Rose brings sweet success

CHAMPION OF CHAMPIONS: Avid Mid Canterbury rose grower Pauline O'Leary with the bountiful rose plant My Mum in her Ashburton garden.
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The aroma of roses fills the air at Pauline and Joe O’Leary’s Ashburton home this time of year.

About 50 different varieties of the classic bloom fill their garden.

One particular variety among the colourful garden display attracted national attention recently.

Pauline gained top honours for her entry of the voluptuous pale pink My Mum variety, winning the Champion of Champions award at the National Rose Show in Timaru.

The entry also took out the long stem rose champion award.

‘‘I was thrilled to win both categories, the win was a bit of fluke,’’ Pauline said.

Pauline has a passion for roses and has been growing them for about 30 years.

Her interest began after her children were older and she had more time.

Living north of Wellington at the time, the house she and Joe were in had five standard roses up the path.

Pauline said she liked them and was invited to join the Wellington Rose Society.

In 2000, the couple moved to Ashburton.

Pauline joined the Ashburton Rose Group, the Ashburton Heritage Rose Group and the South Canterbury Rose Society.

‘‘When the national rose shows are held, it can get very competitive, especially with those who attend from the North Island,’’ she said.

It was six years since a rose show had been held in the South Island.

‘‘When I attend the rose shows in the North Island, I judge but don’t enter, as it’s a lot of work to get your flowers there, it’s an effort to pack them for transportation.’’

‘‘Each category of rose is judged at the shows, and a champion bloom is chosen for section and from all the champions an overall bloom is chosen as Champion of Champions,’’ Pauline said.

For the long stem category there must be at least three flowers open on the stem, and any buds must be at least a quarter open.

It isn’t just a case of Joe digging the hole and Pauline planting the rose.

The bushes require watering, pruning and keeping pests such as spider mites at bay, which isn’t easy.

‘‘Sadly some roses have disappeared over the time.’’

Pauline said she enjoyed showing her roses and attending shows where there were roses to buy and exhibits to view.

Joining the various rose groups had been wonderful, especially the friendships she had made.

‘‘It is unfortunate that our membership numbers have decreased over the years, as younger ones aren’t joining the groups,’’ she said.

Among the different varieties in her garden, which included mini and climbing varieties, she said she did not have a favourite.

‘‘The mauve ones seem to be harder to grow, so I don’t have a lot of them,’’ she said.