Sweet smell of success: Heritage roses win garden show gold
BY ROB POOLEY
A wander around Olga Yuretich’s rambling seven acre garden at Te Hana reveals pretty much all there is to know about her love of, and dedication to, the historical Heritage Rose.
The hundreds of ‘babies’ she lovingly tends run from deep reds to peach and subtle pinks but have now been joined by a brilliant gold medal won at last week’s New Zealand Flower & Garden Show.
As president and Northern convenor of Heritage Roses NZ Inc., Olga and her dedicated team put in long hours preparing a display worthy of their historical significance and their efforts have paid off handsomely as success for both the rose and the association
Olga has paid tribute to those who have coddled and nurtured their chosen roses over months of inclement weather in an effort to have them looking, blooming and smelling their very best for public display.
Judging over 100 entries across six categories were evaluated on qualities such as command of space, use of design elements, use of materials and emotional impact. In winning one of the 17 gold medals there can be little doubt that Heritage Roses scored big on ‘emotional impact’ as few flowers carry the lasting fragrance attributed to these beauties, with origins that span the globe and a history that spans centuries.
At their private property ‘Nova Podgora’ (so named in respect of the Yuretich’s Croatian heritage) the roses both compete and share with many other plants and mature trees with which, being essentially climbers, they live in peaceful co-existence.
Olga’s love affair with roses began when a given an Anais Segales and a Veilchenblau rose as a house warming present when she and husband George first moved to Te Hana. Now, 47 years later their garden is testament to the couple’s love of gardening and dedication to the Heritage rose. One can have a garden ramble without leaving the property, “Although we’re not quite as active as we used to be,” says Olga.
Rosa Gigantica from China is one that makes a big splash in Olga’s garden but love it as much as she does, she is loath to name a favourite for fear of offending others. Olga knows them all intimately and ‘used to know them all by name’ as if they were her pupils and she the teacher. She knows their shapes, special individual fragrances and many little idiosyncracies such as when and how long they flower, how many or how big are their thorns or hips.
Roses have also proved a wonderful subject for Olga’s patchwork and embroidery, from the dainty daisy-like ones to the tight doubles.
Many are named after royalty and famous people throughout Europe, and carry with them both romantic and tragic stories originating from all around Europe – Germany, France and Italy. Many of the old varieties have been found in unkempt cemetaries where their natural climbing habits have seen them fend successfully for themselves. Perhaps that’s why they live so long and smell so good.
“We have a wonderful group of enthusiasts around Northland who have helped create gardens at Reyburn House in Whangarei, the Matakohe Kauri Museum and Totara House, bequeathed by Mavis Smith to the Museum,” says Olga. “Many are still unidentified as to name or origin but thanks now to the internet we have information and ideas from all around the world that brings enthusiasts closer together and helps us protect and promote these lovely flowers.”