Beauty 10 years in the making

Did you know that by the time you buy a new rose bush it has actually been developing for over a decade? That’s how long it takes Rob Somerfield from Glenavon Roses, one of New Zealand’s top rose breeders, to develop a rose.

But why does it take over ten years to grow a rose?

Firstly, Rob says that rose growing requires patience. There are so many variables when it comes to rose growing that the chance of a rose seedling making it to the next round of breeding is pretty slim.

“I really enjoy rose breeding but it’s not easy,” says Rob. “I grow 20,000 roses from seedlings each year, and maybe only keep 5% within that first year.”

Secondly, if a rose makes it past the first year, then it may stay in the observation stage for a further four years. If the rose then makes it to the next stage of selection it will be trialled for a couple more years. The lucky roses that make it past the trial stage then get taken back to Rob’s nursery to be budded up and multiplied, adding another few years to the process.

Finally after more than ten years of growing, trialling and bulking up, the rose goes to market, and the stunning rose that catches your eye in store makes its final resting place in your rose bed at home.

Rose growing is an impressive and intensive process, and Mitre 10 has been lucky enough to become the sole retailer for one of Rob’s newest rose varieties, the Looking Good Rose.

“I can’t tell someone that they’re going to like a rose of mine,” says Rob. “But this rose has won five awards, four of which were publically voted so people must enjoy it.”

Rob donated the rose to the Look Good Feel Better charity, a charity that helps women undergoing cancer treatment to feel better through makeup, skincare, skills and a positive attitude.

Look Good Feel Better ambassador, Joan Swift, chose the name of the rose.

“I’ve always wanted to have a rose for our charity and Rob’s rose was a lovely pink colour that goes well with Look Good Feel Better” says Joan.

“When people take the rose home and it flowers, they can look at it and know that they’ve helped a woman with cancer today."

Rob Somerfield from Glenavon Roses

To make sure you keep your Looking Good rose looking good, Rob gave us his three top tips for rose care at home:

  1. Feed your roses well as they will become diseased if under stress. Look out for nitrogen, phosphate and potassium (N, P & K on the feed label) in your fertiliser as they are vital for a rose to thrive. Our Rose Food Fertiliser and Novatec Mini Flower & Rose Fertiliser are good options.
  2. Always try to ensure you’re buying a healthy bush otherwise you’ll be battling with it from the start. Make sure the rose bush isn’t cut too far back or has damaged roots otherwise it will have a high chance of failure.
  3. When buying a potted rose make sure to give them lots of water, even if the soil looks moist, and plant them well to help establish their roots. Choose a spot in the garden that gets at least five hours of sunlight a day, and keep weeds away from the rose to help retain water. If you don’t establish them well from the beginning then they might not flourish. For more tips on planting a rose you can read our Easy As guide.