City of Roses in full bloom this weekend


SABRINA DEAN – Rose enthusiasts from across the country and even further afield are enjoying a feast of blooms and aromas in Bloemfontein this weekend as the "City of Roses" hosts its 38th annual Rose Festival.

Organiser Risna Opperman says the festival was initially started as a marketing ploy by the City of Bloemfontein in the 1970’s and grew from there. She adds that Bloemfontein has the perfect climate for the cultivation of spectacular roses. "Roses grow very well in the Free State – they love a cold winter and a hot summer, which is exactly what we have," she says.

One of the best ways to experience the Bloemfontein’s roses this weekend is by visiting the Open Garden Shows. Opperman has urged everyone to take advantage of the opportunity. "This year we are lucky enough to have fifteen gardens and the people have worked very hard."

She says details of the gardens, which are open to the public from 10am to 3pm today and tomorrow, can be found at the website These range from established gardens at homes of private individuals, to the gardens at the Sewe Damme retirment village or venues like Liedtjiesbos. there are also a selection of developing gardens.

"People can go and explore these magnificent gardens and even steal some tips for their own gardens," she says.

Opperman says the annual Cut Rose competition is the biggest such competition in the southern hemisphere. She says Brigadoon was selected as the gold winner this year, while silver and bronze went to Robert Capucci and Garden & Home respectively.

The festival also hosted its inaugural Florist of the Year competition, with Marelize Nortje taking top honours in the professional category and Rhona Wessels named as winning amateur. The Best Arrangement category was scooped by Satchmo.

Other highlights include the mass flower display at Loch Logan Waterfront, where the winners of this year’s Cut Rose competition will also be showcased, the crowning of Miss Rose Bud, rose garden displays at Northridge Mall and of course the thousands of rose trees growing at King’s Park.

Entrance to all of these displays, exhibits and open gardens is free of charge.