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Taking Roses to the Bank

In the article titled “How Roses are Judged” we explored the criteria applied by judges in selecting trophy winning entries. As might be expected there are a number of rose varieties which consistently display these characteristics more often than others. Such roses are sometimes called “bankers” by experienced exhibitors. No matter what they are called it is clear that there are some varieties which are seen time and again on the trophy table.

The importance of bankers is somewhat diminished in the novice classes as novices, being often unfamiliar with the nuances of exhibition form, tend to grow (and show) all kinds of roses, usually selected for fragrance, color or sentimental reasons unrelated to exhibiting. I for one won my novice trophy with a specimen of Sonia; a variety that has never won since and is long gone from my garden. Once again, however, this fact presents an opportunity for a novice determined to exit the novice classes. Since a banker by definition will have more of what a judge is looking for it is much more likely, with all other factors being equal, that the trophy will go to a banker.

The problem for a novice preparing to show for the first time is that it takes time to get a rose established and it is not good for the long term health of the rose to cut long show stems until the bush is established. As a general rule one cannot expect a newly planted two-year-old field grown rosebush to be ready for a show until the fall at the very earliest. It is even better to leave the rose alone in its first year in the garden so that it may become well established for showing in subsequent years. Exceptions do exist but the budding novice exhibitor should not expect to win their novice trophy with a rose that he or she has just introduced to the garden.

Even so there is value in learning what shows well. In all likelihood a novice will find that he or she is already growing several bankers. Such roses should not be removed and might benefit from a repositioning in the garden. The knowledge will also be useful in focusing the prospective exhibitor’s attention and valuable time on the roses with the best chance of winning.

Knowledge of the local bankers is also important in selecting new roses to add to a novice’s garden. Experienced exhibitors are often seen going to great lengths to identify and acquire the hottest new exhibition varieties. And there is a lot of fun in doing so. But a novice should not, on observing this activity, leap to the wrong conclusion. Visit the garden of any experienced exhibitor and you will find that the great bulk of the roses grown are the bankers and usually in many multiples. So the best advice to a budding novice is to identify the bankers and buy several of each.

In making any list of bankers it is important to know that the banks differ greatly in different parts of the country. This point is illustrated in the annual tabulation of Top Exhibition Roses made by Slats Wathen which are broken down by district. This tabulation usually appears in the May issue of American Rose. An examination of those listings show that certain roses dominate the show tables in certain parts of the country but seldom are seen in others. A notable example is Uncle Joe which is a killer exhibition rose in much of the country but will not open in the Pacific Southwest.

So, in looking at the lists of top roses, take a look at what is doing well in your district and neighboring districts of similar climate.

In addition, a careful study of the Show Results as listed in Rose Exhibitors’ Forum will also assist in identifying bankers. These results are reported by district so again it is a good idea to see what is winning in your district and comparable districts.

For information on the newest roses it is also of considerable value to purchase each year a copy of Horizon Roses which is a compilation of comments by experienced exhibitors on the newest roses in their garden. Horizon has an Honor Roll of Roses on which comments are no longer solicited. This is itself a fine list of bankers. Again, by looking for the comments of reporters who live in or near you, promising new bankers may be identified early.

In the case of hybrid teas exhibited as one-bloom-per-stem entries, the following rose varieties (listed in alphabetical order) may be considered bankers in many areas of the country:

  • Bride’s Dream

  • Crystalline

  • Dublin

  • Elina

  • Elizabeth Taylor

  • Folklore®

  • Gold Medal®

  • Keepsake

  • Louise Estes

  • Lynette

  • Natasha Monet

  • Olympiad

  • St. Patrick

  • Signature

  • Suffolk

  • Touch of Class

  • Uncle Joe

Among miniature roses the bankers (again in alphabetical order) generally include the following:

  • Chelsea Belle

  • Child’s Play

  • Fairhope

  • Gigglestm

  • Hot Tamale

  • Irresistible

  • Jean Kenneally

  • June Laver

  • Kristin

  • Luis Desamero

  • Minnie Pearl

  • Old Glory

  • Olympic Gold

  • Pierrine

  • Snow Bride

  • X-Rated

Finally, for floribundas the following are usually considered to be bankers:

  • Europeana® (Spray)

  • French Lace (One Bloom)

  • Kanegem (One Bloom)

  • Nicole® (One Bloom or Spray)

  • Playboy® (One Bloom or Spray)

  • Playgirl (Spray)

  • Sexy Rexy® (Spray)

  • Showbiz (Spray)

The likelihood, as I have said, is that you will already be growing several of these varieties. If so then begin to focus your attention on each of them. But do not despair if you have a busted bank because with the advice in these articles you are still guaranteed to be a novice for only a short period of time.

To download the pdf version of this article click here.

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