Garden brings new ‘Heritage’ to FSC

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Two years of development and cultivation planted the beginnings for the Florida Southern Heritage Rose Garden. The Rose Garden was officially opened to the public Nov. 16 during the Heritage Rose Foundation’s 2013 Conference on campus.

According to Professor Malcolm Manners of the Citrus and Horticultural Science department, “The Heritage Rose Foundation, which is international, not for profit, works to preserve old genetics of roses. There have been people attending those meetings, going on 30 years and numerous [people] said this was easily the finest conference we ever had anywhere- they loved it.”

The conference, led by Manners and Professor Nancy Morvillo, chair of the biology department, spoke about their work towards getting the garden off its feet and the sciences involved.

Morvillo explained the role the environment plays on the genetics of plants, specifically identifying rose varieties in order to analyze plants and determine specific genetic traits.

“One of the things we need to consider is not just what’s inherited, but the genes [and] how those genes are actually coding for the traits,” Morvillo said. “We also have to consider the environment, so what we see in these different species, in any organism is not just dependent on genes [or] what you inherit from parent to offspring.  We need to consider both of these things as were examining different rose varieties, any plants [and] any organisms.”

The importance of determining the rose varieties came in to play when planning for the new garden.

“Dr. Manners gave me a couple of different rose examples,” Morvillo said. “There’s a Chinensis and a Chinos, which are often pale when they first emerge, when the flowers first develop, but they’ll go to a deep red in the sun. If you don’t expose them to UV light andgrow them in a green house protected from UV light, then they’re not going to darken.”

Morvillo says that she thinks the UV light is a trigger to produce a pigment that is going to turn the flowers red.

“It’s an environmental condition that’s going to change the appearance,” Morvillo said.

Manners used Morvillo’s research to grow varieties according to their genetic information and plan ahead the varieties needed.

“I was informed at least a year and a half ago… by the college that my rose garden that used to be what is now Mr. George’s Green, was going to go away,” Manners said. “We had a fairly substantial garden there, so they called me up and said, ‘We’re creating Mr. George’s Green, your garden is going away. Not to worry, we’ll have another garden to replace it some day.’ So at that point I began planning in my mind, ‘How are we going to make this happen?’ because roses are really hard to transplant once they’re full-sized, they almost always die.”

Manners collected and personally grafted some 150 different varieties of roses from starts and has grown them in the green house.

“Some of our classes have worked with re-potting and pruning and that sort of thing. I think I personally did all the grafting, but there may have been some student classes that may have done some of it too,” Manners said.

Manners suggested New York garden designer Stephen Scanniello to make plans for the garden.

Scanniello is best known for his work on the Cranford Rose Garden in the Brooklyn Botanical Garden.

“Stephen has a lot of experience with dealing with beautiful spaces around very beautiful architecture,” Manners said. “He is well known internationally for that, so I suggested him to the college and I was delighted that they hired him to do the design. Good as we may be at what we do, there is no way we could have designed a garden that was like that. It really fits in with Frank Lloyd Wright and everything else around it does the job.”

Scanniello’s garden design incorporates the 19th century French garden style, which includes vertical structures and tree roses.

A new pergola and arch was built in the garden to create flow with the French style and Frank Lloyd Wright designs on campus.

“It is unique in the US; there is no other garden done in that 19th century French style, Manners said. “There is no other garden done in a Frank Lloyd Wright style and the fact that we blended them makes it a truly unique space in American rose gardens, really in world rose gardens.”