The story of Sunset's special symbol

Lauren Bonar Swezey,  – September 2, 2004

A special symbol for our Centennial year, ‘Sunset Celebration’ made its debut in nurseries in 1998. The sunset-colored hybrid tea has deep-green leaves, long stems, and a moderately fruity fragrance.

Winner of nine international awards, Sunset Celebration’ was also named an All-America Rose Selection for 1998. $10-$15.

Mail-order from: Edmunds’ Roses, (888) 481-7673; Petaluma Rose Co., (707) 769-8862; or Garden Valley Ranch/Nursery, (707) 795-0919.

The making of a prizewinner

Ten years ago, ‘Sunset Celebration’ was just a nameless seedling. Then hybridizer Gareth Fryer of Knutsford, England, selected it out of the thousands of roses started from seed.

The lovely chameleonlike hybrid tea, whose colors vary from rich peach to apricot-umber burnished with cream, is the result of a cross between an unnamed seedling and medium-yellow ‘Pot O’ Gold’. Fryer named it ‘Fryxotic’ (an international code name that it will always retain). But after this rose arrived in the United States, where it won the All-America Rose Selections (AARS) award for 1998, it was renamed ‘Sunset Celebration’ for the U.S. market, in honor of Sunset Magazine’s 100th anniversary.

“The great thing about ‘Sunset Celebration’ is that it captures what everyone likes in a hybrid tea,” says Tom Carruth of Weeks Roses, the American agent for the rose, “but it does it on an attractive plant that looks good in the landscape. This plant pumps out such great quantities of fragrant flowers, it will make a lot of home gardeners happy.”

The rose also won nine international awards, including the Golden Rose of the Hague award and the Golden Rose award. Very few roses amass such honors in a wide array of climates, says Carruth.

‘Sunset Celebration’ is more than just another pretty rose. Its beauty should endure for decades.

‘Sunset Celebration’ Vital Statistics:

The plants

• About 4 feet tall.
• Bushy, with deep-green foliage.
• Excellent disease resistance.

The flowers

• 4½ to 5½ inches in diameter, with 25 to 30 petals in a formal spiral.
• Color varies by climate ― richer peach in cool climates and lighter apricot in warm climates. But our many test plants at Sunset headquarters produced colors across the range.
• Fragrance is sweetly fruity.
• Excellent for cutting. Long stems. Vase life ― one of the longest for apricot-colored roses ― is about seven days.