There are noses in the roses at Hamilton Gardens.

"I smelt a bubble-gummy, sweet scent," eight-year-old Densel said.

St Columba's Catholic Primary pupils were among several schools visiting the Rogers Rose Garden to learn there's much more to the blossoms than meets the eye.

Not all roses smell the same - and some don't smell at all, rose expert Eileen Wilcox said.

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"A lot of them don't smell now, and a lot of roses don't really have a high perfume because they want to breed them that they are healthy that you don't need to spray them so they don't have a perfume but they just look really pretty," Wilcox told the children.

"They're very beautiful," nine-year-old Noah said.

"They start little they twist then they form into a shape," Ramzy, also 9, said.

"Then they fold out into a thing and then the petals will form, then it will fall and it will start again," classmate Densel said.

The fragrant field trip was part of this week's Pacific Rose Bowl Festival running from Thursday to Friday.

The public has been given the opportunity to vote for their favourite new roses in this year's New Zealand Rose of the Year Trial at the Rogers Rose Garden at Hamilton Gardens

On Sunday, the public's favourite rose variety will be crowned New Zealand Rose of the Year.

Most other rose competitions around the world were judged by experts but the New Zealand Rose of the Year has been judged by the public since 2004.

"The people on the street are the ones that will buy roses and, if they see something they really love, they will vote for it and then be likely if they have seen it here to go and buy it," Wilcox said.

The Rogers Rose Garden has been planted with new varieties as well as past winners.

The main voting categories were: New Zealand Rose of the Year, Best New Zealand Raised Rose, Best Hybrid Tea Rose, Best Floribunda Rose, Best Climbing Rose and Best Shrub Rose.

There was also a Most Fragrant Rose section and a special Children's Choice Award.

To be eligible for judging a rose, must be available for sale to the public.

"You don't have to be an expert," Wilcox said, "the five roses that you think are the nicest or best colour or one you like the best."

The Primary School children were making their five votes count towards the Children's Choice Award.

Eleven-year-old Chloe said her favourite flower was the 'fireball' rose "I like it because it's a peachy pink colour and it stands out from far away."

Ten-year-old Prisha learnt roses were "pretty hard to take care of, especially grooming them to make sure they don't die."

There were more than 4500 roses in the beds at the Rogers Rose Gardens.

Admission to the four-day Pacific Rose Bowl Festival was free, thanks to support from the Pacific Accord of Friendship.

Legendary New Zealand rose breeder Dr Sam McGredy initiated the friendship affiliation with an aim to promote roses worldwide.

Festival Director Emma Reynolds said Dr McGredy would be at the prize-giving this year.

The festival was named after the trophy awarded to the winner of the New Zealand Rose of the Year Trials.

Reynolds said there would be 82 rose varieties at this year's festival, including seven new roses from this year's trials.

The Pacific Accord of Friendship had trial gardens in Adelaide, Australia; Rose Hills, California, and Gifu, Japan. Representatives from these gardens regularly attended each other's events and were committed to promoting roses around the world.

Roses were one of the oldest and most loved flowers. But in order for their popularity not to die out, it's vital the industry attracts a new generation.

Hence the young people being brought to the gardens to learn about roses.

"The horticulture industry is really short of young people," Wilcox said. "If you can spark interest in a few schoolkids, that might switch on a light that it might be their career, we really need people to grow all sorts of things in this country."

The annual festival was in its 14th year - and, as always, budgets were tight.

"It's a bit of a juggling act with the finances some years, obviously if the festival had really good sponsor we could do a lot more."

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