This month we Ask Philip about rose trends.
Where do you see the trends for roses going in their use in contemporary gardens?
I love this question, as the first hurdle we have to cross is the definition of ‘Contemporary’ in terms of gardens. We could use the definition that would lead us to believe it is minimalist, with features of hard landscape and architectural plants. Another interpretation of Contemporary is that it is in harmony with nature, that it is environmentally sound, which may be at odds with the hard landscaping materials with a high carbon footprint in manufacture, transport and weed control.
My instinct is that contemporary is or will become far more influenced by the orbit of wellbeing. An interpretation of wellbeing that incorporates the wellbeing of the planet, the local ecosystem and the individual gardeners, so this is the interpretation that I will use here.
As a Rose breeder you are always looking to the future, we have a seven or eight year cycle to produce a new variety. Here in early 2023 we are asking ourselves what will we want to produce for introduction in 2030 to 2035. Where will society be? What will the work life balance be? How much garden space will be available? What will the climate be doing?
In many ways the future is an extension of the past. The key elements in a rose that I believe will keep it popular and relevant in the contemporary gardens of today and tomorrow are based on the principle of a good foundation. A plant that is healthy, robust and very easy to care for is the starting point. We have to keep producing roses that do not need fungicides, which we have been working on since we stopped the use of fungicides in out breeding and testing fields in 1994.
If we have this foundation the rose has a prominent place in the contemporary garden. We build in multiple flower forms, the single flowers with just five petals, these are so perfect for bees and pollinators, the flower forms where there are numerous petals, these exhibit exquisite beauty. We breed in more and more repeat blooming to give the greatest value for the space occupied, and we have to add fragrance.
The contemporary consumer demands everything, which is a tough prospectus for any plant to achieve, the rose is so well placed to do so as there is no competitor that can combine so many wonderful features for so long in the season as the enduring rose. So long as there is love in the world there will be a love of and for the the rose. It is a symbol of love, peace and epitomises tranquillity in a garden. The rose will always be contemporary.
We loved hearing Philip’s thoughts this month. Stay tuned for next month on our Ask Philip series.