead of the curve when it came to breeding more disease resistant varieties. It almost cost them their business as you can read in my 2009 article in The Christian Science Monitor:

'Bajazzo' (right) from  Kordes won Best Climber in 2014
Their determination to create a line of plants that could stay healthy throughout the growing season without the aid of chemical sprays has paid off handsomely. The Fairy Tale, Parfuma and Vigorosa Collections are hugely popular, and for good reason.

I loved the fairy tale endings where the amateur hybridizer bests the big names in the business.

This year, it is nice to see folks who started producing roses in 1887 step into the Biltmore spotlight.

Here is a complete listing of the winners:

·        The George & Edith Vanderbilt Award for Most Outstanding Rose of the Trials (Best in Show): 'Savannah,' bred by Kordes Rosen in Germany

·        The Pauline Merrell Award for Best Hybrid Tea: 'Savannah,' bred by Kordes Rosen in Germany  

·        The Cornelia Vanderbilt Cecil Award for Most Fragrant Rose: 'Savannah,' bred by Kordes Rosen in Germany

·        The Award of Excellence for Best Established Rose: 'Queen Elizabeth,' a Grandiflora rose.

·        The Edith Wharton Award for Best Floribunda: 'Tequila Gold,' bred by Meilland in France.

·        The Honorable John Cecil for Open Group: 'Popcorn Drift,' bred by Nova Flora, a breeder in West Grove, Pa.

·        The Gilded Age Award for Best Climber: 'FlyingKiss,' bred by Ping Lim, based in Portland, Oregon.

·        The Chauncey Beadle Award for Best Shrub Rose: 'Peachy Keen,' bred by Bill Radler, of Milwaukee, Wisc.

·        The William Cecil Award for Best Growth Habit: 'Phloxy Baby,' bred by Bill Radler, of Milwaukee, Wisc.

·        The Lord Burleigh Award for Most Disease Resistant: 'Peachy Keen,' bred by Bill Radler, of Milwaukee, Wisc.