University of Pretoria launches centenary rose

”Whilst we celebrate a hundred years of scholarship, we should not forget that universities are about the future. The University of Pretoria Centenary rose symbolises the University of Pretoria’s commitment to contributing towards a better future for all South Africans. Growth, beauty and freshness are all inherent characteristics of this commitment, as they are embodied in the rose,” says Prof Calie Pistorius, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Pretoria.

“As the rose blooms to bring joy and enhance the quality of life, so will the University of Pretoria bloom in its striving to be the intellectual home for the rich diversity of South African academic talent, and to do the country proud as one of its world-class universities,” he added.

The ‘University of Pretoria Centenary’ rose is a vigorous, cluster-producing bush rose, covered in glossy, healthy foliage with many shoots that sprout prolifically from the base to the top of the plant. The buds are pointed and open, with slightly in-curved petals, into attractive, open blooms. The colour blend of the blooms distinguishes it from other varieties. The petals rise from a yellow base and blend into a shade of brown, touched with a delicate tint of apricot. When the slightly scented, firm petals unfold into a 12 cm-wide bloom, the colour takes on a silvery sheen.

A mature plant will grow into a most admirable, chest-high specimen, which can serve as a striking focal point in a garden. If pruned and planted in groups or beds, this rose performs excellently as a bedding rose of hip height. It is stunning when budded on a standard stem or grown in a tub or large container.

“The ‘University of Pretoria Centenary’ rose comes with a distinguished genetic heritage and colourful history. ‘University of Pretoria Centenary’ originated, on the female side, from a crossing of the ‘Safrano’ tea rose with ‘Yellow China’ in 1839. Further cross-pollination resulted in the famous ‘Lady Mary Fitzwilliam’ in 1882. This was crossed with ‘Madame Tartas’ in 1890, which produced ‘Madame Caroline Testout’, which is still very popular today. The genetic ancestry also includes ‘La Reine’, as well as the very famous ‘Frau Karl Druschki’, which was cultivated in 1903. The crossing with a seedling by Messrs Delbard in France resulted in ‘Centenaire de Lourdes’, a strong pink floribunda shrub that is extremely healthy and floriferous, Ludwig Taschner explains.

“On the male side, the line originated with the first yellow ‘Soleil d’Or’ hybrid rose in 1900, followed by ‘Rayon d’Or’ and the celebrated ‘Mrs PS du Pont’ in 1929. Further breeding involved ‘Pink Favourite’, ‘Dainty Maid’, ‘Allgold’ and, finally, a cross between ‘Remember Me’ and ‘Southampton’. This brought about ‘Fellowship’, a free-flowering floribunda with masses of blooms in a much sought-after apricot copper colouring.”

“A seedling from a cross between ‘Centenaire de Lourdes’ and ‘Fellowship’ in 1997 flowered in 1998. It has since proved its mettle in various climates in South Africa and has been found worthy of introduction,” adds Taschner.

Commenting on the centenary celebrations in 2008, Prof Pistorius says,
“The centenary programme with the theme, “A century in service of knowledge”, comprises of more than 200 projects and activities that were put together against the background of the University’s new strategic plan. It will include exciting and substantial programmes, both local and international, on teaching and research, culture, sport, community development and internationalisation. The programme will start with the birthday of the University in February 2008 and will conclude with the Laureate Ball in November 2008.”

The University of Pretoria was established as the Transvaal University College in 1908 and grew from humble beginnings in the Kya Rosa house with a handful of academics and students. Today the University of Pretoria is South Africa’s leading university in terms of research outputs, and is recognised as one of the top 500 universities in the world. During the last hundred years, the University has produced close to 200 000 alumni and has made significant contributions in research and innovation. The University of Pretoria has a proud academic heritage.

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