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Roses - still voted the most popular flower!

Leigh Siebler reports

A reader's poll in Gardening Australia Magazine last year revealed that roses still top the charts as the most popular flower in the world. And why not? What other plant will return months of pleasure from plants simply 'dripping' with magnificent flowers and exuding the most gorgeous fragrances?

Don't let the odd thorn or two put you off, or the feeling that roses need enormous care - the better ones don't. Talk to your customers about selection, soil preparation and care for the first year or so, after which roses become virtually `unkillable' - even dry-tolerant dare I say. Have a look in old gardens or even cemeteries if you don't believe me.

After speaking with major 'bare root' growers this year it's quite obvious that sales have been good. Sales of potted roses too, everything considered, have also been strong. No doubt about it, roses are an important department for any good garden centre so make sure you enjoy the profits.

Roses are just like any other department in your garden centre - try to have the appropriate amount of quality stock at the right times, display it well and cut stock levels down when the selling season slows.

The way to succeed with roses is to have:

  • Quality stock.
  • Inspirational displays.
  • Good ticketing.
  • High stock levels at peak times.
  • Reduced stock levels off-peak.
  • Add-on sales of rose food, mulch, stakes, arbours, lattice and more.

    Roses that make great scents!

    Corporate Roses, the Meilland agent, applied this maxim to their new releases in the December edition of Greenworld and there's no doubt that all other breeders are more than conscious of the need for great fragrance. Some would say that `a rose is not a rose' without a fragrance and there's no doubt that fragrance sells roses. David Austin Roses, Delbards and Guillot (The Rose Garden) work hard to ensure maximum fragrance wherever possible.

    What's in a name?
    If you take a look at some of the names of roses you'll surely agree that a name helps in marketing a plant. Many of the names such as 'Scouts Honour', 'Fiona's Wish', 'Ian Thorpe and 'Sight Saver' are associated with fund-raising and doubtless have raised thousands of dollars for charity. Others such as 'Marilyn Monroe', `William Shakespeare' etc are named for sentimental or business reasons and many people buy the roses, perhaps because of some sentimental attachment to the name. A person's name is often good and we see many people buying roses by name to celebrate a birth or to commemorate a death.

    Make room for a display garden
    There is no doubt in my mind that a great display garden helps sell plants and this goes for roses as much as any other plant. Of course there are opportunities to sell other products from your display as well. Look at some of the small climbers or Pillar Roses to train up an obelisk or a rose cone and you'll be delighted at how wonderful they look. Your customers will be delighted too, and importantly they'll be inspired to buy. Set up an arch with small climbing roses and perennials, or perhaps Buxus for a more formal style, and inspire your customers again. These suggestions may sound a bit basic but we have many newer gardeners coming into garden centres now and they need ideas and inspiration.

    The display garden does not have to be large but it must be great. Even the smaller, trendy if you like, home gardens have room for an arch or an obelisk and these can add a popular `architectural' component to the garden.

    The 'bare root' market
    I know that many garden centres don't want to handle roses in winter now, be they `bare root' or `winter potted', and owners tell me that they are 'too much work" or "we cannot compete on price with the chains". Well, one ex Australian Prime Minister was quoted as saying "life wasn't meant to be easy" and I'd hate to see garden centres taking the easy option all the time. Growers constantly tell us about the numbers of roses that are sold by the chains or mail order outlets during winter, so there's no doubt that customers want them.

    It may be that you need to accept a reduced margin in winter to be seen to be competitive, not the cheapest, but if you are not in the market then you'll surely suffer as your customers go elsewhere. One prominent garden centre offers `winter potted' roses with a large sign telling customers that the price is $6 less than it will be in spring when the roses are growing and are in flower. This is a genuine call-to-action and I am assured that sales are strong.

    Which colours are hot?
    It seems to me the answer depends on who you talk to. I'll declare my bias here for David Austin Roses and tell you that softer colours are still very popular but stronger colours are being bred to satisfy the market.

    Delbard Roses have been immensely popular and Lloyd Rankin (Rankin's Roses are the largest licensed grower of Delbards in the country) assures me that Delbards have added new life to the otherwise flat rose market.

    The colour range in roses is quite amazing and you'll see bi-colours and stripes in an increasingly complex collection. But the average garden centre needs to be a little careful with selection as they'll probably find that picking the best 20 or 50 varieties, depending on space, is the way to go for larger numbers and have smaller numbers of some others to round out the range.

    As always, the major growers have some stunning new releases to tempt you and your customers in 2005. I thank them for their help with this story.

    New Release Roses 2005

    Chihuly (Pictured right)

    Named for famous glass artisan Dale Chihuly, this rose had to have impeccable style and an array of flashy colours. As the sun hits the opening petals they blush from subtly striped apricot yellow to dazzling orange and deep red, producing a remarkable display against deep dark green foliage. The colours are thoroughly glowing and will not tire even when combined with the flashy tropical style of city gardens.
    Swanes Nurseries. 02 9651 1777

    Charles Darwin (Auspeet)
    Charles Darwin’ bears some of the largest flowers of any English Rose. The blooms are full and deeply cupped at first. The colour is yellow tending towards mustard. It’s an impressive shrub with broad, spreading growth – the flowers turning upwards on the end of long stems. There is a strong, delicious fragrance, varying according to weather conditions, between a soft floral Tea and almost pure lemon.
    David Austin Roses 03 9889 5453

    'Close to you' ™ (Var. Meisafran)(Pictured right)

    A fragrant hybrid tea that is both romantic and generous! A rose of immense quality and elegance, each creamy, lemon-yellow, double bloom sits atop a long stem, ideal for cutting. Perfectly perfumed, its fragrance will radiate throughout the garden. A robust performer with exceptional health and vigour. A welcome fragrant addition to this colour range.
    Corporate Roses Pty Ltd. 08 8558 6055

    Charmwell Golden Iceberg (PBR applied)
    This variety, like the ever-popular white Iceberg, has profuse repeat flowering qualities and a sweet fragrance. It produces an attractive display of semi double golden blooms, fading to soft lemon and then creamy white. Light green foliage is disease resistant and stems are almost thorn free. Golden Iceberg is a small. Compact bush and will be available potted in spring 2005.
    Wallara Roses 03 5964 8382

  • Charmwell Sweet Susie
    ‘Sweet Susie’ is a beautiful rose bearing an abundance of attractive deep pink buds opening to soft pink blooms with an intensely fruity fragrance. Traditional hybrid tea flowers are borne in clusters or singly on tall, almost thorn free, stems. The bush itself is dense with tall, upright growth and light green foliage. Roses will be available potted in spring.
    Wallara Roses 03 5964 8382

    Generosa™ Celebration(Pictured right)

    Large fully double blooms of bright orange and red tones combine for a riot of colour! Long stems with clusters of 2 or 3, they hold exceptionally well when picked. The upright bush is healthy and disease resistant, continually producing new bloom from first flush until early winter.
    The Rose Garden. 08 8842 3577

    'Gift of Grace' ™ (Var. Meizincaro)
    A fragrant hybrid tea of grace and presence! This is a seriously fragrant rose. Majestic, classic double blooms in a rich ruby-pink are highlighted by a silvery reverse. The foliage is large and gives the plant substantial stature and framework. The fragrance is strong and sweet, yet layered with a subtle blend of spice. The substance and size of the bloom will amaze.
    Corporate Roses Pty Ltd. 08 8558 6055

    Heaven Scent
    Heaven Scent will strike a chord in your heart with a symphony of sensory delights. Unusual orchid pink, old fashioned and full flowers are saturated with intense and classic old rose fragrance. Long stems are adorned with lush, clean green leaves. Easy to grow and with a powerful perfume the modern rose is indispensable as gardens get smaller and more compact.
    Swanes Nurseries. 02 9651 1777

    High Society - Climber
    A vigorous high spirited rose with wonderful fragrance and colour all summer long. Large classic blooms of rich pink are saturated with irresistible damask rose fragrance. Climbing roses are back, creating a statement modern gardens don’t achieve with foliage alone. Works well with the pinks of flax and succulents. It doubles as easy fragrant blooms for sunny afternoons with friends and family.
    Swanes Nurseries. 02 9651 1777

    Innocencia (Korstarnow)(Pictured right)

    This award winning floribunda produces pure white, semi-double, blooms in large clusters of 10 – 15 flowers repeatedly all season. Growth habit is low and vigorous with very healthy dark green, glossy foliage. An ideal robust floribunda for many applications. Suitable for public gardens. Moderate fragrance. Height to 50cm x 50cm wide.
    Treloar Roses. 03 5529 2367

    'Lucina' ™ ( Var. Meijeep)
    Another fragrant floribunda of captivating charm! The soft ash-lilac, double blooms are reminiscent of shades of dusky twilight, which is most apt as Lucina is the 'Goddess of the Moon'. Each medium-sized flower is produced in small clusters and carries a heady sweet rose scent - outstanding and long lasting. Healthy and happy, this rose is sure to please.
    Corporate Roses Pty Ltd. 08 8558 6055

    Magma (Kordaelf)(Pictured right)

    This is a stunning bi-coloured Hybrid Tea. Large blooms of shining yellow and red provide a brilliant colour play. A very healthy variety that can be grown in all areas without problems. Long, single stems with few thorns are excellent for picking. 1.2m tall.
    Treloar Roses. 03 5529 2367

    Maurice Utrillo™
    At last, another brand new ‘Painter’ rose to add to Delbard’s now famous and most flamboyant rose collection. The great French painter, Utrillo, loved his colors and as an impressionist would have loved these rose blooms of sharp reds striated with yellow with broad strokes of white. A striking rose with large double flowers borne in clusters and a wonderfully healthy bushy plant.
    Breeders Rights International 03 9775 3113

    Queen of Hearts (Korbreano)
    This robust, strong growing variety leaves a nostalgic impression of colour and bud shape. Large, cup shaped blooms in a colour play of cherry red and apricot are produced on long, single stems with glossy foliage. A good outdoor cut flower variety with slight fragrance. 1.5m tall. Hybrid Tea.
    Treloar Roses. 03 5529 2367

    Triple Treat (Korcoptru)(Pictured right)

    A robust and charming Shrub rose which is enhanced by an array of three colours. Large clusters of pointed buds open to double blooms of white with red edges, as the flower matures the colour is white with red splashes and a breath of pink. Dark green, very glossy foliage on an upright, bushy plant to 1.2m tall.
    Treloar Roses. 03 5529 2367

    Scout's Honour ™ (Var. Meivenerie)
    A fragrant floribunda that is as tough as it is beautiful! Soft white and lemon, double blooms cluster thickly over this excellent floribunda rose. Healthy, free-flowering with a delightful sweet lemon fragrance, this rose will certainly perform. Could be described as `Lemon Bonica' (same breeder), with a beaut fragrance. It’s named in honour of the Australian Scouting Movement with a small contribution made for each plant sold in 2005.
    Corporate Roses Pty Ltd. 08 8558 6055

    Social Climber - Climber
    This beauty will keep garden walls, fences or arbours covered with a lush abundance of sweet, spicy scented old fashioned flowers. It’s a thoroughly modern rose that elevates colour to eye level and beyond. Creates focus in small or large gardens when used at the end of a path or courtyard. Elevation can be created using a simple garden arbour.
    Swanes Nurseries. 02 9651 1777

    Souvenir de Louis Amade™
    This rose should win hearts for its feminine beauty, large lavender-pink blooms and an ‘Old World Charm’ and rich fragrance. As the latest release in Delbard’s ‘Parfums Collection’ Souvenir de Louis Amade throws its blooms in large clusters. Loosely double in shape, golden stamens show through as the lavender-pink petals unfold and open. The plant is bushy and healthy producing blooms to the ground.
    Breeders Rights International 03 9775 3113

    The Alnwick Rose (Ausbonny)(Pictured right)

    The plant has pretty rich pink, cup shaped buds that gradually open to a deeply cupped flower; later developing into a broad, full-petalled, cup shape flower of lovely soft pink. The flowers are paler at the outer edges and the progression is beautiful at all stages. The Alnwick Rose has nice, rounded, bushy growth and a good Old Rose fragrance with just a hint of raspberry.
    David Austin Roses 03 9889 5453

    Wildeve (Ausgrab)
    ‘Wildeve’ has many of the features of a good ground cover rose combined with all the quality of flower of an English Rose. The flower buds are blush pink at first, opening to flowers of blush pink touched with apricot. Flowers are medium in size, perfectly rosette-shaped and distinctly quartered. ‘Wildeve’ has a pleasing fresh, fruity fragrance. It repeat flowers very well. ‘Wildeve’ was pre-released in small numbers, late 2004.
    David Austin Roses 03 9889 5453

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