WFRS Regional Convention in Nanyang, China

WFRS Regional Convention in Nanyang, China
Delegates at the opening of the the new gardens at the Nanyang World Garden Expo.

Johannesburg-Singapore-Gongzho-Nanyang or Johannesburg-Beijing-Shenzhen-Nanyang, and return – the multi flight route Kate Warr and I undertook on the way to the WFRS Regional Convention in Nanyang, China.  It was certainly a relief to see representatives of the Nanyang Convention team at the airport to meet us and transport us to the Holiday Inn.

The Holiday Inn Nanyang was the Convention venue and provided accommodation to the many delegates.  Nanyang, not being on the main tourist route in China, did not offer much in the way of the English language!    Fortunately, 400 “volunteers” had been appointed to assist with the language problem – one per international delegate with a few to spare.  These young people were studying English at a college or university and my Sophia was indeed a great help to me during the 5 days in Nanyang.

The opening ceremony was at the Nanyang World Garden Rose Garden which was also celebrating its opening.  This Rose Garden consists of a north, east and west gardens.  The East Garden being the core.  A total of 5100 rose varieties and 1.4 million plants adorn the park.  Our time was spent in the East Garden as we weren’t afforded sufficient time to explore the other two sections.  Greeting teams were all over the park, seats had been reserved for us in the 2nd tier and photographers were in abundance!  The actual ceremony was beautifully choreographed and Kate and I were “in the mood” despite the cold and slight drizzle.

Delegates at WFRS Convention in Nanyang
Having fun in Nanyang at the World Garden Expo! Kate Warr and Barbara Wood at the recently held WFRS Regional Convention in Nanyang, China

Lectures commenced back at the Holiday Inn at 14h00.  The opening lecture was by Viru and Girija Viraraghavan from India.  The title of their talk was “Intrepid Roses – how roses reached Indian gardens by perilous paths, treacherous seas, from swamps and high mountains.”  Viru and Girija were one of the reasons I decided to come to Nanyang.  I have heard them talk at conventions twice before and they really are a mine of information on the rose in India.  I was also lucky enough to travel on the flight with them from Gongzho to Nanyang.  It was an interesting and informative talk and I thoroughly enjoyed their time at the podium.

Other lectures were: “The wild roses in Xinjiang and its use in breeding for cold-hardy roses” – Sui Yunji (China); “Flora fragrance of rose rugosa cultivars in rose village of Pingyin, China” – Naomi Okubo (Japan); “The different ploidy of old China roses and their use in breeding” – Ji Naizhe (China) – I am afraid I was totally lost in this “ploidy” explanation!  Ploidy is “the number of sets of homologous chromosomes in the genome of a cell or an organism…”; “The most beautiful and important rose gardens in Europe” – Bernd Weigel (Germany).  A very personal presentation and some of the delegates felt Bernd had missed some of the important European gardens. And then it was time for dinner!  A full 1st day and good reason for a sound night’s sleep.  (This was after a visit to TV station for an awards and art performance.)

Monday 29th April was a 9h00 start with the 1st lectures: “In search of eco roses” – Ping Lim (USA) and “Genetic study helps new variety breeding in roses” by Li Shubin (China).  My favourite part of the morning’s proceedings was the panel discussion on root stock uses by 6 breeders from China, USA, France and the UK.  The “general” feeling expressed was that root stock is not a popular breeder’s medium except in China.  China’s amazing standard roses or tree roses could not be produced without the use of root stock.

Tree roses
Tree roses in China

That afternoon we visited 2 rose gardens and nurseries and finally the Nanyang Rose Expo Garden.  This is the largest rose planting base in China and they supply 80% of the domestic market.  It is planted over a 200ha area, began in 2010 with a total ‘to date’ investment of 50 million Yuan.  The tree roses in the garden were absolutely amazing.  Even Kate at her height of 1.78 meters was overshadowed by these roses!

Tuesday 30th lectures started at 8h30 with “The creation of new roses as designed” – Jim Sproule (USA) another presenter I heard in Uruguay and Denmark and thoroughly enjoy; “The great David Austin’s English roses” – Michael Marriot (UK).  Michael had the most beautiful pictures of David Austin roses and gardens.  Further lectures included “Roses in the era of internet” – Jiang Zhengzhi (China) and “40 years among my roses” – Dominique Massad (France). 

In the afternoon we revisited the Nanyang World Garden Rose Garden and had some retail therapy at a jade market.

In the evening it was the gala dinner and handover of the WFRS flag to India.  Impressive, precise handover and a very pleasant dinner.

May 1st was a full day tour of the Dinosaur Relics Park, Neixiang County Magistrates’ Office and the Sheqi Shan-Shaan Guildhall in Shedian Ancient Town.  Being a public holiday, there were many Chinese families visiting these sights especially the Dinosaur Park.

Presentations were made of future conventions including Kolkata, India; Adelaide, Australia and the Heritage Rose Conference planned for in Brussels, Belgium.  All very well done and informative.

May 2nd  saw me starting my return journey to South Africa.  A very interesting and enjoyable visit to Nanyang, China.

Barbara Wood

(More detailed accounts will be given in the next ROSA Annual.)

GRRS Garden Visit

GRRS Garden Visit

The Society visited Adele van Staden’s beautiful garden in Melrose as our first function of 2019.  It was a beautiful morning and we all enjoyed walking around the exquisite garden and admiring the roses, hydrangeas and azaleas.  We once again had rose blooms in identification bottles and this is proving to be a popular stop at the tea table. 

Garden visits are definitely our most popular events.

MRS 2019 AGM

MRS 2019 AGM

MRS Day with Tanya Visser and Ecobuz

MRS Function: 24 April 2019

Tanya Visser and the Ecobuz product “Humigro”

Members were treated to a very special presentation of 3 new
ECOBUZ products

Humigro: For feeding the soil

Startgro: an early growth nutrition

Multigro: all in one vitality nutrition

Karen Tocknell from Mango Moon introduced the guest speaker, Donvae Hooker who gave a very interesting and informative power point presentation of the new products. We were then shown wonderful photographs of Tanya Visser’s garden and saw the results of using these products. It was a real privilege for us to have Tanya as a very special guest speaker and as usual, her presentation kept us well entertained throughout the talk with lots of laughs.

MRS members were given samples of the new products as well as the latest copy of the Gardener magazine. Karen Tocknell also sold the product and other items after the talk and we will be offering these products to our members very soon.

This function was arranged to show members how to display their roses for competitions and a few members stayed on to  hear Gill Wilson  tell them about showing their roses.

Once again a most delicious tea was supplied by the committee and donations were collected for the Heritage Rose garden.

KRS Propagating Roses workshop

Thirty members and friends met at beautiful Bosky Dell on Saturday 30th March for a demonstration on propagating roses.   Rae Gilbert, a born teacher with a vast rose knowledge and wide experience in growing roses gave a riveting demonstration and talk on how to grow own root roses in palm peat and vermiculite.  She reminded us not to infringe on royalty laws and how to care for the newly propagated stems. Members had brought stems from their gardens and labels, made from yoghurt cartons. Some folk took  the newly planted stems to care for at home and when established and mature, they will be used for KRS prizes and gifts.

Members brought a few roses from their gardens to discuss, the most interesting being distinguishing between ‘Cecile Brunner’ and ‘Bloomfield’s Abundance’. They also provided the raffle prizes and brought mugs and water for the tea while the committee brought delicious eats.

Members’ cuttings

A very informative and happy morning was spent in beautiful surroundings for which we are most grateful to Rae Gilbert.

The next KRS meeting will be held on 18th May when a member of the committee is going to teach the members to do decoupage with rosy paper napkins.

GRRS visit Highveld Mushrooms

Miles of buttons at Highveld Mushrooms

Twelve GRRS members journeyed out to Highveld Mushrooms on this Wednesday morning.  What an interesting and inspiring visit.  John was an exceptional host and we all came away with 3 punnets of the most delicious mushrooms.

HRSSA & Friends host Sheenagh Harris


How fortunate to have rose friends en route to a holiday in Natal…

Rob and I spent 3 most enjoyable days with William and Clare Meyer on their beautiful property, Sunset Farm outside Mooi River where they have 2,000 roses – fifty ‘Zulu Royal’ up the drive to the entrance to the garden and then an avenue of  ‘Icebergs’ in full bloom welcoming guests to the homestead where the Granny’s by the 100 takeover.  Clare has a number of OGR’s and generously gave me some to take to Rae Gilbert to add to the collection at Bosky Dell.  As we left Sunset Farm, on the verge I found a Rosa Bracteata MacCartney flowering as late as January.

From here Rob and I travelled through the Eastern Free State hoping to see ‘Clarens Centenary’, ‘Clocolan’ and ‘Ficksburg’ in the towns of those names.   That night was spent with Rosemary and Gordon Bentley on their farm outside Ladybrand on the way to Maseru.  Rosemary joined the HRSSA at its inception in 1998 and has been a regular attendee of conventions ever since, often coming with Barbara Long, Ingrid Rohde and Karine de Bruyn. Rosemary kindly invited the others to dinner together with Pam Parr who immediately joined the society, so there was much reminiscing about the rose world.  Rosemary’s roses were only just recovering after a drought so there were not many flowering but she is a keen OGR grower.

How fortunate we are to have such hospitable rose loving friends round the country.

MRS Award winning exhibit at ‘The Witness’ Garden Show – by Gail Birss

MRS Award winning exhibit at ‘The Witness’ Garden Show – by Gail Birss

Floral arch at Garden Show
The floral arch ‘entrance’ to the exhibit. Photo-Susan von Zuilekom

The theme for this year’s Witness Garden Show was ‘Articulture”.  I googled it to see what that meant. Briefly, is using plants and flowers in different types of arrangements to create some form of art. But what to do?? Then I thought about the Royal wedding (Meghan and Harry’s) and that magnificent arch outside the church at Windsor Castle. We had to recreate that and of course with weddings, you do use flowers in different ways.

A sub-committee was formed with Susan von Zuilekom, Dawn Pellew, Louise Arthur and Mary-Anne Elstob and they all agreed that a wedding was our answer. Susan spent hours on her computer, ‘photo-shopping’ old churches and then painstakingly putting photos of roses from her garden to create the arch. She created a masterpiece!!

I contacted Flamingo Flowers in Kenya and they once again donated 2500 roses!!! Elizabeth Thornton-Dibb agreed to transport the roses from Johannesburg to Maritzburg on the Tuesday, collecting them from the South African agent in Krugersdorp as well as fetching more greenery from the Johannesburg market.


I contacted member, Sandra Tretheway from Farmgirl Flowers in Wartburg and asked if she would like to join the sub-committee. She agreed.

While we were debating where and how we would build the floor, she suggested doing it on their farm. From then on things changed and only got better and better!!

We have for years done everything when preparing our stand, from sawing wood, hammering in nails, building walls, plastering walls, fetching, carrying, pushing, pulling. You name it, we did it! Sandra Tretheway arrived with her staff who did all these things for us. I suggested a small ‘hanging thing that they have at weddings’ over the table. Sandra asked why just over the table but why not over the whole stand and so it was made on the farm, brought to the show, and hung up.

We arranged the flowers all around the edges and in the centre with the 2 sides draped. Her staff then hoisted this huge steel contraption up. She also supplied us with more foliage, more roses and more flowers.

So many members arrived to arrange the stand and when it was completed, it took your breath away. It was magnificent!!! The public loved it, we loved it and as Nancy Gardiner said, “For impact you should have got 38 out of 35!”.  But the remarks and accolades we received were wonderful. As well as receiving a Gold Medal for our exhibit, we won the People’s Choice by a huge majority!!

My thanks to everyone involved in creating this masterpiece, but especially to Susan for her backdrop and Sandra for her huge contribution. A magnificent team effort!!

Gail Birss