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How do you rate your roses?

Multicolored roses
Frida Kahlo, a floribunda from Weeks Roses and named
for the famed artist, is among the roses that needs rating
in Roses in Review. (Photo courtesy Weeks Roses)

Annual 'Roses in Review' survey grades new introductions

For almost a century, gardeners across the nation have been rating their roses. It’s one of America’s oldest exercises in citizen science and an important tool for helping others select roses for their own gardens.

It’s the American Rose Society’s 95th annual Roses in Review survey. And you’re invited to participate.

“We need your evaluations, whether you grow one of the varieties on the survey or dozens of them,” said Don Swanson, the national coordinator for Roses in Review. “We welcome evaluations from you whether you are a new rose grower, a ‘garden’ rose grower or a seasonal veteran grower; whether you grow roses for your landscape and garden or if you also grow them to exhibit and arrange. We are happy to get reports from non-ARS members as well.”

ARS members do most of the ratings (and new members are always welcome), but the review is open to anyone who grows roses – as long as those roses are on this year’s survey. The results are compiled in the annual ARS handbook.

Not all roses are re-evaluated every year; there’s just too many. According to the ARS, there are more than 37,000 registered roses listed in the society’s encyclopedic “Modern Roses.”

Instead, the annual survey sticks to newly introduced roses, commercially available in the past one to four years. That group still includes about 200 varieties. Rating those new introductions is important; high scores will keep them on the market for years to come. A bad grade? That rose could soon be history.

This bouquet features Violet's Pride, a salute to "Downton Abbey."
The mauve floribunda is one of dozens of new roses,
up for review. (Photo: Debbie Arrington)

How do you rate roses? Through observation, gardeners evaluate each bush’s characteristics such as height, winter hardiness and disease resistance. They consider its pluses such as fragrance, color and form. And its minuses (such as a susceptibility to powdery mildew).

After thoughtful consideration, they give that rose a number grade on a 1 to 10 scale, 10 being best.

In the rose garden, there are almost no 10s. As the directions remind graders, “10 (equals) Outstanding, one of the best roses ever. These scores should be seldom used.”

Instead, most roses fall between “7” and “8,” which makes sense. Each variety had to have a lot of positive features to make it to the market in the first place; but a “6” is below average.

By comparison, Mister Lincoln (an all-time favorite hybrid tea) is rated 8.3.

Filled with the ratings of new roses as well as thousands of popular varieties, the ARS handbooks are available for purchase from the national website as well as local rose societies.

For more details or to participate in Roses in Review, go to: .


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Garden Checklist for week of April 21

This week there’s plenty to keep gardeners busy. With no rain in the immediate forecast, remember to irrigate any new transplants.

* Weed, weed, weed! Get them before they flower and go to seed.

* April is the last chance to plant citrus trees such as dwarf orange, lemon and kumquat. These trees also look good in landscaping and provide fresh fruit in winter.

* Smell orange blossoms? Feed citrus trees with a low dose of balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) during bloom to help set fruit. Keep an eye out for ants.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* Thoroughly clean debris from the bottom of outdoor ponds or fountains.

* Spring brings a flush of rapid growth, and that means your garden is really hungry. Feed shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer. Or mulch with a 1-inch layer of compost.

* Azaleas and camellias looking a little yellow? If leaves are turning yellow between the veins, give them a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim dead flowers but not leaves from spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Those leaves gather energy to create next year's flowers. Also, give the bulbs a fertilizer boost after bloom.

* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, radishes and squash.

* Plant onion sets.

* In the flower garden, plant seeds for asters, cosmos, celosia, marigolds, salvia, sunflowers and zinnias.

* Transplant petunias, zinnias, geraniums and other summer bloomers.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom.

* Mid to late April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Transplant lettuce seedlings. Choose varieties that mature quickly such as loose leaf.

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