Burnett: Kelowna is coming up roses

Everything is coming up roses, as the old saying goes. What a show our roses are putting on for us this year.

I have always said there is no better bang for your buck than roses, and now that we have so many fabulous landscape roses available to us, that sentiment has never been more true.

When I cut my teeth in the 1960s selling roses at our family garden centre, there was much less to choose from.

In fact, there was no such thing that we would refer to as a landscape rose, although I suppose the still popular rugosa such as Hansa and F. J. Grootendorst might be classified as a landscape rose.

The big three as we used to call them consisted of Hybrid Teas, Grandifloras and the Floribundas.

Without going into too much detail, these were the three main groups developed after 1867 which began what we call the modern era of rose growing with the first, a Hybrid Tea named La France.

After that the floribunda was developed in the late 1800s and the Grandiflora in the late 1940s.

In the early ‘60s, a gentleman by the name of David Austin began his journey of breeding old rose varieties with modern roses. Austin eventually developed a whole new class he named English Roses.Today, the world now knows them as David Austins.

In the ‘70s, a breeder in France began the Meidiland series which in my mind were the first true landscape roses.

Prior to then, it was unusual to have a mass planting of one variety or colour as most rose gardens were comprised of a mixture.

The Meidilands were meant to be planted en masse and bingo—instead of having masses of juniper everywhere, we began to see oceans of colour from June to October.

In the early ‘80s, the folk at Meidiland introduced the variety Bonica, which became the first landscape rose to receive the coveted all Amercan Rose Selection. Today, it is still one of the most popular roses in the market place.

In my mind, however, the landscape rose did not become as important as it is today until our own Canadian breeders got into the fray.

The Explorer series—with names such as Champlain, Henry Hudson and John Cabot—is prairie hardy and gaining popularity all over the world for its many other attributes.

One of my favourite Canadian introductions is the Morden series. Morden Blush and in particular Morden Sunrise.

For anyone looking to purchase roses, this is the perfect time because most are in bloom now at the garden centres.

So choosing a colour can be done without relying on a picture.


The Kelowna Garden Clubs annual Flower Show will take place  Saturday, July 7, at Guisachan Heritage Gardens, 1060 Cameron Ave., from l0:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

I will be conducting a tour of the gardens from a historical perspective at 1:30 p.m.

Check out  for more info.

Tune in to The Don Burnett Garden Show on AM 1150 from 8 to 10 a.m.

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