Three years ago, after retiring from two terms as mayor, Julie Hardaker was promised a farewell gift from the City of Hamilton.

On Friday, she finally gets that gift, and not because it was ever forgotten about.

It was just quietly - and secretly - growing.

Julie has had a rose named after her, the Julie Marguerite, featuring a unique creamy pink colouring.

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Bred by leading New Zealand rose grower, Tauranga based Rob Somerfield, of Glenavon Roses, the Julie Marguerite rose will be sold commercially in winter 2020 at around $30 per plant.

Julie Hardaker with the rose Julie Marguerite bred and named in her honour. Photo / Supplied
Julie Hardaker with the rose Julie Marguerite bred and named in her honour. Photo / Supplied

The Julie Marguerite Rose will get its first public reveal at 3pm on Friday, November 15, during the Pacific Rose Bowl Festival at Hamilton Gardens.

The four-day annual festival is at the Rogers Rose Garden at Hamilton Gardens, and, as usual, public votes will decide the top new roses from the New Zealand Rose of the Year Trial.

The winner of this trial, which starts on Thursday and runs until Sunday, is voted on by the public and the top voted rose becomes New Zealand rose of the year.

How did the Julie Marguerite rose get its name?

Julie obviously refers to her Christian name, while Marguerite is after Julie's late mother, who was a keen grower and who had extensive gardens.

Rob has won many gold star awards for his roses and will attend the launch.

He says his focus is to produce a plant that is disease resistant, easy to manage, with the colour being personal to the person it is named after, or a rose buyer.

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The Julie Marguerite was selected by both Rob and Julie who have watched carefully as it evolved over the past almost three years.

The Pacific Rose Bowl Festival takes place at Hamilton Gardens every year under the Pacific Accord of Friendship.

New Zealand rose breeder, the late, Dr Sam McGredy initiated the friendship affiliation with the common goal of promoting roses worldwide.

The festival is named after the trophy awarded to the winner of the New Zealand Rose of the Year Trials, and the best part of this festival is - the public get to decide which roses win.

Come down from Thursday to Sunday and vote for your five favourite roses and have a picnic in the beautiful Rogers Rose Garden while you're at it.

Children are also welcome to join in the voting, as all children's votes are counted to decide the winner of the Children's Choice Award.

Visitors carefully picking their top rose choices during a previous Pacific Rose Festival at the Rogers Rose Garden. Photo / Peter Tiffany
Visitors carefully picking their top rose choices during a previous Pacific Rose Festival at the Rogers Rose Garden. Photo / Peter Tiffany

Awards include Best New Zealand Raised Rose, Best Hybrid Tea Rose, Best Climbing Rose, Best Floribunda, Most Fragrant Rose, Best Shrub Rose and Children's Choice Award.

Rob says the breeding process can take more than 10 years and currently he has a rose crop of 15,000 plants at about 20cm high of which only about 800 will be selected for further trialling.

"If I can get two to three marketable roses in 10 years time I would be very happy," says Rob.

He has been breeding roses in Tauranga for 36 years, releasing almost 50 roses, including the purple Dame Te Ata Rose presented to Maori Queen, Dame Te Atarangikaahu before her passing in August 2006.

Apart from celebrating the launch of her rose, Julie is busy with her own law practice, specialising in employment, relationship property and public law.

Julie continues her work in the community, supporting a range of organisations providing services to Hamilton and the Waikato.

The Rose Bowl Festival coincides with the Daltons Waikato Rose Society's Rose Show held in the Hamilton Gardens Pavilion on Saturday and Sunday, where there will be more beautiful roses on display.

There will also be a performance by the Morrinsville Youth Theatre Company of Beauty and The Beast, on the Jade Dragon Stage adjacent to the playground at 2pm on Saturday.

At the Rogers Rose Garden you will find beds of all the new roses plus beds of past winners. If you can't make it during the festival, the rose gardens and Hamilton Gardens are open seven days a week.

For more details visit www.pacificrosebowlfestival.co.nz