2023 Award of Excellence Winners
by Dr. Jim Hering
CHRISTIAN BEDARD, JIM SPROUL & CHRIS WARNER
In 1973 the American Rose Society Board of Directors established the Award of Excellence to recognize new miniature and miniflora rose varieties of superior quality and marked distinction. Since the inception of the Award, there have been 141 AOE winners. Miniature and miniflora roses which have been in commerce for less than one year, as well as unnamed seedlings or sports, are eligible for evaluation for two to three years in seven AOE public test gardens and two private gardens, spaced geographically across the United States. Since 2013 roses may be entered in a “no spray“ division, a “preventive spray” division or both. Each public garden has an AOE supervisor and five evaluators who score the entries on 11 criteria four times during each growing season. At the end of the trial period, Awards of Excellence are given to deserving entries, with a maximum of five per year. The public test gardens are: American Rose Center, Shreveport, Louisiana; Edisto Memorial Gardens, Orangeburg, South Carolina; Farmers Branch Public Rose Garden, Farmers Branch, Texas; International Rose Test Garden, Portland, Oregon; Mesa Community College Garden, Mesa, Arizona; Toledo Botanical Gardens, Toledo, Ohio; and Virginia Clemens Rose Garden, St. Cloud, Minnessota.
The official public announcement of the Award of Excellence winner(s) is made each year in American Rose and at the awards banquet of the ARS National Rose Show and Conference. After two years of evaluation (three for climbers) four Award of Excellence winners have been selected. The 2023 AOE winners are 'Midnight Fire™', an orange blend miniature, and 'Life’s Little Pleasures™', a mauve miniflora, both hybridized by Christian Bedard, 'Baby Dainty Bess', a miniature medium pink single, hybridized by Jim Sproul and 'Ringo™', a yellow miniflora with a red center, hybridized by Chris Warner.
'Midnight Fire™' (AOE #2020-11)
This orange blend miniature appears to be orange overlaid with purple smoke and has decorative form with 40-70 petals borne one to a stem and in clusters and with mild tea fragrance. The medium size rounded plant is very floriferous with glossy medium green foliage which is quite disease resistant. Parentage is 'Smoke Rings' x 'Cinco de Mayo'. It was hybridized by Christian Bedard (his seventh AOE winner), is introduced by Weeks Roses and is an excellent garden rose (photo courtesy of Weeks Roses, Inc.).
'Life’s Little Pleasures™' (AOE #2020-12)
Although classed as a mauve miniflora, this variety appears to be an old-fashioned lavendermagenta double with 50-65 petals and moderate fruity fragrance. It was hybridized by Christian Bedard from 'Sweet Chariot' x 'Enchanted Evening' and is introduced by Weeks Roses. The plant is rounded and bushy, of medium height and has glossy medium green foliage and good disease resistance. The blooms are 2-3 inches in diameter and are borne in clusters. This is Christian’s eighth AOE winner (photo courtesy of Weeks Roses, Inc).
'Baby Dainty Bess' (AOE #2020-03)
This single, medium-pink miniature was tested in the “no spray” division, demonstrating excellent disease resistance. It is a carefree true miniature rose having small clean foliage to match the petite single petal blooms. Its dark colored stamens are reminiscent of those on the single petal hybrid tea 'Dainty Bess', of which it is a diminutive facsimile and from which its name was derived. The blooms are borne most commonly one to a stem, sufficient in length for exhibition. It was hybridized by Jim Sproul (his third AOE winner. Photo courtesy Jim Sproul.
Ringo® R. 'Chewbullseye' (AOE #2020-01)
Spring Meadow Nursery has entered the AOE trials with another outstanding seedling in the “no spray” division. It is a yellow miniflora single with a red eye and glossy dark green foliage which Spring Meadow will market as a Proven Winners® Color Choice® shrub. The opening color is striking and remains attractive as it ages. It was hybridized by Christopher Hugh Warner (his fourth AOE winner), grows 3-4 feet in height and has exceptional disease resistance. Photo courtesy Spring Meadow Nursery.