Of all the flowers to be found in gardens throughout the world, the rose is the most popular and the most widely grown. Roses can be found in every country, even where the climate is less than ideal. No other flower has been so immortalized and integrated into daily life. Fossil remains found on a slate deposit in Colorado indicate that roses existed 40 million years ago in North America. Of the 200 species of wild roses known worldwide, about 35 are considered indigenous to the United States.
The rose is a plant of incredible variety of form and growth, from the smallest miniature just 6 inches in height to the largest climbers, which can reach 40 or 50 feet. Between these two extremes is a vast array of rose types within these general categories:
– Hybrid tea roses have large flowers on long stems, like the traditional Valentine’s Day red rose.
– Floribunda roses are bushy with clusters of several small flowers.
– Grandiflora roses have characteristics of the hybrid tea and floribunda, producing clusters of several medium size flowers.
– Shrub roses are vigorous and dense with a wide range of flower color.
– Landscape roses are similar to shrub roses, but tend to be lower and more spreading with clusters of small flowers.
– Tree-form roses are a result of pruning (usually a hybrid tea) to produce a woody trunk with foliage and flowers at the top.
– Antique or old garden roses were originally derived from wild roses and include those grown in Europe and Asia for several hundred years. These are becoming more popular.
– Wild roses are true species that have naturally evolved without artificial breeding or human intervention.
In 1938, the All-America Rose Selections (AARS) program was established to evaluate and promote exceptional roses. Every AARS winning rose completes an extensive two-year trial program in which it is judged on disease resistance, flower production, color and fragrance. The LSU AgCenter Burden Center in Baton Rouge is a designated AARS Display Garden where the public can view roses awarded the AARS distinction. New rose selections are received annually and evaluated for performance in south Louisiana. The garden has about 1,500 plants, representing 150 varieties.
The 2003 AARS winners have been selected and are to be delivered for planting in February 2002. The official names are not to be released until the spring of 2002, but a description includes a white hybrid tea, red/white grandiflora, yellow peach floribunda and a smoked orange blend floribunda. In the meantime, people can visit the garden any day of the week to view past winners, including recent additions.
Drew Bates, Associate Professor, Burden Center, Baton Rouge, La.