The first roses were planted at the Central Experimental Farm soon after it was established in 1886. William Saunders, first director of the Farm, published a list of “desirable” roses in 1895, after a few years of testing some “majestic and perfectly formed varieties cultivated in modern times”. Variety testing continues today in the Heritage Rose Garden.
Rose breeders were active at the CEF over about 90 years, from William Saunders, whose ‘Agnes’ rose is still on the market, to Isabella Preston in the 1920s, who bred several roses, such as the ever-popular ‘Carmenetta’. More recently at the Farm, Felicitas Svejda created the beautiful, hardy Explorer roses.
In the Heritage Rose Garden today, there are climbing roses, ground covers, English roses, hardy roses and many ancient roses that are not widely grown today.
In the “Rose Catalogue“, Edythe Falconer lists the roses in each area of the Garden, providing the cultivar name, type, height, bloom frequency, colour, shape, fragrance, other characteristics and, in most cases, photos of the roses.