By Jill Brooke
Drumroll please. The prestigious American Rose Society—whose team of experts are not only flower lovers but educators and cheerleaders for what is our national flower—has unveiled its big winner for Members’ Choice Rose for 2020.
“The Olivia Rose Austin is the Members’ Choice Award winner,” says executive director Jon Corkern.
Each year the award winner is determined by ratings provided by ARS members nationwide participating in the society’s annual Roses in Review survey. Each rose is rated on bloom production, plant habit, disease resistance and hardiness. Earning the ARS Members’ Choice Award designates this rose as one of the most reliable and easiest to grow of the new garden roses.
That is the piece we love about their selection. Easiest to grow. Because roses can be, well, prickly.
Some of them are gorgeous but require diligent and dedicated gardeners to grow well. And we salute those who are up to the challenge. But many of us—me included—don’t like churlish and demanding flowers and just want to pop my rose bush in the ground and watch it blossom.
The Olivia Rose Austin, grown by the Tiffany of breeders David Austin Roses, is a medium pink shrub with flowers that are 3½ inches with 40 petals and a strong, fruity fragrance. Foliage is glossy; growth is vigorous to about 3 feet.
Here are the stats that got them first place:
‘Olivia Rose Austin’ has a garden rating of 8.5 (a very good to excellent rose) and an exhibition rating of 7.9 (a very good rose for exhibition) by reviewers in the 2019 Roses in Review.
Among the raves were comments like these: “Hardy, with beautiful pink blooms, often in large sprays. It is quick to repeat its bloom and is a strong grower.”
Good to know.
Meanwhile, just for fun, we are also including pictures of roses from previous winners the past few years as well as the list of winners since 2004.
Because as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “There is simply the rose; it is perfect in every moment of its existence.”
2019, South Africa
South Africa Grandiflora, deep yellow, Kordes; flowers golden yellow, large, dbl., high-centered, borne in large clusters, moderate fragrance; free-flowering; foliage very disease-resistant; vigorous (5 ft.) growth; int. by Ludwig’s Roses, 2001; Golden Prize, Glasgow, 2006.
2018, Daddy Frank
Miniature, dark red, 2009, Tucker, Robbie; flowers petals dbl, 1½-1¾ in., fragrance: none; foliage dark green, semi-glossy; prickles slightly downward, few, red to brown; growth upright, medium (3 ft.); exhibition, cutting, garden decoration; [seedling x Memphis King]
2018 Fragrance, Neil Diamond
(Fragrance began in 2018) Hybrid Tea, pink blend, 2013, Carruth, Tom; flowers dark pink striped white, reverse white suffused with dark pink, 10-13 cm. , fragrance: intense; foliage large-size, dark green, glossy; prickle
Past Winner List:
2004: ‘Knockout’, shrub, red blend, single
2005: ‘Gemini’, hybrid tea, pink blend, 25-30 petals
2006: ‘Bees Knees’, miniature, yellow blend, full
2007: ‘Hot Cocoa’, floribunda, russet, full
2008: Not Awarded
2009: ‘Julia Child’, floribunda, medium yellow, full
2010: ‘Home Run’, shrub, medium red, single
2011: ‘Cinco de Mayo’, floribunda, russet, double
2012: ‘Joy’, miniature, pink blend, double
2013: ‘Easy Does It’, floribunda, orange-pink, full
2014: ‘Randy Scott’, hybrid tea, white, full
2015: ‘Dick Clark’, grandiflora, red blend, full
2016: ‘Cooper’ miniflora, medium red, 2008
2017: ‘Oh My!’ floribunda, dark red, double, 2011
2018: ‘Daddy Frank’ miniature, dark red, 2011
2019: ‘South Africa’ grandiflora, deep yellow, 2001
Photo credits: All images courtesy of American Rose Society
Jill Brooke is a former CNN correspondent, Post columnist and editor-in-chief of Avenue and Travel Savvy magazine. She is an author and the editorial director of FPD.