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.

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