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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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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 26:

Sacramento can expect another inch of rain from this latest storm. Leave the sprinklers off at least another week. Temps will dip down into the low 30s early in the week, so avoid planting tender seedlings (such as tomatoes). Concentrate on these tasks before or after this week’s rain:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Knock off aphids with a strong blast of water or some bug soap as soon as they appear.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to help corral blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees, which are now in bloom and setting fruit.

To prevent sunburn and borer problems on young trees, paint the exposed portion of the trunk with diluted white latex (water-based) interior paint. Dilute the paint with an equal amount of cold water before application.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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