Helena celebrates ground breaking ceremony for new Earth-Kind Rose Trial

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

HELENA–Saturday, Oct. 14, marked a special day for the Helena Beautification Board and the city of Helena as a ground breaking ceremony was held to officially open a complete Earth-Kind™ Rose Confirmational Trial.

The trial is a result of a partnership between the city and the Texas A&M University AgriLife Extension to plant some 78 rose shrubs from 24 cultivars along the drive leading to the Helena Sports Complex.

Helena Beautification Board Chairman Chris VanCleave, Helena Beautification Board Vice Chairman Brian Puckett, Helena Mayor Mark Hall, State Senator Cam Ward, State Representatives Matt Fridy and Allen Farley, John McMillian with the State of Alabama Department of Agriculture and Jon Corkern with the American Rose Society were all in attendance at the ground breaking ceremony Saturday morning.

Roses with names such as pink double knock out, homerun, Beverly, plum perfect, wedding bells, Bailey red and more were seen lining the trial in the median leading to the Helena Sports Complex.

“We chose roses that have been tested and have the scientific research behind them to know that these plants can get planted in the ground and we don’t have to water them, spray them or really do anything to them,” Puckett said. “We are doing a three year trial here in partnership with Texas A&M and we will report back our research to them on a quarterly basis. We will be out here researching and observing all the roses every other week.”

Both Puckett and VanCleave, along with several volunteers, helped get the ball rolling on the project about a year ago.

“The Helena Earth-Kind trials mark a significant investment in the future of garden roses across the United States,” VanCleave said. “People want beautiful roses in their gardens to enhance the beauty of their yards and enrich their lives. What they don’t want are roses that require a lot of care and upkeep. This rose trial is a first step toward identifying cultivars that provide a beautiful garden presence, are disease resistant, drought and pest tolerant.”

Several residents and community members attended the ground breaking ceremony where a walk through was provided and opportunities to take photos.

Helena is recognized as the only city to complete a full confirmational trial for Earth-Kind roses which is a trademarked landscape program developed by Texas A&M based solely on research that began in 1992 built on a foundation of sustainability.

“Rooted in projects is what Helena is,” Helena Mayor Mark Hall said at the ceremony. “We’re a community that gives back and we’re a community that thrives on volunteerism.”

The rose shrubs are expected to reach full growth by the Spring of 2018.