ARS Trial Grounds Testing


Can anyone tell me who might be a better person to contact for sending in a rose seedling for testing for 2010-11 besides Carol Spiers at ARS?

I’ve emailed her a couple of times but I think she might be really busy.

It’s a Floribunda seedling and I do have 4 mature plants to send.

btw: I’ve sent a seedling for testing before so this would be my second entry.


You might try Carol again, and copy it to Jeff Ware ( She’s his assistant.

I’ll try just what u said peter thank you.


I was under the impression that this garden (ARS Test Garden) was under renovation and no plants were being accepted for testing. Is the renovation completed so that the situation has changed? I have a plant I’d like to have tested.


from the Winter 2008 Newsletter:

RHA and AOE Trials at the American Rose Center

Rose trials have been suspended for 2009 to permit reworking soil in the beds and installing fences to protect the test roses from destruction by deer and armadillos. Roses will not be accepted for trial this year.

Trials will resume in 2010.

The entries sent in 2008 were destroyed and plants will need to be sent again for trial in 2010.

Fees already paid will carry over.

Although the timbers around the beds were replaced fairly recently, the soil in the beds had become so poor that the roses were not growing well


Thanks for the information–that was the article rumbling around in the back of my mind. Do you know when they will start accepting plants for testing for next year?–I seem to recall that they sometimes accept early entries from northern gardeners but much would depend on if the beds will actually be ready for next season. Does anyone have any information about the current status of the test beds?



The one that would know is Jack Walter at Kimbrew-Walter Roses. Jack is the honcho of the RHA trials, and has been working on the refurbishment of the beds. They had been accepting roses from the northern gardeners in the fall to be “heeled in” and planted in the spring with the rest. I will contact Jack and find out and post here as soon as I can.



please remember me when you chat with Jack from RHA trials, I have a floribunda with 4 mature cuttings waiting in the wings.



Thank you John. I (and I suspect some other members) appreciate you looking into this. An update on the current status of the RHA trial gardens will be nice.


I did talk to Jack Walter this afternoon about the status of the beds in the RHA/AOE trial grounds garden. It appears that with all the difficulties at the ARC involving funds, manpower, etc that the work is not progressing in the timeframe as we had hoped it would. In addition to refurbishing the soil in the beds, the plan is to install fencing to protect the plants not only from deer, but armadillos that really do some damage! What he did tell me that there would be some beds available, but that they would not be ready until sometime in the Feb/Mar time frame. He was wondering how many hybridizers were planning to enter, for if he had a fairly good ballpark estimate he would have a bit more influence in getting some work going to make a few beds available.

What I told Jack I would do would put this posting here, and ask if those that intend to participate send me an e-mail telling me what you have, where you are and when you would plan to ship. He told me that they would be unable to accept plants this fall there at the ARC in Shreveport, but if this would prevent anyone from the Northern states from participating, please include that in your e-mail to me, as there is a source where some arrangements can be made to receive them and get them to the ARC in time to plant.

Please let me know if you plan to participate in the trials next year by mid October so I can relay that info to Jack.

John Moe

General Director, RHA

Hi John,

thank you for all the info you gathered. I for one, would like to enter a floribunda (4 mature cuttings) for this upcoming years entrances. I can ship them anytime they want. I can have them ready for Feb. or early March if that is better. Please keep me posted.


(My apologies to anyone who might be offended by what I am about to say.)

I have not been impressed with the quality of the evaluation of rose seedlings at the ARC trial grounds for many years. I sent 3-4 rose seedlings for testing for several years in a row. Some of the roses were mediocre, while others were quite nice. There was a definite “spread” in terms of quality. I sent the “so-so” roses along with the better ones to increase the number of entries to help support the continuance of the trial grounds.

The first and second year evaluation reports were many times very late and had the appearance of having been done hastily and with few real evaluations. I really had my doubts about the reliability of the reports when 2 years in a row nearly all of the roses (good and bad) received bronze certificates. There were many years where only bronze certificates were awarded. I stopped sending in entries. Two or three years ago, that seemed to change, because silver certificates were being awarded again.

I decided to send in several more seedlings in 2008 to give the trial grounds another try. I was disappointed to find that the grounds were not cared for properly and all of the entries had been destroyed.

To me it appears that there is not sufficient support at ARS to conduct anything that would resemble a good evaluation of seedling roses. As everyone here knows, there is a lot of work that goes into developing new, potentially superior seedling roses. Propagating them and sending them in at the right time requires quite a bit of work too. I think that the rose breeders have not been well served by the ARC trial grounds for a long time. It will take a lot more than preparing the beds with new soil, and protecting the seedling rose entries from animals to make the ARC trial grounds a place where real and worthwhile evaluations can be made to give the rose breeders any idea about how their roses are doing.

It might be time to start over and find a new location altogether.

Jim Sproul

Jim, it sounds like you’re not the one who should be apologizing. I don’t doubt what you say a bit.

After nearly 15 years I became disheartened enough to let my ARS membership lapse a few months ago.

I’ve let my feelings be known for some time. I really do hope they can get their act together.

It’s sad to hear that. I had let my membership lapse a while back too, but mostly because the ARS seemed to have more of a focus on rose shows (less on my interest of hybridizing) and I had to make some cuts in my spending.

I hope that the trial grounds do make a recovery, but as an alternative I’ve always planned on distributing anything I thought might be worthwhile to like-minded hybridizing friends for evaluation in different parts of the country. I know it’s not the most formal way to test a new cultivar, but it can be very informative. This is what I typically have done with any promising new bearded iris seedlings I’m considering registering. I know it might sound naive (I’m really not expecting to make a bundle of $$ anyway), but in general people have been extremely considerate of my “intellectual property rights”.

Also, I don’t know all that much about it, but the “Earthkind” evaluation program sounded like something that would fit my objective of only producing fairly disease resistant material.

It might be time to start over and find a new location altogether.

There is another reason for wanting to do this besides the situation with the current test garden.

Shreveport sits squarely in hardiness zone 8a. This zone covers only about 10% of the USA, leaving all the rest of us out in the cold when it comes to evaluations.

To be sure, any single zone only covers a fraction of the country but zone 8 is at an extreme. The AARS solves this by testing in 23 locations but, judging from the discussion in the old newsletters leading up to the Shreveport test bed, if the AARS accomodated RHA members there wouldn’t have been a perceived need for Shreveport.

Changing the location or adding a new one won’t be easy, but is worth looking into.

I realize that there have been problems over the years regarding the number and quality of evaluations at the ARC Trial grounds. From what I have heard it is not the easiest to get evaluators to go to Shreveport, thus the evaluations have been rather sparse and the results are not generally what the hybridizer had hoped to hear. And I know full well that there are some that are not pleased with the outcome, but I hope that this will not deter every hybridizer from sending seedlings for the trials. That was the purpose of my posting on the 23rd after conferring with Jack Walter. If we could get a count of how many would participate, then hopefully he could exert some influence to get the beds that would be needed ready to go. When it really comes down to it, the trial grounds are not a moneymaking venue for the ARC, and thus it does not have the priority that other projects have. I am sure visitors would rather look at a rose with a name that they recognize, rather than a seedling with just a number.

On my first trip to the ARC as the General Director, I asked why minis were not accepted in the RHA trials. I was told that the AOE beds were right there, but I said that this was not the same at all. To enter into the AOE trials requires the submission of 30+ plants sent to 10 gardens primarily in the 1st quarter of the year. To participate in the AARS would require even more plants to many more locations. There are not many amateur hybridizers in the northern states that could do this unless they had a heated greenhouse. Entries into the RHA trials involve only 3 or 4 plants sent to just one location. I realize this is not a very good test being only one location and in one zone, but for most amateurs it does give them a sense of personal triumph to win a certificate of any color. I finally convinced them to accept minis, and to let the hybridizers from the colder climates send plants in the fall to be held until they were planted along with the rest sent in Feb/Mar. This has not worked out all that well either