A clear picture
Highwire Flyer, one of the A.R.T.S. 2020 Local Artist Roses
Star Roses and Plants

A clear picture

Features - ROSE trials

A.R.T.S. helps gardeners gain 20-20 vision for roses.

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May 2, 2019

American Rose Trials for Sustainability (A.R.T.S.) continues its work to trial and award roses with superior performance, providing growers and retailers the chance to profit from this iconic crop. These acclaimed selections also give consumers the chance to successfully grow roses. Eleven roses have earned 2020 A.R.T.S. Local Artist awards. Local Artist awards are regional awards recognizing superior performing roses tested under low-maintenance conditions. Of these winners, Screaming Neon Red is the sole 2020 winner to earn the highest A.R.T.S. award, A.R.T.S. Master Rose (roses winning four or more Local Artist awards), and becomes only the 12th Master Rose to date. The new and past A.R.T.S. winners will help industry members and gardeners alike enjoy 20-20 vision for roses as they seek to grow well-adapted roses that have a proven track record for excellence in their region.

Each year, more rose breeders send their most promising introductions to the A.R.T.S. national trial gardens to be evaluated under low-input conditions across the various U.S. climate regions. Each year’s set of trial roses are grown side by side with two industry standard/control roses that have well-documented strong performance in past research-Carefree Beauty (‘BUCbi’) and Knock Out (‘RADrazz’). The bar is definitely set high. After two full years of testing, the scores of the two industry standards are averaged to create a benchmark score. The test roses that outperform this benchmark in each climate region and have at least two-thirds of the trial roses in the region surviving to the end earn an A.R.T.S. Local Artist award. Gardeners selecting an A.R.T.S. Local Artist award winner for their region can expect to be very successful with this rose when providing basic plant care.

All deserving roses earn A.R.T.S. Local Artist awards, and there is no minimum or maximum number of awards. Having a solid and consistent benchmark eliminates the practice used in many trials of “grading on a curve” to ensure yearly winners. The debut of the 2020 A.R.T.S. Local Artist roses in May 2019 gives industry professionals an advanced opportunity to secure inventory of these strong performing and in-demand roses.

A step above

The A.R.T.S. testing methodology is the strongest, most scientifically-sound trialing protocol for a multi-site rose trialing awards program in the U.S., and possibly the world. Besides using industry standards in each trial as benchmarks, other solid scientific hallmarks include: ample spacing between plants to observe natural plant habit; plants of each trial cultivar are randomized separately throughout the beds with data taken monthly on each plant; and the evaluation protocol is straightforward. The thorough evaluation protocol, scientific rigor, focus on regional performance within a coordinated national program, use of modest nutritional inputs, no pesticides on the roses and strong trial site partnerships have allowed A.R.T.S. to raise the bar for independent, scientifically based rose trialing.

The A.R.T.S. Local Artist and Master Rose awards meet two key desires of the American gardening public. First, consumers desire, yet struggle to find, objective, accurate and research-based information from an independent source to guide their purchasing decisions. Second, to make the best use of limited time and hard-earned resources, people want to grow roses, as well as other plants, that have proven to be as sustainable, hardy, pest resistant and as beautiful as possible in their region. The A.R.T.S. team (university scientists, extension educators, public garden professionals and industry members with rose expertise) has made meeting these two goals the core of the A.R.T.S. mission.

Climate regions

The “regionality” of the A.R.T.S. awards means that nursery and landscape professionals along with home gardeners can be sure they are selecting plants that will perform well in their neck of the woods. Not every plant is going to thrive in every climate. While a particular cultivar may do well in the short, cool growing season of Maine, it may perform very poorly in the much longer and warmer conditions found in inland California. A.R.T.S. national test sites are strategically located throughout the continental U.S. and are hosted by partners that share the A.R.T.S. mission including botanical gardens, arboretums, municipalities, colleges and universities. A.R.T.S. defines its climate regions using the Köppen climate classification system, which is the preferred means used by ecologists. This system not only takes into account temperature, but also seasonal precipitation and humidity. The A.R.T.S. evaluation protocol has 45% of the score reflecting subcomponents of the health and quality of the foliage, 42.5% the presentation and quality of the flowers and 12.5% reflecting the plant’s growth habit. Climate can greatly impact all three of these evaluation categories. To find out which climate region of the country your garden is in, consult the Köppen climate map (pictured on page 17).

‘Listen’ to your local artists

With 30 roses now receiving Local Artist awards, a dozen of which are designated as A.R.T.S. Master Roses because of their wider adaptability, the momentum of A.R.T.S. continues to build. It is clear that A.R.T.S. is here to stay.

This spring, 15 A.R.T.S. national test gardens have already received, planted and begun evaluating a new set of trial roses. The spring 2017 A.R.T.S. plantings leading to the 2020 winners were planted in four U.S. climate regions. Thankfully, as of this year, A.R.T.S. has expanded to represent eight of the nine major Köppen climate regions of the continental U.S. The only one missing is the tropical southern tip of Florida. We believe A.R.T.S. has become the premier U.S. rose awards program and we are committed to continuing to strengthen the program.

For more: americanrosetrialsforsustainability.org

* Trial sites that hosted the 2017-2018 trials that determined the 2020 A.R.T.S. Local Artist awards.