Paul Zimmerman Rosarian Extraordinaire, Creator of The Biltmore Rose Trials
Paul Zimmerman lives a life gardeners and rose lovers dream of. He is owner of Paul Zimmerman roses, a company dedicated to Budding the Rose Grower In All Of Us. His credentials include a veritable who’s who in the rose world, among them Dr. Thomas Cairns, past president of both the American Rose Society and World Federation of Rose Societies, Steve Jones, former president of The American Rose Society who introduced him to Old Garden Roses, Bob Edberg of Linberlost Roses and Rose Books. He writes award-winning articles for The Rose, the National Magazine and Annual of the American Rose Society.
Biltmore Conservatory & Walled Rose Garden
Paul an independent consultant to Jackson & Perkins lectures internationally and serves as an international juror for numerous rose trials. While attending school at UT Austin studying Aerospace Engineering he quickly realized rocket science was not for him and did the next logical thing, he enrolled in clown school, The Dell Arte School of Mime & Comedy in Northern California. He actually toured the country for 15 years doing stand-up comedy where he met his current fiance, Pam.
Judging The Gardens
After becoming an ABC TV show head writer for 2 years Paul decided to return to his first love, gardening and roses. Currently he and Pam live on a 27 acre horse farm in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I had the pleasure to talk with him about how he created the Biltmore Rose Trials that I will be attending as a rose judge next week-end, September 27-29th at the Biltmore Rose Garden in Ashville, NC.
A Heritage Rich In Blooms
Q. Paul, you mentioned you are a first generation American of Dutch parents. One cannot think of Holland without thinking of tulips. Is this part of your heritage? Tell us about yourself and how you came to love roses and be in this business.
One of Paul’s First Roses: ‘Olympiad’
A. While my family has always loved gardening, there is no tradition of anyone being in the horticultural industry. While we love tulips and have planted many on our farm, our main bulb planting has been over 2000 daffodil bulbs that come back year after year. My wife’s heritage is British and she loves daffodils.
‘Alexandria of Kent’ English Roses Example of Pauls First Roses
A. I’ve always loved gardening and in fact had a little lawn care business when I was growing up in Miami, Florida. In the early 1990s I was looking for a career change and took some time off to decide what that should be. I began gardening again and bought three roses, Pristine, Crystalline and Olympiad. After that I bought some David Austin Roses and then some Old Garden Roses. I joined a rose society and then was instrumental in creating a new one – The Tinseltown Rose Society. I was the first Vice President and later President. One day I was helping a member prune their roses when a neighbor walked up and asked me what I would charge to prune their roses. From that came my company Hundred Acre Woods Rosescaping, which grew to four employees caring for over 60 rose gardens in the Los Angeles area. I sold that company when my wife and I moved from Los Angeles to our farm in upstate South Carolina.
Biltmore Rose Trial Winner Polar Express
Q. As former owner of Ashdown Roses tell us how you came to be a consultant to the Biltmore Estate Rose Gardens.
A. Ashdown Roses occasionally supplied roses and advice to the Biltmore Rose Garden starting in 2002. When I closed Ashdown due to the recession and to focus on other areas of roses, is when I approached Biltmore with the idea of the Trials leading to the Biltmore Garden Rose Collection leading to the recreation of the walled rose garden. Part of my role is consultant to the rose garden.
Q. The Biltmore Garden has 2000 roses with 250 varieties. Do you manage the selection process? Also do you cull out less than stellar producing varieties, etc.
Biltmore Rose Trials Award Table
A. I advised the head gardener who was Lucas Jack at the time in the rose garden, on variety selection, design ideas etc. I also helped source the roses, including many new varieties just coming to market. The final decisions on variety selection are made by the head rosarian of the Biltmore,
Q. Frederick Law Olmstead, said to be the founder of American Landscape Architecture, was the landscape architect of the Biltmore gardens. Do you know if the design included the rose garden that is host to the 2000 roses of today, or was it a later addition?
A. The rose garden, in its present location and very similar configuration, was on the first drawings for the Walled Garden done in the early 1890’s and was installed with the original plantings.
Biltmore Walled Rose Garden
Q. The Biltmore Estate Rose Garden is host to the International Rose Trials, can you tell us about the role you play in this process.
I created the trials, wrote the rules, find the entrants and now run
the trials with the help of the wonderful folks at Biltmore. My official
title regarding the Trials is Coordinator Of The Biltmore International Rose Trials.
LeeAnn Donnelly publicist for the Biltmore snapped this picture while I was judging the fragrance of ‘Bejazzo’ at the Biltmore Rose Trials. It was in the Ashville Times and has been reprinted around the world
‘Everyday Roses’ by Paul Zimmerman
Paul’s book ‘Everyday Roses’; The casual gardener’s guide to growing Knock Out® Roses and other modern easy care roses was published by Taunton Press February of 2013. It’s available at book stores, garden centers and of course Amazon, Barnes and noble.com and so on.