Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES -

In 2010, Touchette was the re­search chair­man for the CNLA at a time when the as­so­ci­a­tion ac­quired the rights to all of the rose ge­net­ics from the famed or­na­men­tal breed­ing pro­gram at the Mor­den Re­search Sta­tion, in­clud­ing the in­ter­na­tion­ally-rec­og­nized Ex­plorer and Park­land se­ries of hardy roses. Touchette par­tic­i­pated in re­plant­ing some­where be­tween 2,000 to 3,000 dif­fer­ent rose seedlings at CNLA’s three-acre re­search plot at Prairie Shade Nurs­eries in Portage la Prairie over­seen by Rick Du­rand, re­search co-or­di­na­tor for the CNLA. In fall 2011, Dun­can paid a visit to Touchette to dis­cuss the pos­si­bil­ity of se­lect­ing one of those roses and nam­ing it for the Never Alone Foun­da­tion. It was an in­spired idea that would prove to mo­ti­vate many across our coun­try, each sep­a­rated by only a few de­grees and all fu­elled by the same pas­sion to help peo­ple who are liv­ing with can­cer. Dun­can re­calls the ini­tial walk through the rows and rows of roses. The CNLA rose com­mit­tee had al­ready de­cided it would keep most of the newly in­tro­duced roses in the Cana­dian Artist se­ries. Dun­can was struck by the sin­gu­lar beauty of one par­tic­u­lar rose that was not a part of any se­ries. Its at­trac­tive coloura­tion, light fra­grance and com­pact size of no more than 91 cen­time­tres (just un­der one me­tre), made it an ideal can­di­date as a giv­ing rose. “It was a star in the ocean,” said Dun­can. With the trial and eval­u­a­tion process al­ready un­der­way at Portage, Dun­can pro­ceeded to grow the as-yet-un­named rose in his home gar­den. “It’s such a great per­former,” says Dun­can, whose in­stincts proved right. As­tounded by the num­ber of blooms the rose has pro­duced each sum­mer, his pref­er­ence has been to grow it in pots on his pa­tio, where he can have full view of the masses of roses and the glossy leaves with slightly ser­rated edges. Dun­can also planted the rose in one of his flowerbeds and de­lib­er­ately chose a less-thanideal lo­ca­tion for the sole pur­pose of test­ing its re­silience. With com­pe­ti­tion from the nearby roots of a bass­wood tree and less-than-op­ti­mum sun­light, the rose with­stood the chal­lenge. From the gar­dener’s point of view, dis­ease re­sis­tance in roses is para­mount and in fact is the No. 1 qual­i­fi­ca­tion that is driv­ing rose-breed­ing ef­forts to­day. Dun­can gives the Never Alone Rose top marks on that level, not­ing in three sum­mers in his back­yard the rose ex­hib­ited no signs of dis­ease. Now, some­times even good ideas take a slow path to re­al­ity. Not this one. Rick Du­rand, who at the time over­saw the rose plot at Portage, was ex­tremely im­pressed by the rose Dun­can had se­lected and its abil­ity to pro­duce a mul­ti­tude of roses on in­di­vid­ual branches through­out the grow­ing sea­son. “The only thing that seems to stop this rose from pro­duc­ing more blooms,” said Du­rand from his home in Kelowna, B.C., where he now re­sides, “is a hard, killing frost.” The longer the grow­ing sea­son, he added, the greater num­ber of rose

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