Mike Athy is commited to developing the very best new rose varieties
for you. From the beginning Mike has not thought of his seedlings as
roses but simply as flowering garden plants. "They must outflower the
other plants in the garden and of course, be as scented, healthy and
trouble free as possible".
In the mid 1990's Mike began hybridising roses with the goal of
producing roses which would be colourful and as maintenance free as
possible. From those early beginnings he now makes approx. 6000 crosses
per season which will yeild around 60,000 seeds. The seeds are planted
in benches under cover after having had six weeks chilling in the
The young plants pop up in early September and they will see their
first new blooms in mid October. "These young plants are evaluated on
their bloom form, colour and overall attractivness. Anything that is
not up to standard is ruthlessly pulled and dispatched to the bonfire".
By July the seedlings growth will have slowed down and they can be
transplanted outdoors. "Here the young plants are left completely to
their own devices and we can evaluate their resistance to disease and
quality of bloom cycle in a natural outdoor environment". A completely
approach is held and all breeding and evaluation is done by hand.
the seedlings are planted outdoors they are no longer sprayed, or in
fact given any extra care other than watering when necessary. They must
fight to survive and prove they are worthy of continuing on with.
The select few varieties that pass this rigorous trial are budded onto
multiflora rootstock and watched for a futher few years. After a total
of around eight years only a few will shine sufficiently to warrant
being marketed. Budwood from these few are sent to agents around the
world where they are reviewed once more in the various climates of
"Throughly tested here in NZ and also by agents in 14
can be assured that our roses are the very best available".
"I have become increasingly interested in the diversity within rose
species. Very few species have actually been used to produce the roses
we know today. This suggests that there may be a great deal of
in using underutilised varieties to create some exciting new roses".
Currently Mike is working on fragrant foliage and has selected a few
attractive clones, some with fresh apple scented leaves and some with
foliage that smells very strongly of pine. "This adds a whole new
dimension to roses for the garden".
I am also working on improving the bloom size and petal count on the
extra healthy shrub roses.
little piece of NZ in your garden
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