New name plates for heritage blooms

18/12/2014 2:00 p.m.

18 December 2014

New name plates have been installed today for the heritage roses within the Glad McArthur Gardens in Pioneer Park in Alexandra.

This was a joint project between the Central Otago District Council, the Central Otago branch of Heritage Roses NZ and the Alexandra Men's Shed, and arose from recent submissions to the Pioneer Park Reserve Management Plan calling for better identification of the roses within the Heritage Rose Garden.

The timing of the project is also a nice fit with the 200th anniversary of the first rose being brought to New Zealand by pioneers, says local Heritage Rose Society member Murray Radka.

"Christmas 2014 marks 200 years since Samuel Marsden arrived in a bay in Northland to hold the first Christian service in New Zealand. An early settler on the boat Marsden arrived on from Australia brought out two rose bushes to plant – including a China rose named Slaters Crimson China."

Mr Radka has recently returned from a pilgrimage to Northland where he joined other heritage rose enthusiasts to visit the site where the first rose was planted. He was also invited to speak earlier this month at the Australian Heritage Rose Conference in Tasmania, as he has the largest collection of heritage roses in New Zealand at his property in Brandy Hill near Springvale – with in excess of 1000 different varieties.

This week Mr Radka joined CODC Parks Officer Nicola Copeland and Asplundh staff as the new name plates were installed, lending his expertise to ensure the new name plates were situated next to the correct roses.

The dedicated heritage rose garden in Pioneer Park was established in 2012 and was designed and developed by the Central Otago branch of Heritage Roses, and the Radka family, in partnership with CODC. Some of the roses chosen for the garden date back a thousand years, and most of the species represented in the garden would have been known and loved by our early settlers.

Mr Radka said there were 15 families of roses in the garden's collection and about 80 varieties.

Members of the Alexandra Men's Shed, who helped craft the name plates, stopped by during the installation and picked up a few tips on rose pruning while there.

Take a moment to discover this garden for yourself. And do stop to smell the roses as Mr Radka says heritage roses have a lovely strong fragrance compared to modern roses.

Page reviewed: 18 Dec 2014 4:20pm