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Rose Trials at Biltmore

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Parker Andes in the Biltmore Rose Gardens

One of the highlights of my visit this summer at Biltmore Estate was being toured around the gardens by the knowledgeable Director of Horticulture, Parker Andes (above). Parker and his team maintain Biltmore Estate’s 75 acres of manicured gardens and the 3-mile Approach Road, Andes manages the property’s extensive woodlands and pastoral landscapes. In this capacity, he directs the forestry, grounds maintenance, landscape, and gardens crews – a total of 50 expert horticulturalists, groundskeepers, arborists, and equipment operators.

Although Biltmore and roses share a 120-year history that began with the prestigious designer, Fredrick Law Olmsted, Parker Ande’s modern-day leadership has helped the garden and landscaping teams build and keep a world-class presence in the garden world. Biltmore’s rose gardens (see below photo credit Christopher Shane) are particularly beautiful and serve a useful purpose – they function as a national rose trialing testing ground. More than 150 varieties are planted by Biltmore’s expert horticulturalists and judged annually at the rose trials.

Emily Wilson Rosarian Mulching 3

Autumn Rose Care

Biltmore’s on-site rosarian Emily Wilson gave me a few tips for fall rose care (see Emily mulching in the garden above and tips below).

Autumn Rose Care Quick Tips

Pink Rose with Pollinating Bee copyright Shawna Coronado

  1. Mulch around the base of the rose plant with natural mulch such as leaf mold compost to hold in moisture and protect the root system. However, do not amend the soil heavily as too much non-native soil amendment can create an over-fertile environment for the roses root systems and later create growth concerns.
  2. Clean up ground clutter and cut diseased or injured stems back in fall.
  3. Late fall cut most modern full-sized roses back to 1/3 to 1/2 their normal height. Do not do this with climbers and shrubs; cut them back in the spring.
  4. Starting in early fall, stop deadheading your rose bushes and simply pull off spent petal blooms, reserving any rosehips for winter interest.
Rose Garden Christopher Shane (002)

This year the 2016 Biltmore International Rose Trials will be selecting winning roses in 12 categories next week – definitely plan to attend if you are near Asheville, NC. Each trial lasts two years and a permanent jury judges the roses four times per year. This year’s final round of competition started with 31 entries planted in 2014 from Canada, the U.S., France, Ireland, Great Britain, and Germany. The international jury will be judging the final round starting at 9 a.m. on Sept. 24 at Biltmore; plan a visit and see the fall roses making their show.

Peach rose with pollinating bee copyright Shawna Coronado


Polar Express Sunbelt Rose

Rose experts selected Polar Express Sunbelt, a gorgeous white rose bred by Kordes (KORblixmu) took the George and Edith Vanderbilt Award for Most Outstanding Rose of the Trials (right).

Polar Express Sunbelt also won the Edith Wharton Award for Best Floribunda and the William Cecil Award for Best Growth Habit which makes it a “winner takes all” selection. Congratulations Polar Express Sunbelt!

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