Who Are AARS?

AARS is an organization of rose enthusiasts who actually care that the roses you purchase live up to the highest standards of quality. Many people don't even know this organization exists. Most consumers probably take for granted a rose's beauty and heartiness because they think that's just the nature of the rose. After all, how else could this elegant beauty have survived through countless centuries?

Well it might surprise you to know that not all roses are worthy of the AARS' Seal of Approval. If a rose cannot measure up to the strict standards set forth by the AARS, the All-American Rose Selections, then it won't get this seal that since 1983 has become synonymous with quality in the world of roses.

This not-for-profit organization of introducers and growers of roses prides itself in evaluating roses not only on how well they look, but also how well they can deal with various changes in climate and even how well they can ward off the peskiest of pests and disease.

For two long years, several new rose specimens are grown in approved test gardens that are located all over the United States. These testing areas are located in California, Massachusetts, West Virginia, Illinois, Wisconsin, Washington and 13 other states of varying climate zones to see how well each specimen can tolerate the different weather patterns.

Those in charge of the test gardens have agreed to follow the growing guidelines developed by AARS, ensuring consistency throughout the evaluation phase. The guidelines are not overly complex. They've been developed in a way that the average rose grower can understand which also helps to ensure that if a rose does ultimately receive the AARS Seal of Approval it can be successfully grown and maintained by anyone, regardless of their level of rose-growing expertise.

Besides the climate, the rose specimen under evaluation receives numerical scores in many other areas including its fragrance, its color when it opens and when it peaks, its foliage, its ability to flower, its buds, stems and flowers, its vigor and finally its overall value.

Each year several new specimens pass the test and are awarded the AARS Seal of Approval. The 4 winners for 2006 are: Julia Child, an old-fashioned grand dame, just like its namesake with a buttery gold color and excellent disease tolerance; Rainbow Sorbet, a floribunda with a medium sized flower in a bright mix of orange, yellow and red; Wild Blue Yonder, a grandiflora with shades of lavender and the scent of citrus and rose; and Tahitian Sunset, a grand hybrid tea that produces peach-apricot-pink flowers 5 inches in diameter with up to 30 petals each, finished off by the scent of licorice.

Remember, part of the testing criteria is that the AARS winners must be easy to grow by an average-skilled gardener. So make plans to visit your local nursery or garden or home center this spring to snatch up these best of breed roses. They're also available online and via mail order.

Where to next?
Learn more about the importance of soil testing and how to use a soil ph meter.
Discover effective tactics for killing weeds and in particular crabgrass control.
Or that essential ingredient of all successful gardens - read about building a compost heap or potash fertilizer.
Maybe you're a rose fan, in which case our rose gardening series will help with everything from growing miniature roses to rose trees.