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Pauline & Ray Martin

Co-founder of the Rose Society UK , Rose Jugdes and consulting rosarians

United Kingdom

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The Legacy and Influence of Great Britain’s Amateur Rose Breeders


There is no doubt that the pioneering work undertaken by Victorian cattle and wheat farmer, Henry Bennett, was a turning point in the development of modern roses. By planned, artificial pollination of his roses Bennett introduced his Pedigree Hybrids of the Tea Rose Collection in 1879. Whilst only a few of his varieties survived the test of time and are still grown today; one of his Pedigree varieties 'Lady Mary Fitz William' can be found in the ancestry of over 14,000 modern roses. Using the methods of Bennett, his professional contemporaries such as Paul and Sons and Hugh Dickson, moved forward at a rapid pace. But this also allowed amateurs, who were not constrained by commercial considerations to ‘play with’ and experiment with new crosses that took their fancy and this is where innovation began! We look at some of the characters and pathfinders in the world of amateur hybridising without whose inspiration some of our beloved roses would never have been created.

In Great Britain an epoch making event in the 1950s caused all rose breeders to reconsider the path that there breeding programmes would take. As the British Government introduced The Clean Air Act, the acrid sulphur polluted air that plagued the large cities(The Great Smog of London in 1952 being the most notorious) disappeared. The sulphur laced air that was so harmful to humans was, it transpired, actually keeping the roses free from disease, particularly Black Spot. Rose varieties that had previously appeared healthy were now falling victim to this disfiguring disease that stripped the leaves and left skeletons of our precious rose bushes. Our amateur breeders were at the front line and they would prove to be very influential in finding an answer.


Pauline and Ray Martin have been growing roses for fifty years. In their East Anglian garden and allotments they grow about 800 roses with another 60 or so in their greenhouses. They are rose lovers and rose exhibitors with roses of every type, color and shape in their garden and featuring in their many award-winning exhibits. They have won National Championships consistently during over 45 years of competing.

They are both Rose Society UK and American Rose Society accredited judges and Consulting Rosarians. In 2020 they were awarded the ARS Bronze Honor Medal for their contribution to the Desert Rose Society in California and in 2023 the Rose Society UK Gold Tudor Rose Award for Service to Roses in the UK.

Seminar Day Tickets

We are so very happy to welcome you to our seminars on the 3rd and 6th of July at the congress center Kalmarsalen in Kalmar. This will be a unique occasion for all of you who have roses as your special interest to learn more.

This will also be a very good chance for you who work with roses, or perhaps with tending and planning urban environment, to attend seminars where rose experts from all over the world will share their knowledge on different aspects according to the rose.

Starting at 1 195 SEK.