Saturday, 20 September 2014

A fair trial


The other day I received an email from Thompson and Morgan asking me to trial a new rose for them, as they know how much I love a good rose ! The only proviso was that I write an unbiased blog post about it. "Was I interested ?" they asked. Was I ? Do bears pooh in the woods ? I answered in the affirmative, immediately ... and the parcel came today !



Being asked to trial a plant is both a joy and a responsibility. It focuses the mind on the task of looking after it as well as is humanly possible, to give it the best chance of achieving its potential. There is also excitement at growing something new... especially a new rose.

When I opened the parcel there were actually 2 roses inside, one in better shape than the other, as far as the foliage was concerned, but I'm sure that difference will soon be rectified by a few days of tlc, as it was no doubt caused by being packaged, without light, for several days.

On first sight, the roses were smaller than I had expected them to be, but when I checked the T & M catalogue, it specifies that they are supplied in 9cm pots, which they were, so my expectations were clearly unrealistic.

I saw a similar rose, ( 'Blue Eyes'?) when I visited the Thompson & Morgan Trial grounds in August this year, and was told that their new rose, 'Sweet Spot Calypso' is even better than that one. 'Blue Eyes' looked good to me, compact, with no black spot, and some flowers on it.



The rose I am trialling, ('Sweet spot Calypso') is termed a 'Decorator' rose, and it will  bloom continuously from June to October. It is low growing and compact, with a height and spread of about 50cm. It can be used as bedding, in containers, borders or ground cover, and is 'self cleaning' in that it sheds old petals. Although that would keep it looking tidy, I guess that it still needs deadheading with secateurs, otherwise it would develop hips and stop flowering. Pruning is nothing like as complicated as it is for many other roses - apparently just a light shaping and shearing is all that is required.


The flowers are 5 petalled singles, and are quite unusual, in that there is a darker eye in the centre which is red, this is surrounded by a ring of yellow, and then each petal is tipped with pink. There is a technicolour thing going on though, as the colours change as the bloom ages, so that there are many different shades at any one time. The foliage is dark green and new shoots are, pleasingly, red. The flowers are quite atypical for a rose, and I imagine that, to some people, it would not conform to the expected flower type and colouring.

The flowers remind me of 'Alissar, Princess of Phoenicia', although it is not related, to my knowledge. This is a lovely rose, and those single, dark-eyed flowers give me a lot of pleasure. It is a repeat flowerer, although it likes to 'rest' for long periods in between flushes of blooms.



'Sweet Spot Calypso', the Decorator rose, supposedly heralds a new breed of roses, with a long period of non stop blooms. It was bred from two unnamed Rosa hybrid seedlings, in Holland, and has taken 20 years to produce. Hardiness is given as Zone 5, which is around minus 20 centigrade, so no worries there, as much of Britain is Zone 8.

I must admit to not being keen on the term 'Decorator' rose as it smacks of buying books by the yard, or using artificial turf, or just doing stuff because it is easy on the eye, from a distance. It somehow implies that the plant itself is unimportant, and that the overall impression is paramount. I don't know how else to interpret the term, but I won't let it put me off the rose itself. 'A rose by any other name would smell as sweet' ... except that this one has no fragrance. To some that would be a deal breaker, as roses  are often chosen for their fragrance. Although I love scent, I have plenty of fragrant roses in the garden that I can bury my nose in whenever I feel the urge. 'Jude the Obscure' has fragrance to share, as does 'Wollerton Old Hall', so I won't begrudge  'Sweet Spot Calypso' for being scent free.


The roses came complete with a set of written instructions which were clear, concise and informative.


So, having two little roses to trial, gave me more opportunities than one so I devised a cunning plan! I  planted one in a container and put it in a reasonably sheltered place, for its first winter. The other I  planted out in a bed, ensuring it has full sun, and breathing space around it. In that way, it will be interesting to compare growth, flowering, health and vigour. The trial has to be honest and unbiased, and to do this fairly, I have to ensure that the roses are given the best possible chance to succeed in normal garden conditions.

 I planted the container rose in a suitably sized pot - not too big and not too small, and put a slow release rose fertiliser at the roots and used a good, more or less peat-free compost. As it needs a little tlc and nurturing, I have decided to leave it in the cool greenhouse for a couple of weeks to give it chance to recover. If the days are warm I shall move it outside, and bring it back inside at night.

I put the larger, more vigorous rose in the border, as I felt that it would cope better with the conditions than the smaller one, which will get more nurturing in a pot, having no competition for space, light and nutrients.





The rose in the bed was planted into a comparatively large hole, with fertiliser at the base, filled up with more or less peat- free compost. Both will be kept well watered.




As I try to garden organically wherever possible (never say never!) these roses will not be sprayed with anything, and any problems will hopefully be detected early so that they can be dealt with before they get worse. I will monitor them carefully to pick up any early signs of disease or pest infestation etc.

I am looking forward to seeing how they grow and develop, particularly as they are being grown in different conditions. I can't wait for that first rosebud to open next season ...








30 comments:

  1. I am currious how your roses will do!!!. It's the first time this year I did not use any chemicals against protecting the roses. A lot of them were nakes *without any leaves during the summer, but ater a long period new growth is coming. I am looking forward to see your roses in flower.
    Have a wonderful weekend.

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  2. It is hard to see your roses suffer but the balance usually comes right in the end ! I am glad new leaves are growing now.

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  3. I like single roses but am not keen on bicolourrs especially ones where the colours contrast so much. I also like a rose to have fragrance so I guess it wouldn't be one for me. I'm looking for climbing roses at the moment

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    1. I know what you mean Sue. It will be interesting to see what the flowers are like next season. I do like the idea of continuous flowering though :-)

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  4. Showy little rose! Like you, I'm not into the "decorator" style and I like my roses as specimens, not landscape fillers! Still, it's nice to be on the trial!

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    1. It is very showy! Like you I love specimens with their history, form and presence , but I am interested to see how this rose performs !

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  5. Good luck with your trial - it will be interesting to see how both plants cope with their differing situations. Good idea to do that I think.

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    1. Hi Angie, we will see ! You are right, it will be interesting to compare the performance of the two !

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  6. Hi Jane,
    I am excited for you! It really is an honor to be selected to try new plants. It speaks of your talent and reputation! I like Sweet Spot Calypso better than most single petaled roses.....it's very different.....Looking forward to the updates and pictures.

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    1. Hi Flower Freak, I really am enjoying this trialling stuff !! It is an interesting rose, and it is very different - still not sure about these 'Decorators roses' though !

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  7. How exciting being involved in a trial like this. I do love single roses but like you I am a bit put off by the name, Decorator.
    When I moved into my present garden it was full of roses with names like Happy Anniversary and Happy retirement. Imagine filling your garden with roses named just after events in your life? I choose roses in spite of their names not because of them. So if Decorator turned out beautiful I would buy it. But no fragrance? Perhaps not then. A rose has to smell good.

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    1. Hi Chloris, I know what you mean about roses named after events in your life, there is something a bit depressing about it. I must admit to buying a rose just for its name, I'm such a sucker for the English roses like 'Jude the Obscure' and 'Tess of the D'Urbervilles (mind you, they are gorgeous roses anyway!)

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  8. It will be fascinating to see how they do. I applaud anything that is self-cleaning, although I am not keen on roses without scent. Is there any great value to our pollinating friends?

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    1. That is a good question, Sarah, I will take note when the roses are flowering ...

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  9. Good for you, such a responsibility though! It will be interesting to see how both roses get on over the winter, I will look forward to your next report.

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    1. One of them is looking decidedly peaky ... I need the horticultural equivalent of chicken soup to restore it to full health!

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  10. It's a beauty, Jane. How fun to try a new one! I don't have many Roses in my garden because I grow organically, too. For the ones I do have, I follow a regular routine of cutting them back--especially after they finish flowering for the year. Of course, ours go completely dormant here in the north. I'll look forward to future posts about your new Roses!

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    1. That's interesting , so when do you cut them back ? I am getting tempted as blackspot is beginning to win the day! Whereabouts are you ? We are in Lincolnshire so ours go dormant too...

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  11. Such a lovely plants. I can wait to see the flowers.

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    1. Hi Endah. I know what you mean! i think it will be next season though ... long time to wait!!

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  12. Hi Jane, how exciting that you got chosen to try out these two new roses! I wish a rose breeder would knock on my door and ask me to test his roses... 'Sweet Spot Calypso' looks very interesting on the photo and I can't wait to see how it will turn out under your loving care. The other one is not so much my cup of tea, since the color is very bold and reminds of the 70s, but I always think different people like different roses and that is a good thing. Keep us updated how the roses are doing! Wishing you a nice rest of the week!
    Christina

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    1. Hi Christina, I am very excited to be trialling them ! You are so right, roses are such a personal thing, and although I love some of them very dearly, others I find really depressing - I think the Hybrid Teas just remind me of 1950's with rose beds containing acres of bare soil, spindly stems, and a few sad blooms !!

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  13. How fun! I'm sure they'll thrive under your skilled hands. They're beauties. I've never seen them here.

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    1. Too kind Tammy, but I think your faith may be displaced as one is looking decidedly peaky!!

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  14. I'm not that fond of scentless Roses, but I do like an easy to care for plant so I'll look forward to your trial results with interest. I do quite like the colours of the blooms.

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  15. Hi paula, the world is divided on scented roses ! I can forgive a beautiful rose for having no scent, but it would have to be very special.Easy care is always good !

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  16. What a nice opportunity! It will be interesting to see how the trial roses put into two quite different circumstances do.

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    1. Absolutely Jennifer,and I also know someone else who is trialling them on the south coast which is yet another environment . I wonder how they will cope in salt laden air ?

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  17. What fun! Not sure about the colouring, I'm rather conservative about roses, I didn't even like Rosa mundi, and the lack of scent would put me off,but it sounds a very useful size. I shall watch with interest...

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  18. I know what you mean Janet.for me they usually have to be floppy pastel doubles names after characters in the English classics ! bUT I will give this new guy on the block a very fair chance and see how it performs . Anything which blooms non stop for five months has to be worth investigating !

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