Rose garden earns honors at LSU AgCenter’s Burden Center

Richard Bogren, Ellis, Wanda E., Broyles, C. Allen, C.P. Hegwood

News Release Distributed 05/01/09

The All-America Rose Selections garden at the LSU AgCenter’s Burden Center in Baton Rouge recently was recognized with an "Outstanding Rose Garden Maintenance Award" for 2009, according to AgCenter officials.

Private evaluators last year found the garden to be in excellent condition and stated that the garden “is a real tribute to the AARS varieties on display,” said Dr. Pat Hegwood, coordinator at the Burden Center.

This is the second time the Burden Center rose garden has been recognized with this distinction, Hegwood said.

The Burden Center has been home to the LSU AgCenter’s AARS garden since 1983, when it was moved from the Horticulture Hill Farm Teaching Facility on the LSU campus.

All-America Rose Selections is a nonprofit association dedicated to the introduction and promotion of exceptional roses, according to the group’s Web site. The AARS runs the world's most challenging horticultural testing program and consistently recognizes roses that will be easy to grow and require minimal care by today's busy homeowner.

The AARS garden at Burden Center comprises about 1,500 plants representing 150 varieties of mostly hybrid tea roses, Hegwood said.

Three years ago the staff at Burden rebuilt the entire rose garden, said Wanda Ellis, a research associate at Burden Center.

The rose garden was becoming “tired” and need renovation, Ellis said. “It was time to replant.”

“We removed the soil, installed French drains 6-8 inches deep, built raised beds with sand, bark and compost and installed irrigation with fertilizer,” Ellis said.

Then, they added roses.

Most varieties are on Fortuniana rootstock, which is considered to be the best, Hegwood said.

“It’s difficult to graft on, but it’s a vigorous rootstock,” he added

The AARS award came in the third year following renovation, Ellis said. The evaluation was conducted anonymously, so the staff at Burden Center didn’t know who was responsible.

“We usually are rated in good standing,” Ellis said. “That means we meet the AARS standards.”

Besides the AARS garden that’s full of hybrid tea roses, Burden Center also is home to a significant evaluation of shrub roses, Hegwood said.

The leading rose species at Burden Center is the Knock Out roses, said Allen Broyles, a research associate at Burden. The first was developed by William Radler in 1988, and it was named an AARS winner in 2000.

Since then, six additional Knock Out roses have been released and are in the research gardens, Broyles said.

“It’s the most popular shrub rose in America,” Broyles said of the Knock Out line. “It has six bloom cycles – three are major. It blooms for eight-plus months a year in Louisiana, and peak blooms hold for weeks.”

Shrub roses aren’t cutting roses, he said. They’re considered landscape roses. And unlike hybrid tea roses, shrub roses grow from their own roots rather than being grafted to different root stock, Broyles said.

“They have prolific blooms and are hardy,” the LSU AgCenter research associate said. “They require no spraying for bugs or diseases and require minimal water and fertilizer.”

In addition to the Knock Out roses, the Burden Center research gardens have been planted with Griffith Buck roses developed at Iowa State University go back to the 1940s.

“They’re cold-hardy and disease resistant,” Broyles said of the 50 Griffith Buck roses he’s tending.

The LSU AgCenter also is part of a program evaluating Earth Kind roses.

Developed by Texas A&M University, Earth Kind Roses have been through statewide testing in Texas and possess a high level of landscape performance and outstanding disease and insect tolerance or resistance, Texas A&M officials say.

Broyles, who has “numerous” shrub roses in the Earth Kind evaluation, rates roses on their floriferousness – how well they bloom – frequency of blooms and length of peak bloom along with disease resistance. He rates them on a scale of 1-4 for blooms and 1-5 for quality.

“I’ve never give a 5,” Broyles said. “But some get a 4.5.”

Hegwood said visitors are welcome to visit the AARS garden any time the Burden Center is open. It’s located on Essen Lane just off I-10 in Baton Rouge.


Rick Bogren 

5/2/2009 12:15:41 AM
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