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Joy in the Rose Garden

July 22, 2021

By Alex Henderson, Curator of Collections, Royal Botanical Gardens

Exciting things have been happening in the Rose Garden based upon information gathered in 2020. Last year’s rose evaluations by RBG’s dedicated volunteer team have led to some minor changes, including adding two new sustainable rose cultivars to the collection. Rosa ‘KORjuknei’, sold as ALEXANDRA-PRINCESS DE LUXEMBOURG®, is a 2009 introduction by Tim Hermann Kordes. A robust shrub rose with pink petals and a pleasing strong, sweet fragrance, its flowers contain 100 to 120 petals in small cupped clusters in an old-fashioned flower form. This rose blooms in flushes throughout the season, and offers large, glossy and very healthy foliage.

ALEXANDRA-PRINCESS DE LUXEMBOURG® was kindly donated by Toronto’s Ulrika Laurence, Foreign Trade Counselor of Luxembourg. Since the new Rose Garden’s opening, we have been very grateful for Ulrika’s interest and support for the rose collection. The addition of these two roses is thrilling as Luxembourg has a rich history of rose cultivation. In 1855, two gardeners, Jean Soupert and Pierre Notting, began specialist rose growing at their nursery in Limpertsberg. The roses they produced won many international prizes and their success encouraged other rose growers in Luxembourg to similar accomplishments. By the early 1900s Luxembourg had become a centre for rose breeding. More than 260 cultivars were developed there, and it became globally known as Rose Country. This remained the case until the outbreak of World War I.

soft pink rose

ALEXANDRA-PRINCESS DE LUXEMBOURG® was named to honour the 18th birthday of Princess Alexandra of Luxembourg, the fourth child and only daughter of Luxembourg’s Grand Duke and Grand Duchess.

Our second new addition is a Canadian introduction by Brad Jalbert, proprietor of Select Roses in Langley, BC. Introduced as ‘Peter’s Joy’, this floribunda rose is an outstanding blend of peach pink with the most unusual veining to the petals which age to apricot, making it one of the most remarkable flower shades in this colour. The blooms have more than 40 petals and form large eye-catching clusters with fluted petals that flower in flushes throughout the season. Fragrance is mild to strong, pleasingly fruity and reminiscent of citrus, lemon and licorice. Foliage is thick, heavy and robust. ‘Peter’s Joy’ was evaluated under stringent performance criteria over a seven-year period to truly test its genetics. It is hardy, drought-resistant, heat- and shade-tolerant, and resistant to blackspot and other diseases. It is ideal for beds, borders, containers, cut flowers, exhibition display, informal hedges, landscape plantings or as a specimen plant. A very endearing feature of this cultivar for RBG is that it is named for Peter Kukielski. Former curator of the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden at New York Botanical Garden, and currently proprietor of The New Millennial Rose Garden, Peter is the rose consultant who advised on design and rose selections for the redesign of our Rose Garden.

Peach rose

We’re thrilled to add ‘Peter’s Joy’ to our collection to acknowledge Peter’s significant contributions in helping to create a sustainable Canadian rose garden for the 21st century.

Photo courtesy of Peter Kukielski

One of the most asked questions asked about the rose garden is “Where do we buy these roses?” In this instance. both cultivars were acquired from Palatine Fruit and Roses in Niagara-on-the-Lake. These roses are Ontario-grown and are regionally adapted to our site conditions. Palatine’s growing philosophy means they are grown sustainably by experts with an emphasis on holistic approaches to soil management, and because the roses were sourced locally, the plant acquisition carbon footprint is kept to a minimum. All of these factors support the ongoing sustainability goals of our Rose Garden.

These new additions were planted in October 2020 by Hendrie Park staff and as of writing, both are thriving in the collection. Our evaluation of the plants in this leading edge garden are critical in identifying roses that have superior genetics in relation to blackspot resistance, landscape value, bloom abundance and fragrance. The five annual evaluations (which take place in June, July, August, September and October) are designed to harvest data objectively. By utilizing this type of empirical approach, the sustainability and resilience of the collection can be improved cultivar by cultivar as new roses of superior performance replace those with inferior performance traits.

Eric Abram, Hendrie Park Horticulturist, planting ALEXANDRA-PRINCESS DE LUXEMBOURG®
Eric Abram, Hendrie Park Horticulturist, planting ALEXANDRA-PRINCESS DE LUXEMBOURG®
Jonathan Clarke, Hendrie Park gardener prepares the beds for planting
Jonathan Clarke, Hendrie Park gardener prepares the beds for planting.

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