David C. Zlesak, University of Minnesota Extension Educator
Photo 1: Carefree Spirit™ shrub rose. David Zlesak
Carefree Spirit™ (shrub rose), Pink Promise™ (hybrid tea rose), and Cinco de Mayo™ (floribunda rose) are the three new All-America Rose Selections (AARS) winners for 2009. These roses have proven themselves as top performers among dozens of entries over two seasons of evaluation at over 20 official test gardens across the country.
Carefree Spirit™ is a cheerful, single-flowered shrub rose with a profusion of red blooms with white eyes throughout the growing season. It is relatively compact in Minnesota, producing a mounded, slightly spreading plant that reaches a couple feet in height and a few feet in width. Carefree Spirit™ is a descendant of the famous Carefree DelightTM and shares its strong disease resistance. Carefree Delight™ is an AARS winner from 1996 and is still very popular in northern landscapes. Both roes were bred in France at Meilland International and introduced by the Conard-Pyle Company of West Grove, Pennsylvania. Beginning in 2004, the AARS trials have stopped spraying preventatively with fungicides on the landscape trial roses (of which shrub roses are included). Carefree Spirit™ was in the trials in 2005 and 2006 (2007 and 2008 were needed for propagation) and is the first winning landscape rose since this change, attesting to its disease resistance.
Photo 2: Pink Promise™ hybrid tea rose. David Zlesak
Pink Promise™ is a classic hybrid tea, producing large flowers on long, cutting-length stems. Double, well formed blooms are a beautiful blend of pink and white. The flowers are richly fragrant and plants have above average disease resistance for a hybrid tea. This rose has done particularly well at trial sites in cooler regions of the country. Pink Promise™ was bred by Jim Coiner and introduced by Coiner Nursery of Lavern, California. A portion of the sales will go to support breast cancer education and early detection efforts.
Photo 3: Cinco de Mayo™ floribunda rose. David Zlesak
Cinco de Mayo™ is a colorful floribunda that produces flowers with a unique combination of orange with purple overtones. It is a prolific flowering, vigorous plant like one of its parents, AARS winner Julia Child™. The deep purple new growth adds extra interest and excitement to the celebration. Cinco de Mayo™ was bred by Tom Carruth of Weeks Roses located in Rancho Cucamonga, California. He also bred a similar colored rose, Hot Cocoa™, which was a 2003 AARS winner.
AARS has a strong Minnesota connection
There are two official AARS test gardens in Minnesota: the Lyndale Park Rose Garden located in Minneapolis near Lake Harriet (AARS site since 1946) and the Virginia Clemens Rose Garden in St. Cloud, MN which was added relatively recently (2005). These gardens have the unique distinction of being the two most northern AARS test sites. Both of these test sites are open to the public, allowing gardeners to have a sneak preview and try their hand at predicting future AARS winners. These gardens also provide the opportunity to observe present and upcoming trends in rose breeding and marketing. For instance, in recent years there has been an increase in the proportion of shrub or landscape roses. This reflects the greater interest among rose nurseries and the general public for lower maintenance roses for landscape use. If there is a rose you find that you particularly enjoy and it does not win an award, that does not mean you will not have the opportunity to buy it in the future. Many of the roses that do not win AARS awards will also be introduced if they perform well at least regionally or have some traits which make them especially unique.
Photo 4: Lyndale Park Rose Garden in Minneapolis. David Zlesak
In addition to the two official Minnesota trial sites, there are two additional AARS gardens in Minnesota that serve as display gardens. These public gardens receive plants of AARS winners the season before they are official winners. This gives the gardening public and press an opportunity to observe the new winners early at four Minnesota locations. The two Minnesota AARS display gardens are the Leif Erikson Rose Garden in Duluth and the Nelson Shrub Rose Garden at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska. The 2010 winners will be featured in these four Minnesota gardens and well labeled beginning in June 2009 so as not to add confusion and detract from the spring sales of the 2009 winners.