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Portland Best Rose

Portland’s Best Rose

Anne Jaeger

Sure they say “A rose is a rose is a rose” but not when it’s ‘Day Breaker.’

‘Day Breaker’ is a deal breaker when it comes to roses. This rose has four inch yellow buds opening into sprays of flowers with shades of pink and then apricot. The flowers actually change color all season. It has the kind of senseless beauty to make ‘Day Breaker’ Portland’s Best Rose for 2005.

How’d one rose get such honors? Portland’s Best Rose competition is held every summer in the Washington Park International Rose Test Garden. And if you are looking for exciting new roses to plant in your garden, the results of this competition tell you were to start. (See Info) Portland’s Best Rose honors the top rose on that particular day; rain or shine, flowering or completely finished, the rose gets one4 crack at it. Only roses introduced in the last five years are eligible and the rose bush has to be two years old to be entered.

Roses and Winners

This year’s winners come in all sizes, shapes and colors. Astounding, really. And let me tell you, the roses were spectacular on judgment day this year. Best I’ve ever seen. I assure you, that made it very difficult to choose just one “best” of the bunch. Rose growers from all over the world often come to this event and smile from ear to ear when they win. Why? Awards translate into more sales. And before we talk about how the pro’s take care of their roses (I knew you’d want to know) a little history for you from the annals of the rose business. ‘Day Breaker’ was brought to the United States by Phil Edmunds, owner of Edmunds’ Roses out of Wilsonville. The tiny seedling of this amazing rose popped up in the late 1970’s. The sprout caught the eye of third generation plants man Gareth Fryer of England. Now after 30 years, this guy’s discovery is causing a stir ‘across the pond’ in the U.S. You can always pick a winner when it gets the national seal of approval from the All American Rose Selections committee. The AARS is a non-profit rose organization which “evaluates new varieties in trial gardens around the country” for two years. And judging by that evaluation you can tell ‘Day Breaker’ excels in different climates and under very different conditions. And we seem to get them all here in Oregon, don’t we? So let’s talk about how to get those conditions under control.


Care Too Much About Roses?

Alright, so not all of the roses in our gardens are going to be show stoppers. But they can, with a little care. Harry Landers has been with the Portland Parks Bureau for 16 years. He’s is in charge of Portland’s big rose garden. And Harry says people care too much about roses, they make roses “too much work. They believe if they don’t cut the rose at this leaf and at this angle they’ll ruin the rose. Just cut off the bloom!” If you always seem to have a problem with diseases, don’t try to tell yourself everything will be great this year only to be disappointed when the hot weather hits. Some roses just have a proclivity for black spot and powdery mildew. Surrender now and take the hurt off later in the season. Sure, everything looks great when the new growth comes out but it gets ugly later with Oregon’s hot days and cool nights. That’s when we get rose leaves which look like they’ve been doused with talcum powder. The black spots on the leaves are a fungus caused by spores. Clean up all the dead and dying leaves as often as you can and spraying to call a stop to it. Harry says we should spray on a schedule, every two weeks. And alternate between to different rose fungicides (ask for them at the store) each time. If you don’t like chemicals— Try Rose Defense or Neem Oil. And start spraying when the rose is 3 feet tall in spring. Continue throughout the summer.

Right about now your roses could really use a feeding, too. It’s way past the last supper. So, if you’ve found a fertilizer brand that works, great; but for the money, the Portland Rose Society puts out the best rose fertilizer I’ve used. Call for availability near you. It’s not too late.

Now, here’s the biggest time saver “out with the old, in with the new.” Replace the problem children with new variety roses, bred to be disease free. You’ll save oodles of time and as the rose is my witness, I swear the 2005 Portland’s Best Rose winners are top drawer, Dar-liiink!



‘Portland’s Best Rose’ Winners


  • ‘Day Breaker’ Portland’s Best Rose 2005
  • ‘Neptune’ Most Fragrant Rose
  • ‘DayDream’ Best Shrub Rose
  • ‘About Face’ Best Grandiflora Rose
  • ‘Black Magic’ Best Hybrid Tea Rose