Bermuda’s Mr Rose
Like many beauty queens, prize roses can be temperamental and thorny but breathtaking when they are at their best.
Peter Holmes took home 15 first place prizes for his roses at the Agricultural Exhibition last week. Mr Holmes is a dedicated member of the Bermuda Rose Society and has more than 150 different roses on his Tee Street, Devonshire property.
One of his roses that won many prizes was his carefree beauty rose, a modern shrub rose. It won the best rose in show trophy, best in class, first prize and the bloom progression trophy, a separate entry.
“The trick [to having them at their best for judging] is to catch them when they are just starting to bloom,” Mr Holmes said.
Sometimes knowing the mind of a rose can be a mite tricky. He only won third prize for Bessie’s rose, because of mistiming. Some people say, a real lady never lets herself be hurried, and this proved true with Bessie’s rose, classified as a Bermuda mystery rose, because its original identity is unknown.
“The one I had at the agricultural show hadn’t opened properly,” he said. “That was in the morning when they were judged. By the afternoon, after the judging, it had opened properly.”
In a competition, prize-winning roses have to also be extensively groomed; leaves out of place or with brown spots are a ‘no-no’.
Although Mr Holmes said he “doesn’t do much” to the roses growing in his garden, he and his wife Felicity spend about two hours each day working with them.
The Holmes are of a slightly experimental nature, and are always willing to try new things to improve their garden. Right now Mr Holmes is trying horse manure on his roses. He said it is too soon to tell whether they will be improved by the manure. He has also tried growing roses straight out of large bags of Miracle Grow, a soil mix product.
“It’s worked out all right,” he said. “Next year I might try my own mixture using compost.”
He also feeds his roses twice a year with a mixture that includes bone meal, blood meal and magnesium sulphate, commonly marketed as Epsom salt.
In his back garden he has erected a raised bed of roses with old cedar and spice tree trunks to provide a jungle gym for climbing roses. The rose beds have been raised because he recently had his knees operated on and can no longer bend down as easily.
“I started growing roses about 15 or 20 years ago, but only got into it seriously about ten years ago,” said Mr Holmes, who is a quantity surveyor by profession. “I have always had a green thumb, so I have always grown plants and flowers. We have a slat house full of things. Most of my roses were bought from the Bermuda Rose Society or I grew them myself. They are about $30 for a small cutting.”
Like many growers he highly prizes his Bermuda mystery roses. He has 27 different types in his garden.
“I am most proud of all of my entire rose collection, although some of them grow better than others,” he said. “For example, I have a rose called ‘Françoise Juranville’. It was a mystery rose named after Elizabeth Carswell who is a former president of the Bermuda Rose Society. The mystery of Mrs Carswell’s rose was solved through DNA testing and it was identified as ‘Françoise Juranville’. It is a prolific rambler. It will grow an inch a day if it is not pruned regularly. I have let it go right now because it is flowering. ”
Mr Holmes said if you are looking to start a rose garden, you might start with Bermuda roses, which have grown on the Island for centuries with little intervention. They are survivors and have stood the test of time.
“They tend to do better than hybrid roses which are often meant to be grown in the United Kingdom and the United States and do not like too much heat,” said Mr Holmes. Hybrids are a genetic combination of two different roses, sort of like a mixed breed. They are often flashier and more fragrant than other rose types.
Mr Holmes thought August might be a good time to start a new rose garden, when cooler temperatures and increased rainfall are only a short time away.
“You don’t need to water your roses every day, but they like a bit of water now and again,” he said. “After prolonged periods of drought they do start to droop a bit.”
A good way to learn more about rose growing is to attend a meeting of the Bermuda Rose Society. They will be having their annual general meeting on May 4 at the Horticultural Hall at the Botanical Gardens. The public can have a look at roses on sale for members from 1pm to 2pm. The members’ sale is at 3pm. Membership is $30 annually and the group meets once a month, from October to May.
For more information visit www.rosesinbermuda.com, e-mail Mr Holmes at email@example.com or telephone 236-7410.