Roses forum: American Rose Trials for Sustainability (A.R.T.S.): first trial results

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Name: Carol H. Sandt
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (Zone 6b)
Peonies Butterflies Region: Mid-Atlantic Hibiscus Daylilies Xeriscape
Hostas Roses Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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csandt
Jun 7, 2017 7:32 PM CST
Mission of A.R.T.S.: "To identify, through regional evaluation and testing under low input conditions, the most disease and pest resistant, hardiest and most garden-worthy rose cultivars and to provide objective, accurate and reliable information about the cultivars tested for each region to industry professionals and the gardening public."

Results can be found here:

http://www.americanrosetrialsf...
Carol H. Sandt

“Once you stop learning, you start dying.” – Albert Einstein
Name: Lilli
Copenhagen, Denmark, EU
Irises Roses Bulbs Hellebores Foliage Fan Cottage Gardener
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Seed Starter Winter Sowing Bee Lover Dog Lover Region: Europe
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IrisLilli
Jun 8, 2017 7:30 AM CST
Very interesting and useful too! Thank You! I tip my hat to you.
You don't know if it will grow until you try!
Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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RoseBlush1
Jun 8, 2017 10:12 AM CST
I know it is very well intentioned and think it would be a fine tool, but as of now, I think it is junk science ... Sad

Their choice to use the Köppen climatic map makes the results of the trials totally useless for many who grow roses. The areas included in the regions are just too broad to be of use to determine whether or not a rose will do well in any given area.

I know I could never trust any of their recommendations for my current garden.

I do have a no-spray garden. However, I believe that it is more beneficial to study the plant characteristics of the roses that do well in my garden and select roses with similar characteristics for any additions to the garden.

I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.
Name: Steve
Prescott, AZ (Zone 7b)
Region: Southwest Gardening Roses Irises Lilies
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Steve812
Jun 10, 2017 1:00 PM CST
Thanks for the heads- up, Carol. It's always good to know about healthy roses. I, for one, would love to have a rose that would be confused with a bougainvilla. Green Grin!

RoseBlush1 said:I know it is very well intentioned and think it would be a fine tool, but as of now, I think it is junk science ... Sad

Their choice to use the Köppen climatic map makes the results of the trials totally useless for many who grow roses. The areas included in the regions are just too broad to be of use to determine whether or not a rose will do well in any given area.



Science does start with making observations, creating meaningful distinctions and categories, and trying to organize observations along the lines of those categories. I think that making the distiction between humid and dry climates is a giant step for the rose industry and I applaud the use of the Köppen system, which I have advocated for nearly two decades at RoseFile, taking the idea from Peter Beales.

One might reasonably argue that the Köppen climatic map is 100% useless for those who grow roses in California that were bred and (carefully) selected there. Or roses bred in southern France and grown in CA. It is also 100% useless for those growing roses in Shropshire, UK who would consider growing only roses bred and (carefully) selected and propagated there.

For pretty much everyone else, understanding the distinction between Humid Continental and Mediterranean climates, can make an incredibly huge difference in how roses in the same USDA hardiness zone fare with respect to blackspot and downy mildew when the roses they are considering have any weakness for either disease. My guess is that there are other factors affected by humidity. Humidity matters. Trial/observational models that only account for USDA cold hardiness will almost always produce bad results. The ways in which they do this are far too large to enumerate here.

That said, industry sponsored organizations definitely have their own biases. It looks to me that the people in California who are only interested in bigger HT roses in more colors with more fragrance will be sorely disappointed. So, too, those who make their livings photographing big flowers. But maybe some of the winners will make it into low maintenance gardens. And that would be a good outcome.
When you dance with nature, try not to step on her toes.
Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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RoseBlush1
Jun 10, 2017 1:21 PM CST
Steve .. that's way too much of a generalization ...

Growing a rose in a Mediterranean climate doesn't give a gardener a clue as to whether or not the garden is located in a humid or arid Mediterranean climate.

All it defines is that we don't get rain during the summer months. That is not enough information to tell anyone whether or not a rose will do well in their garden.
I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.
Name: Steve
Prescott, AZ (Zone 7b)
Region: Southwest Gardening Roses Irises Lilies
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Steve812
Jun 10, 2017 3:39 PM CST
RoseBlush1 said:Steve .. that's way too much of a generalization ...

Growing a rose in a Mediterranean climate doesn't give a gardener a clue as to whether or not the garden is located in a humid or arid Mediterranean climate.

All it defines is that we don't get rain during the summer months. That is not enough information to tell anyone whether or not a rose will do well in their garden.


One does need to know more than which Köppen zone one is in and which roses are well suited to that zone...

But... having a theoretical structure that takes into consideration humidity as well as temperature extremes goes a long way to fixing the major deficiencies in describing where a rose is likely to succeed. One might go further by grouping areas with similar soil characteristics. The Sunset Zone system, to some extent, does this, even if it does so accidentally. Sadly, even most Californians do not know their Sunset zone. I live on the cusp of, I think, four or six very different Sunset zones. So its fineness of distinctions breaks down horribly in my location. Of course, nothing works so well as actually planting the rose and finding out. The issue we are grappling with, however, is about making good choices prior to purchasing a rose; not about knowing and how we know with absolute certainty.

In my experience the two big causes of failure with roses in my garden relate to humidity/black spot problems and cold hardiness/need for late spring freeze protection. In NJ it was definitely the former. The Koppen Zone system takes both of these issues into consideration. After these two things, I can think of only one other problem that has proven terminal for a rose in my care - the issue of not actually having a greenhouse in which to grow roses to the five gallon size before planting them out... if they are to be truely viable. But that's more related to choice of supplier, plant size, and root system than it is to choice of cultivar. I will lay claim to the dubious distinction of killing more roses than anyone at this site, so I actually have very solid personal experience to demonstrate why these distinctions matter.

Mediterranean climates feature hot, dry air during much of the growing season. And there is very little, if any, frost. Humid Continental climates have air with higher humidity, causing and caused by more frequent rains. And annual temperature swings are much larger. Both of these distinctions are of crucial importance to many roses.

My guess is that every one of the five or fifty million gardeners who grow roses east of the Mississippi will tell you that resistance to black spot is of extreme importance where they live. Or else they only grow Knockout roses, certain old roses, Meilland landscape roses and a handful of other roses that are widely known to be completely immune to BS: in which case they can remain blissfully ignorant of the problem. This problem with black spot, possibly even more than cold hardiness accounts for the geographic difference in tastes when it comes to roses: the popularity of Knockouts and knockoffs, Buck roses, Kordes roses, David Austin Roses, and so on in the East, and the relatively higher focus on HT roses in the West. My guess is that most people who grow roses in the California are blissfully ignorant of the problem because the air is too dry for BS to flourish, even though a significant portion of their garden stock would die in a season if planted east of the Mississippi river in an appropriate USDA cold hardiness zone. Does BS exist in CA? Yes. Does it, in the absence of vigorous treatment defoliate roses for an entire growing season and render them dead? Almost never. In NJ it was an exceptionally rare HT rose that was not killed in a season by it. In the East the climate is Humid Continental. In California it is Mediterranean. Coincidence? No.

Humidity matters. At least now we have a commercial body making this distinction along with the one about cold hardiness. I think I might have cut my losses by half when I lived in NJ if this distinction had been applied to every rose in commerce: "Does it fare well in a Humid Continental climate?" I am happy to have the body of their work at my disposal. And I am happy for gardeners who suffer greater losses from BS than I do; at least they have another good place to start their search for gardenworthy roses.

I only found eight or nine roses in the list of ARTS qualifying roses, and hope the list gets quite a bit longer.
When you dance with nature, try not to step on her toes.
[Last edited by Steve812 - Jul 11, 2017 11:19 AM (+)]
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Name: Carol H. Sandt
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (Zone 6b)
Peonies Butterflies Region: Mid-Atlantic Hibiscus Daylilies Xeriscape
Hostas Roses Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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csandt
Jul 9, 2017 2:55 PM CST
Blog post about A.R.T.S.:
http://www.commonweeder.com/r-...
Carol H. Sandt

“Once you stop learning, you start dying.” – Albert Einstein
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Jul 9, 2017 3:00 PM CST
Do those that fail have f A.R.T.S.
Name: Amanda
KC metro area, Missouri (Zone 6a)
Roses Zinnias Region: Missouri Cat Lover Dog Lover Bookworm
Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: United States of America Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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pepper23
Jul 9, 2017 7:01 PM CST
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Name: Lilli
Copenhagen, Denmark, EU
Irises Roses Bulbs Hellebores Foliage Fan Cottage Gardener
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Seed Starter Winter Sowing Bee Lover Dog Lover Region: Europe
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IrisLilli
Jul 10, 2017 4:52 AM CST
Rolling my eyes. Hilarious!
You don't know if it will grow until you try!
Name: Carol H. Sandt
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (Zone 6b)
Peonies Butterflies Region: Mid-Atlantic Hibiscus Daylilies Xeriscape
Hostas Roses Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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csandt
Jul 21, 2017 9:18 AM CST
Two nearby public gardens, the Scott Arboretum and Longwood Gardens, conducted A.R.T.S. trials in southeastern Pennsylvania. Adam Glass oversaw testing for the Scott Arboretum. I contacted Adam to express my own concerns about A.R.T.S. and those that Lyn expressed above. My own personal gold standard for plant trials, based on my very limited exposure to them, are the Chicago Botanical Garden trials:

https://www.chicagobotanic.org...

and the Mt. Cuba coral bells trials:

http://mtcubacenter.org/trials...)

I suggested that all A.R.T.S. results should be published, not just those of the winners.

Adam forwarded the concerns I expressed, i.e., my own and those of Lyn (see post above), and today I received the following response from David Zlesak, representing A.R.T.S.:


Dear Carol,

Adam Glas forwarded your emails to us regarding your thoughts about the A.R.T.S. program. We welcome criticism and are continuing to work to make the A.R.T.S. program the best rose trialing program possible for new roses coming onto the market.

I would like to address some of the important points you brought up.

There are different kinds of plant evaluation/trialing programs out there, each with slightly different missions. Based on how they are set up there are different limitations and advantages for each. By understanding the factors and how things are handled for each kind trial we can better understand the unique role and value they provide to the horticulture community.

A.R.T.S. is very different than the coral bells trial you reference along with trials such as the Earth-Kind® trials (many of us scientists that are part of A.R.T.S. manage Earth-Kind trials) and other trial programs in that within A.R.T.S. we are working with very new cultivars not necessarily on the market yet. Unlike the coral bells trial and similar genera-focused trials conducted such as also at the Chicago Botanical Garden, A.R.T.S. is different in another key aspect. A.R.T.S. is not a one time trial at a single location. A.R.T.S. is an ongoing effort with new entries each year and trial sites across the nation. Therefore, A.R.T.S. is more similar to the All America Selections program where new cultivars are compared to market standards across the nation and those that perform well relative to the market standards earn an award designation. Both A.R.T.S. and AAS focus on newer cultivars as they come onto the market and have to work with industry closely to be able to have access to these cultivars before they are propagated in great abundance and widely available.

Showcasing all the roses trialed with their cultivar names, including those not earning awards (basically losers), as they come on the market, as you suggest, is very problematic. Both AAS and A.R.T.S. cannot do that for some key reasons. Since the trial relies on nurseries making entries of their newer roses, having roses basically being given bad publicity closes the door to participation and makes nurseries wish they never entered their nonwinning roses. When they enter roses, many of these newer cultivars still are in limited supply and it is great they are sharing these plants with us to learn more about their roses' performance and for the public to benefit by learning from an independent voice those that performed well and earn an award. We need to be gracious to industry.

A.R.T.S. as AAS are unique in that for them to work it is the result of great partnerships between public gardens wanting to be on the cutting edge of horticulture, academics applying their scientific protocols to plant evaluation, and industry to learn more about newer cultivars before they become widespread. As we share data at the end of each year with the breeders on their rose along with the reference or check cultivars it benefits industry to know how their rose does where. They may choose not to promote a rose in a particular region, pull it from contention, or maybe promote it more, especially if it does well in the region and wins.

The public wants to know what roses did well. Highlighting winners that performed well regionally as they are becoming more widely available to purchase serves our stated mission and the needs of consumers and other stakeholders (garden center buyers, public gardens, landscapers, etc.). Highlighting cultivars that did not perform as well as market standards across the regions that were entered by nurseries by their cultivar name versus code number compromises relationships with breeders and is not necessary to meet our mission of benefiting the horticulture community by highlighting the strong performers.

We recognize communicating data as fully as possible is important. We will do more reporting of the performance of the winning roses in the future. We are very cautious as we move forward with the program to carefully make sound decisions and are beginning to work with trial sites to develop informational sheets, etc. that highlight winning cultivars in their region which will provide data on the winning cultivars relative to the controls. Sound data is sound data. Period. It does not devalue the data of winning roses to not report data on non winning roses. Data on winning roses along with data for the reference cultivars people are familiar with is of great value to the horticulture community and provides perspective. We are here to promote roses that people will highly likely be successful with in their region based on regional data generated over two growing seasons. This is a great benefit to people to have this independent voice in the marketplace and not have to rely solely on marketing claims of nurseries of these new cultivars. Not reporting the data on varieties entered that do not win awards clearly does not make A.R.T.S. or AAS’s contributions void of meaning and “junk science”.

Earth-Kind® and single site trials for genera hosted by botanical gardens focus on purchasing lots of cultivars and putting them side by side in a very large planting for a limited duration. That is very valuable too and often focuses on cultivars that have been on the market for some time. These older cultivars typically are in abundant supply versus the newest cultivars which may not even be released yet. Since plants are purchased typically of established cultivars in the marketplace for these cultivar trials, there is not the same collaboration needed and relationship with breeders/industry to navigate. There is room for both kinds of trials and both provide benefit to the horticulture community. What is nice about a trial like A.R.T.S. is that the benefit is ongoing to consumers as new cultivars keep coming out and they get information on winning cultivars on a routine basis. Prestigious botanical gardens and universities value both kinds of programs. Prestigious botanical gardens and universities recognize the value of being part of a trial like A.R.T.S. working with new cultivars in a timely way that continues year by year. Many are very excited about partnering with A.R.T.S. and the coordination and resources we provide. The benefit is not only participating in generating ongoing information on cultivars as they come on the market, but also value participation due to the scientific rigor that is a hallmark of A.R.T.S.

Unlike the coral bell and many other plant trials, A.R.T.S. uses the well established scientific methodology of of blocking with randomization to spread out plants of a cultivar across a trial site. Data is taken on each plant. The value of this is that it strengthens scientific rigor in that statistics can be done to partition out the effect of variety and soil type / conditions in a part of the garden. When all plants of a cultivar are planted in a row in only one part of the garden, the impact of any microclimate condition cannot be separated and therefore confidently understood from the performance of the variety statistically.

We have greatly strengthened the program by addressing how important regionality is on performance of cultivars by giving awards based on climatic regions. This is something that All-America Rose Selections didn't quite get to before they disbanded. There are of course challenges with defining regions and trying to recommend the best cultivars per region, but there isn't a climatic regional designation we know of that is better than the Köppen system (temperature and moisture based). Our goal is to work towards getting two trial sites in each region. We are working with limited plant numbers of new cultivars (typically 60-75 plants is what nurseries can share of new cultivars to this point), so we need to put the trials strategically across the country and using this climatic system developed by ecologists and updated over the years to be even more useful makes the most sense.

I would love to learn your specific reasons for negating the value of this regional system and look forward to your alternative suggestions for a better way to set up regions versus the Köppen system. A.R.T.S. has the great advantage of having multiple sites across the nation evaluating these new cultivars to help point people to the stronger new varieties and people can look to those trial sites with the most similar conditions to where they live. No matter the trial (wonderful trials such a the coral bell trial, Earth-Kind® trial, AAS trials, etc.), there is the challenge of how representative the trial site location is of the consumer’s garden. This is a universal challenge for all trials. However, in my opinion, having recommendations based on data, knowledge of where the trial sites are, and what climatic region they are within adds a lot of value, especially for new cultivars coming out, compared to consumers relying solely on the marketing information associated with new cultivars in a catalog or on the plant tag.


We are excited to have the first group of winners for 2018 announced and are a committed group of volunteers working to make the program as valuable as possible. Many of the team (including myself) have strong scientific plant trialing backgrounds with publication records in scientific journals and we are glad to bring our expertise to strengthen the scientific rigor and credibility of the program. We also have other volunteer team members with public garden, American Rose Society, industry, etc. perspectives/backgrounds. We work together to understand the resources and weigh our options to make A.R.T.S. as relevant and transparent as possible. We have things on the horizon to continue to strengthen the program and especially the transparency by helping public gardens that participate and our overall information on our website to include more information on the winning roses. We are committed to continually work to meet our goals, even if it takes a little time to seriously consider all the options to confidently get things in place to do things right.

As you have specific suggestions or comments, please let me know. From your comments in your emails to Adam we recognize it is important to be proactive helping people understand the scientific protocols we use and why we chose them in order to maximize strengths and minimize challenges. We will work towards sharing the issues you brought up and other potential questions we may be asked along with our responses to the greater community. We will share this sort of question/answer resource with our trial sites so they have a good resource to refer to regarding why we do what we do as they encounter others that may voice the concerns you shared and also post these questions and responses proactively on our website in the months ahead as well.

I look forward to hearing from you Carol,
All the best,

David Zlesak
Carol H. Sandt

“Once you stop learning, you start dying.” – Albert Einstein
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
porkpal
Jul 21, 2017 10:52 AM CST
I feel Mr Zlesak offers a very valid defense of the program. It was generous of him to give such a detailed explanation. Thanks, Carol, for posting his reply.
Porkpal
Name: Steve
Prescott, AZ (Zone 7b)
Region: Southwest Gardening Roses Irises Lilies
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Steve812
Jul 22, 2017 1:20 PM CST
Thank you, Carol for taking the time to send your questions and comments to Mr. Zlesak and for posting his response. I tip my hat to you.

The response seems quite reasonable. Sometimes I react a little badly to prose with too much vagueness, jargon, and managementspeak, and I feel I'm suffering a bit from that here. Still, I think the program's fundamentals have the potential to tell us quite a lot about which roses really can do well, and for which regions they are best suited.

I still find myself tempted to imagine that there is a strong commercial impulse behind the trialling process, since most of the profit in roses lies in new introductions. While I understand the commercial mandate to do this, I, like Carol, remain disappointed that existing cultivars are not being considered for the program. A lot of good roses will suffer for this. Take, for example the several Meilland roses that do well in the NE such as Bonica or Cherry Parfait. They will suffer from lack of endorsement, even if they perform as well or better than the ARTS endorsed new introductions. Ditto a few of the great Buck introductions like Quietness or Prairie Star. I would suggest to Mr Zlesak that taking on the systemmatic evaluation of even a few of the top 100 easy-care roses in the ARTS program would serve the commercial interest of the program well by providing benchmarks against which to compare the new cultivars. Furthermore, it would lend a measure of credibility to the program that is might otherwise lack.

The good news is that at least going forward people in the business of introducing new roses will be able to offer some regional guidance about where a new rose is likely to succeed.

At least ARTS is better than the AARS program for its explicit regional accounting. AARS and ARS both implicitly assume all roses could be ranked along a single dimension from best to worst with no distinctions made about things like cold hardiness or blackspot resistance. Any such one-dimensional framework could ignore such things, making it essentially useless. In considering them, however, it must either over-promote frost tender and blackspot prone roses in the NE US market, or it must under-promote frost tender roses well fit for the CA coastal market. A well designed program must do some of both. A regional system avoids this averaging problem.

When you dance with nature, try not to step on her toes.

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