Experts select roses that will make great garden roses for the homeowner using natural care products.

This past Memorial Day weekend a jury of International Rose Experts met once again in the historic Biltmore Rose Garden to judge the 2nd annual Biltmore International Rose Trials. Located in Asheville, NC, the rose garden at Biltmore has been in continual use since its initial planting in the late 1800s, making this an apt setting for such a trial.

A permanent jury judges the roses eight times over a period of two years. The roses are judged based on criteria such as disease resistance, overall attractiveness of the plant, fragrance, continuity of flowering, etc.  The goal is to select roses that will make great garden roses for the homeowner. To this end the Biltmore Trials are a sustainable rose trial in that only natural care products are used.

This year the big winner at the Biltmore trials was the rose 'Miracle on The Hudson' hybridized by Robert Neil Rippetoe. This marks the second year a relatively unknown hybridizer has received top honors. The Biltmore trials take pride in being very accessible to "amateur" rose breeders, and coordinators of the program make this possible in a two ways.

First, like most International Rose Trials, an entry fee is not required. Many beginning rose breeders fund their operations out of their own pocket, making it difficult to afford such entry charges.

More important in terms of accessibility is what size of plants hybridizers can enter in the Biltmore trials. Unlike most trials that require two year old bareroot plants, Biltmore will accept down to a one gallon own root plant. As hybridizers need supply only six plants per variety entered, this makes it easy for them to be a part of the trials.

To ensure smaller roses are planted on equal footing at the start of each trial round, all the roses entered are potted into three-gallon containers and grown on in cold frames at Biltmore. This work, overseen by Biltmore Rosarian Lucas Jack, means all the roses entered start the trials on equal footing. In fact, this year’s big winner from Robert Rippetoe were entered as one gallon own root plants.

Parker Andes, Biltmore’s director of horticulture, is committed to continuing the trials in the years to come. Biltmore Rosarian Lucas Jack handles the day to day care of the roses, and coordinator Paul Zimmerman oversees and directs the trials. The Biltmore Rose Garden is one of the oldest rose gardens in the United States. Biltmore Estate founder George Vanderbilt was dedicated to plant knowledge and the first school of forestry was on Biltmore land. The estate continues managed as a profitable, privately owned working estate by the family. Hosting the Biltmore International Rose Trials adds to the estate’s rich horticultural history. 

The winners of the second annual Biltmore International Rose Trials

George & Edith Vanderbilt Award for Most Outstanding Rose Of The Trials (Best in Show)
“Miracle On The Hudson,” bred by Robert Neil Rippetoe of California. Available through Roses Unlimited.

Award of Excellence For Best Established Rose
“Honorine de Brabant”

Frederick Law Olmsted Award for Best Groundcover
“Sweet Drift” bred by Meilland in France, distributed by Star Roses and Plants. Available at garden centers nationwide.

Edith Wharton Award for Best Floribunda
“Tequila Supreme” bred by Meilland in France, distributed by Star Roses and Plants. Available at garden centers nationwide.

The Honorable John Cecil Award for Open Group
“Pookah” – polyantha bred by James Delahanty and available through Burlington Rose Nursery in California.

Gilded Age Award for Best Climber
“Bajazzo” by Kordes, available through Roses Unlimited.

Pauline Merrell Award for Best Hybrid Tea
“Francis Meilland” bred by Meilland in France, distributed by Star Roses and Plants. Available at garden centers nationwide.

Chauncey Beadle Award for Best Shrub
“Miracle On The Hudson,” bred by Robert Neil Rippetoe of California. Available through Roses Unlimited.

Cornelia Vanderbilt Cecil Award for Most Fragrant Rose
“Munstead Wood” bred in the UK by David Austin Roses and available in the U.S. through David Austin Roses in Tyler, TX.

William Cecil Award for Best Growth Habit
“Miracle On The Hudson,” bred by Robert Neil Rippetoe of California. Available through Roses Unlimited.

Lord Burleigh Award for Most Disease Resistant
“Miracle On The Hudson,” bred by Robert Neil Rippetoe of California. Available through Roses Unlimited.

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