Stories on page are great to read. Stories on the big screen are great to watch. Stories in the garden can lead to disappointment and heart break. How so? Stories are just that, they are stories - sometimes factual, sometimes fictional, but always subjective. All stories have an element of invention that may or may not have grounding in reality. When gardeners invest their money, labor and love into their gardens, they do not want stories of great plants. They want great plants and that is where scientific evaluation is important.
The entire scientific method begins with a question. This question is followed by observation, and the creation of an answer that is really just a guess until it is tested. The test is a reproducible experiment, the results of which are analyzed and interpreted to confirm or disprove the guess. The test and its results must be shared and reproduced with the same results to be considered valid. Nothing is perfect, however, the scientific method strives to reduce the occurrence of “story-telling” through open design and sharing. So here is our experiment:
Our question is what are the most aesthetically pleasing, hardiest, disease resistant roses to grow in a region? Our guess includes all the roses that we are trialing. Our regional experiments are arranged as four randomized complete blocks. What this means is the experiment is replicated four times at each trial site. The placement of each rosebush within the block is randomized and different from the other three blocks. This is done to ensure that no one cultivar is placed in the same location within all four beds. This technique drastically reduces the number of variables within the experiment and is believed to be the strongest experimental design in field trial testing.
In some cases we have multiple trial sites in a given region. This makes our results even stronger and more compelling as with each additional trial site the experiment is repeated four more times. The strict trialing protocol ensures that every A.R.T.S.® trial garden is “no spray.” Remember, the goal is to identify the rose varieties which need little to no input. Ensuring that no pest control products or fertilizers are applied to the plants within the experiment ensures that we get accurate real world results which are both reliable and repeatable.
A.R.T.S.® is defining a new kind of "beautiful" in roses, an internal beauty: resilience, disease-resistance, drought tolerance, heat/cold tolerance, soil and nutrient adaptability.
A.R.T.S.® awarded rose introductions will be beautiful because they are ecologically-responsible as well as gorgeous to look at. They will require minimal input of resources for maximum output of performance in the landscape.
A.R.T.S.® evaluations will be the new standard for evaluating all landscape plants in the future.
A.R.T.S.® launched in 2014. Data collection continues yearly and regional winning roses will be announced starting 2017.