Gardener’s research earns him the title of Master Rosarian
A rose is more than a lovely flower to John Jons.
To Jons, the rose is the basis of his scientific research he hopes will make the flower prettier and more fragrant. And he hopes his hard work will make the roses he creates more disease-resistant and better able to tolerate the coastal climate.
The American Rose Society noticed Jons’ industrious work in promoting and hybridizing roses and in November awarded him a Master Rosarian designation, a rare honor for gardeners who specialize in a flower that not only represents love, but is one of the most loved flowers in the world.
Jons, who is retired and lives in the Clear Lake area, spends his time tending to hundreds of rose seedlings at his home and consulting with organizations and people concerning the growth, propagation, health and population of roses. He has a patent pending for a newly developed rose that is low maintenance, yet beautiful. He already has “invented” six new roses that are being considered for commercial distribution, he said.
Although he has been growing and experimenting with roses for 35 years, it wasn’t until 2003, when Jons became a Galveston County Master Gardener, that he began specializing in the science of roses. Through this organization, and under the technical guidance of its leader, William Johnson, and members of the Houston Rose Society, Jons has learned to develop and hybridize roses — creating a new line of plants — that are more disease-resistant with larger blooms, petal counts, color and scents.
“I enjoy researching and then selecting roses that I like,” he said. “I like all plants, but in particular I like roses because you have great flowers almost all year long and I appreciate the challenge of hybridizing them.”
To be a Consulting Rosarian, a person must demonstrate an ability to grow roses successfully and pass an exam offered by the American Rose Society. Those who qualify can be considered to be nominated as a Master Rosarian after at least 10 years as a consultant and “has demonstrated knowledge of roses and rose culture, who has willingly and enthusiastically shared that knowledge with the general public and has demonstrated a superior record of performance and service as a Consulting Rosarian.”
Jons noticed that although there are many Consulting Rosarians in the Houston/Harris County area, there were none in Galveston and Brazoria counties. He decided he would offer to become the local Consulting Rosarian for this area, with his special emphasis on improving roses grown through hybridization. He is the designated “Rose Focal” through the Galveston County Master Gardeners, giving lectures frequently on successful growing and tending to roses.
Jons, who was raised in England and still speaks with a slight British accent, has visited rose gardens in more than a dozen countries, and prepared seminars for other Rosarians, plant growers and commercial producers around the world. He has created YouTube videos about his research and loves to talk about roses and their care. He has won several state and national awards in competitions and is sought after by organizations to speak about roses.
The most common questions gardeners ask Jons are: “What’s wrong with my roses?” and “What is the best kind of rose to grow in this area?”
“Preparing the raised beds properly is important,” he said. “However, selecting the right type of rose is most important.”
The most popular of all the varieties in this area is Belinda’s Dream, a shrub developed for Texas in 1992 by a mathematics professor at Texas A&M University. The plant is disease- and soil-tolerant and has gorgeous flowers that bloom in large clusters of double pink blossoms from spring to winter.
“That’s about the best you can get,” he said, noting there are about 100,000 different varieties of roses worldwide.