Walking onto the 1.8 hectare plot of land in Portland, Oregon, on which the world-renowned International Rose Test Garden is being held, visitors to this rosy wonderland would have a hard time overlooking a few rose species with vibrant blossoms grown by Laotian-American Ping Lim (林彬).
The 59-year-old Lim, who was born in Laos and graduated from National Taiwan University’s horticulture department in 1979, has hybridized dozens of new rose varieties that have garnered him worldwide awards.
Lim entered the field of rose research and development in the 1980s, but his interest in the field dates back to a childhood visit with his family to the Bolaven Plateau in southern Laos, where an abundance of roses grew, and he became enamored with the distinct fragrance and elegance of the yellow variety.
During his stay in Taiwan, Lim once again encountered his boyhood obsession, a yellow rose genus named “Peace,” which intensified his decision to throw himself into the world of roses.
He started working to overturn the outdated stereotype of roses as “high maintenance” and kept creating new rose genera that could be raised in a relatively eco-friendly and effortless manner.
In 2008, the Royal Rosarians, a voluntary organization that promotes Portland and the annual Portland Rose Festival, officially dubbed him Sir Knight Ping Lim, in honor of his decades of contributions to rose development.
Among the more than 20 patented varieties of roses Lim has created, many have won him awards. A genus with light orange-pink petals titled Sweet Fragrance is one such variety; it was crowned the Best Grandiflora at the Portland Rose Festival in both 2008 and 2010.
In addition, a tiny-sized rose variety embellished with yellow pistils against peach-blossom petals, titled Day Dream, was named Best Shrub in 2005 at the festival.
Another variety called Love and Peace, whose petals are graded from edges to the center with peach-bloom color, white and yellow, has won Lim several gold medals, including one at the prestigious All-America Rose Selections in 2002 and one at a show in Northern Ireland in 2004. It was also designated as Portland’s Best Rose in 2006.
One catching feature of the innovative rose variety is that the color of its blossom changes through the seasons, gradually altering from yellow to pink, then to orange-red.
“The variety of [Love and Peace] was launched following the 9/11 attack [in 2001,] as its nomenclature embodied a time significance that the world could only be in peace while there is love among us,” Lim wrote on his official Web site about the fruity-scented species.
Arduous effort is often a requisite in nursing roses, largely due to the need for a “perfect” habitat and weather conditions, as well as roses’ particular susceptibility to disease and pest injury.
However, such stereotypes were overturned after Lim launched a line of roses called Easy Elegance, which includes several varieties that are easy to grow and insect-resistant.
Among them is a well-received breed called Paint the Town, which is not only immune to most diseases, droughts and cold, but is also heavy and blooms all season long, gaining it great popularity among rose enthusiasts.
A genus called Snowdrift, which grows snow-white blossoms, can thrive in frosty weather with a temperature of minus-30°C.