In our daily lives we have to deal with making choices. Whether it is what to wear, what to eat, what route to take to where we are going. In many cases the choices come easy such as what we wear can be decided on the weather or what road to take is dependant on the shortest route to where we are going but on other occasions our choices must be made on other factors.

The greatest joy for companies is when consumers make a choice and continue to purchase that product. For example, if I asked what toothpaste do you use some will say Colgate while others will only use Maclean’s. How often do we change the brands we know and are confident in? In most cases I feel we do not change even if the packaging changes, price increases or even if the product is in short supply, we will look in another store to find our known brand.

So what makes us purchase a particular product ahead of another? It may be factors such price, quality, availability, reputation, referral, through to obscure reasons such as packaging, gimmicks or even the quaint advertising jingle. Marketers and Promoters work in every way to create the brand we will stick with and keep purchasing for as long as possible.

For me, I am a fan of Quality and Reputation. One links with the other for the quality product we produce creates our reputation, which in turn is our reputation for quality. In the world of quality products it is not too hard to name 12 products at the high end of the market. Luxury cars, French Champagne, Belgium Chocolate, Swiss timepieces to name a few. In these products we see quality product, consistently, and promoted as the finest money can buy.

In my years of interest in marketing and promotion I have seen many interesting advertising concepts with companies trying to make us change to their brand or product. In South Australia the aim for consumers is cheapness with sales, ‘25% off’, ‘closing down specials’, ‘we won’t be beaten for price’, ‘haggle’, ‘$2.00 shopping’, etc. The aim is to get a consumer into the store and hope to keep them shopping there in the future.

So how does all this relate to roses? Roses are a product like all others and as such we must find ways to lure gardeners to purchase what we produce. It is interesting what direction nurseries go to lure consumers to purchase their roses. We see in the rose nurseries – largest range, best quality, lowest price, oldest nursery, roses and other plants, largest plants, sun hardened, Australian made, and finest from the worlds leading breeders. In all these there is one factor that is common, they all sell roses. With winter bare-root rose selling time approaching how do we select the right roses?

The main criteria on which to choose would relate to what you are looking for and how confident you are in their product. All rose growers grow the same way yet most have different criteria to what they stipulate as quality. Some may have enormous plants with canes the size of your thumb yet others may have a product that some would say is spindly and should not be sold. Truth is you cannot judge a rose on the size of the plant in front of you. I have seen huge 4-5 year old plants being sold that do not grow well then planted. These old plants do not redily produce basal water shoots so a new plants frame work cannot be produced.

In the rose world we have miniatures through to climbers and in between the most popular type of  bush roses. The diversity is enormous. An example is the variety ‘La France’ a low growing bush which does not produce a large plant for sale so cannot be compared to a variety such as ‘The Children’s Rose’ which is huge and will always produce good strong looking plants. The main factor that applies to all varieties is the quality of a rose is always hardness. In winter a well-hardened rose will be totally dormant when purchased and should have minimal or no dying back of the canes when planted.

But how can we know if the plant is properly dormant?

  1. Only purchase roses in the correct selling period, Late May through to Early September (depending on the break of spring).
  2. Remove one thorn on a cane and the bark underneath should be grey or brown not watery or green.
  3. Choose specialists rose selling companies or garden centres first.

Remember the price you pay is normally related to the quality of the plants available or the rarity or newness of the variety or the service given.

When considering what roses to purchase where do we start. There are thousands to choose from with each looking fantastic on the picture label. To make things easier for those contemplating purchasing roses consider the following as a rough rule.

  • Older and non-protected varieties (new releases are more expensive than up protected roses) are normally well proven varieties that are worthy of a place in the garden. Names such as ’Gold Bunny’, ‘Bonica’, ‘Just Joey’, ‘Mister Lincoln’ or ‘Iceberg’ have proven themselves and will give much joy and colour. Reliable choice.
  • Varieties still under ‘Protection’ but that have been on the market for many years , some examples, ‘Aotearoa’, ‘Brass Band’, ‘Courage’, ‘Simply Magic’ or ‘Eden Rose’ (Pierre de Ronsard). For introducers to keep paying protection costs, the varieties must be returning a good income to the breeders overseas and worthy of keeping protection going. A rose specialist should be able to help with year of introduction and popularity of older protected varieties. Reliable but slightly risky.
  • Newly protected varieties. New roses can give gardeners a wonderful choice with exciting colours, plant sizes, new flower forms or interesting foliage and some will in the future be in the best sellers basket. However time will always tell and unless the variety is exactly what you are looking for you may buy a dud. I have heard many times of new roses being purchased and then dug up after a short period of time when the plant did not come up to expectation. Risky but good ones do exist, but with care.
  • Australian developed roses. It stands to reason that if the variety was bred here, selected for Australian conditions here and extensively trialed here it should be the best roses for Australian conditions. In virtually all cases the Australian bred roses have shown superior sun hardiness, drought tolerance and ability to cope with Australian conditions better than nearly every rose bred overseas. Another factor of importance to some is no royalty payment is sent overseas to breeders as the roses have been developed here in Australia. This must be better for Australia. Mostly variety can be purchased with confidence.

Australian bred roses seem to be the future for roses in Australia. The number of breeders developing new roses are continuing to rise and the number of overseas bred roses is starting to fall. Roses developed and tested in hot, dry conditions will be better suited than those trialed for growing in ice, snow and severe cold. Locally bred roses are better for the Australian economy as the huge royalties paid overseas to breeders do not apply to those bred in Australia.

One last point to consider. Be careful with being swayed by award winning roses being highly promoted. Many of our greatest roses have never been entered in Trial grounds such as ‘Pink Flower Carpet’, ‘Playtime’ or ‘Just Brilliant’, yet are some of the biggest sellers. Others such as ‘Amazing Grace’, ‘Passionate Gardener’, ‘Deane Ross’, Lady Phelia’ or ‘Flinders’ are also huge sellers yet did not receive Gold Medals in the Adelaide trials. Trial ground awards give the consumer a guide only that the variety was healthy and flowered well but does not cover other items that makes a great rose.

Now is the time for a little homework for the time spent looking at what to plant will be rewarded when the variety you choose gives you the joy you deserve.


Created  8/2/2015