Expert blooming impressed
Porirua turned on a beautiful summer day for a visit by rosarian Matthias Meilland to Pauatahanui Burial Ground in December.
Meilland represented the French rose company Meilland International in Asia and Oceania and was on a promotional tour of the North Island of New Zealand.
He was shown around the burial ground by Judith Soja, the Wellington organiser for Heritage Roses New Zealand.
The name of Meilland is famous in rose circles, as it was Francis Meilland – Matthias Meilland’s grandfather - who bred the rose ‘Peace’.
This stunning rose became extremely popular after WWII and is still grown and admired today, Soja said.
‘‘While enjoying the wide range of heritage roses in the burial ground, Matthias talked about the Meilland family, of which he is the sixth generation, the roses they have bred and the aims of the company’s extensive rose breeding programme,’’ she said.
This includes breeding roses with single flowers which can attract and feed bees.
‘‘He loved the semi-rural setting of the burial ground and its views over the Pauatahanui Inlet, and the roses were at the peak of their flowering.
‘‘He was delighted to see the wonderful old rose, ‘Crepuscule’ – a beautiful, coppery apricot colour - which was bred by his great, great grandfather in 1904.’’
This rose, Meilland explained, had been forgotten in France but has now been reintroduced there after he saw it growing in New Zealand and Australia.
Pauatahanui Burial Ground, which is adjacent to St Alban’s Church, has been owned and managed by Porirua City Council since 2008.
The overgrown grounds and the graves were cleared 26 years ago by a group of local women and then planted with heritage roses, although a few roses were found growing on-site.
The whole project has been guided since its inception by Rose- mary Patterson and she continues to oversee the care of the roses with the help of a group of volunteers.
In 2014 the Burial Ground received an award for a ‘‘nationally significant planting of historic roses’’ from Heritage Roses New Zealand.
Pauatahanui Burial Ground has hosted many important rose people over the years, Soja said.
Rosa indica major is one of the original root stock in the cemetery.