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.)