The Biltmore International Rose Trials were started in 2011 as way to test and showcase new varieties of roses from around the world. They are an environmentally friendly trial designed to be accessible to all rose breeders–from professional to amateur.
The trials take place in the main walled rose garden at the historic Biltmore in Asheville, NC, originally designed by Fredrick Law Olmstead. The garden now houses over 2000 roses comprised of over 250 varieties. The garden’s formal layout, its close proximity to Biltmore House and talented gardening staff make it an ideal setting for an International Rose Trial.
Based on the rules of other International Rose Trials in Europe, the Biltmore Trials take place over a two year period. A new trial is started every year so at any given moment there are two trials running consecutively. The roses are judged 8 times over the two year period by a permanent jury made up of gardeners, gardening media and horticultural experts. The makeup of the permanent jury is designed to reflect a broad range of gardening interests – not just rose growers. Judging is done during peak bloom in spring, the dog days of summer, peak fall bloom and in winter just before pruning.
In May, at the end of each trial period, an International Jury will come to also do a round of judging and that is the day winners will be announced at an awards luncheon.
Winners are announced in several different categories. The first is by Class such as Hybrid Tea, Shrub, Climber, Groundcover, Floribunda and Open Class, which are roses that do not fit in the five main classes. Additionally, awards may be given for fragrance and disease resistance. The highest scoring rose of all wins the top award. The Biltmore International Rose Trials also feature a Guest Choice Award. This award is selected by the public, who can text in their vote right from the garden throughout the two year trial period..
In an effort to make the trials accessible to all rose breeders, roses can be entered in sizes ranging from a one gallon own root to a full sized bareroot plant. Each breeder is allowed to enter two varieties, six plants of each variety are needed and the rose cannot have been in commerce more than two years anywhere in the world.
Care for the roses is done using environmentally friendly products such as organics. Chemicals can be used, but only as a last resort. The goal is to care for the roses in the same manner as the back yard gardener.
Some of the roses in the Trials may find their way into the newly launched Biltmore Garden Rose Collection and even make their way into national distribution for sale to gardeners. The collection is comprised of the best new garden roses from around the world. Ground covers to climbers, shrubs to Hybrid Teas and beyond; all the roses share in common good disease resistance and varying degrees of fragrance.
Biltmore was built by George Vanderbilt at the turn of the last century and furnished with treasures from around the world. At one time the Biltmore Nursery was one of the largest commercial plant nurseries in the United States. Now, a century later, it is home to a Trial for treasures from the International Rose World, some of which will continue the tradition of bringing beautiful plants to United State’s gardeners.
Paul’s Rose Chat Radio Interview
To listen to the Paul’s RoseChat Radio interview, click here.