Translation of a Dutch article, published in the October 2018 issue of ‘Rozenbulletin’, the periodical of the Dutch Rose Society and also published in the ARBA Annual 2019
By Monique Nuijten
On September 7th, 2018 the 55th International Rose Competition, the ‘Royal Concours International de Roses Nouvelles de la Ville du Roeulx’ took place in Roeulx, Belgium. After the trial there was the baptism of the rose ‘George Lawrence Price’ bred by Jaak van Gampelaere, a Belgian amateur breeder.
International rose trials are always great fun to experience and for the last few years I’ve been a member of the International Jury in Le Roeulx, Belgium. This year the 55th Royal Concours International de Roses Nouvelles de la Ville du Roeulx was held. The city of Le Roeulx is a small town located near Charleroi, where in 1962 in the park belonging to the castle of the Princess of Croÿ-Roeulx this international trial first started. In 1980 the collection was moved to the gardens of the former Saint-Jacques hospital at the Faubourg de Binche, where nowadays the trials are held.
Three large plots of land with rose bushes, organized as a chessboard, form the ‘Jardin Concours International de Roses Nouvelles du Roeulx’. The first plot is for the roses that are the subject of the competition of the year in question, the second for roses that are evaluated the following year and the third for roses that are grown for three years as climbing roses. Each plot contains more than a hundred new species that have never been put on the market. The roses have no names yet and of each variety three or five roses have been planted.
Welcome of the International Jury
On the Thursday evening prior to the trials there is a meeting for the International Jury in the Cultural Center of Le Roeulx, where we can already catch a glimpse of the beautiful scenery with gigantic flower arrangements. Before the meal is served, the international guests are introduced and welcomed with loud applause. Breeders, growers and rose enthusiasts from Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Monaco, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Spain, Ireland and Poland were in attendance. During these introductions it is necessary to understand some of the French language or have friends nearby who can translate! But most of all it is a social gathering with friends and a lot of beer, made available with love by the mayor and owner of the brewery (and sponsor) in Le Roeulx.
Inspection and baptism
On Friday morning at 9 am the members of the International Jury, the permanent jury and the breeders gather in the gardens of the Saint-Jacques Hospital for a light breakfast, speeches and instructions, after which we start our activities around 10 am. This year it was a tough assignment as in just under two hours, the international jury has to assess over 120 varieties on health, general image, flower and fragrance and give points between 0 and 30 with a maximum score of 100, with the scent part having a score between 0 and 10. In previous years, the international jury was divided into two groups, each with a halved list, so that each member of the jury only had to approve half of the number of roses.
Because of the long dry summer, it was a challenge for both the roses and the growers, and by a particularly beautiful – a poem recited in three languages – understanding and consideration was asked for the fact that perhaps (!) not all the roses where at their best. The night before it had rained a lot and on the day itself it was questionable whether we would keep it dry. Fortunately, we only had a brief drizzle and it was enjoyable to work between the roses in the beautiful garden, complemented with beautiful visual art. The fragrance part often yielded the most work, by having to go down on one’s knees to the single rose that sometimes was the only one there to be sniffed at. Fortunately, there was scent to be discovered in a large number of them, with only a few without any perceptible fragrance, as will later also appear in the results.
After work had been completed, there was ample time to talk to each other while enjoying a snack and a drink or to visit a ceramics exhibition.
At noon there was the baptism by the Princess de Croÿ and a Canadian colonel of the rose ‘George Lawrence Price’, a 2011 seedling from (‘Rotilia’ and ‘Asperin’) by Jaak van Gampelaere. George Lawrence Price (1892-1918) was a Canadian soldier who was killed 2 minutes before the ceasefire in the First World War in Ville-sur-Haine, Belgium, and the presence of the Canadian Colonel during this baptism was especially impressive.
Around 1.30 pm we were expected back in the beautifully decorated Cultural Center, where after an excellent lunch the award ceremony took place. This is always a very festive and formal part of the competition, in which the various dignitaries, including the president of the Competition, Emmanuel Delhove, Mayor Benoît Friart and the Comtesse Henrianne de Briey, the new chairman of the WFRS are at the forefront and handing out the prizes. The nice thing about this ceremony is that volunteers with small vases with a sprig of a winning rose walk among the guests and so give us the opportunity to admire each rose from up close and to smell the fragrance.
Of the 120 new varieties submitted by 32 growers from 13 countries, some 27 won a prize and a few of these winners are:
In the Park Roses category, the Silver Medal and Fragrance Award were awarded to a pink rose with number 362-64 from Raphael Roses from New Zealand, represented by the Dutch rose nursery De Bierkreek.
In the category climbing roses a Certificate of Merit was awarded to the rose ‘VISeureye’, a climbing Hulthemia hybrid of Martin Vissers from Belgium.
In the category Floribunda the Gold Medal was awarded to a pink rose with the code number MR-663 from Michèle Richandier from France and a Silver Medal to the soft yellow rose with the code number KO 05 / 2188-02 by Kordes from Germany.
In addition, a number of other Certificates of Merit winners deserve mention: FAIRY-VIRGO, a white ground cover from Van de Pasch (the Netherlands), KO 07 / 2102-01, a soft pink spray rose from Kordes, KSX 341, a light pink spray rose, from Shunsuke Takeuchi, Japan and Lake Como, an orange spray rose from Rose Barni, Italy.
All in all, it was again a special experience to be able to be part of the international jury in Le Roeulx. Two days of intensive contact with growers, breeders and friends of Rose Societies from other countries, all whose eyes sparkle as soon as you talk about roses.