Rose breeder welcomed to Naracoorte

Work ahead: Prominent rose breeder George Thomson in the front garden of his new home at Naracoorte which he's overhauling.
Work ahead: Prominent rose breeder George Thomson in the front garden of his new home at Naracoorte which he's overhauling.

Internationally recognised rose breeder George Thomson has uprooted his life and moved to Naracoorte, bringing with him decades of world-class expertise.

Originally hailing from Scotland, Mr Thomson has a long list of achievements as a rose breeder, including the prestigious 'Australian Rose Award' from the National Rose Society of Australia.

He has 77 registered rose varieties which are planted world-wide.

He has dedicated the rights to some of his roses to numerous charities such as the Down Syndrome Society, Cystic Fibrosis Society and the Howard Florey Institute.

His roses have also won medals at the National Rose Trial Gardens of Australia.

At one time, Mr Thomson was the biggest rose breeder in Australia and one of the top 10 largest breeders in the world.

"I'll continue breeding roses here in a much, much smaller way. In my heyday I was putting in 500,000 seeds (each year)," Mr Thomson said.

"Now, I think I would be down to five or six thousand."

Rose breeding requires a huge amount of patience and takes years for a single breed to make it to marketplace.

"From the time you plant the seed from the time it goes onto market takes about 10 years," Mr Thomson said.

"It's a very drawn-out process."

"And then it takes about another five years for the rose to get known in the marketplace"

"I've always been involved in breeding plants of some sort even in the days before I went to university.

"I used to breed potatoes of all things."

Mr Thomson was drawn to roses while studying a Diploma of Botany and Chemistry in Scotland, partly due to the ability of some varieties to continue blooming beyond spring.

"I know some people don't [like them] because they've got prickles, but I just ignore them," he joked.

"You don't just get one blast of flowers in spring and that's the end of it - they continue flowering."

With family in Naracoorte and having visited the area previously, Mr Thomson said the decision to move was an easy one.

"Another reason I came is the fact that I do like the people around here," he said.

"We know a lot of people and they are all very good people so it wasn't a hard decision to come down here."

Mr Thomson was a fascinating guest speaker at a recent Naracoorte Garden Club meeting.