ALL-AMERICA ROSE SELECTIONS, INCORPORATED, a nonprofit research organization, was founded in 1938 for the purpose of evaluating new roses thought to be worthy of a special stamp of approval. Except for 1951, when no selection was made, All-America Rose Selections have been designated every year since 1940. Currently, six types of roses are eligible as entries: hybrid teas, floribundas, grandifloras, miniatures, climbers, and, since 1985, landscape roses.
Among the hybrid tea selections, there are several stars, especially 'Color Magic', my personal favorite; 'Honor', arguably the finest white hybrid tea in commerce; and 'Peace', surely the most famous rose in the world. Other favorites include 'Broadway', 'Secret', 'Mikado', 'Brandy', 'Tropicana', 'Sheer Bliss', 'Brigadoon', 'Duet', 'First Prize', 'Paradise', and 'Double Delight'
The AARS winners in the hybrid tea division usually present their blossoms one to a stem. Longer stems are preferred to shorter ones, disease resistance is a plus, and fragrance helps, too, although it isn't essential for an award, as proven by 'Touch of Class', an awarded hybrid tea without a trace of scent. To make up for this lack, the blossoms of 'Touch of Class' are picture perfect, with petals that unfurl symmetrically around a bull's-eye center.
Not all All-America winners are certain to shine in your garden, because success with specific selections often depends on local conditions. Still, the All-America seal remains the best guide to superior performance among new roses.
Rayford Clayton Reddell is the author of The Rose Bible (Harmony Books, 1994) and Full Bloom (Harmony Books, 1996).
Visit the All-America Rose Selections Site.