Seizo Suzuki, Rose Breeder in Japan

Seizo Suzuki was a rose breeder who, with his rare talent and incessant efforts, played a leading role in the rosedom of Japan. Due to his leadership that Japan's rosedom has come to enjoy the world-wide reputation it holds today. During his lifetime, he raised as many as 160 new rose varieties, and 30 of them were awarded the ARRS and other prizes at prestigious intenational competitions of new roses the world over, earning him the reputation as a great breeder globally.

He was one of the breeders who recognised early on the importance of species roses and old garden roses as a gene pool for future breeding programmes. He collected about 2,000 such roses in his research institute of the Keisei Rose Nursery. This collection impressed Mr. Peter Harkness so strongly that he wrote in an article he contributed to the RNRS journal The Rose: "For quality of growth and richness of variety I have never seen its like. I could have stayed for days." (The Rose, Christmas 1993)

Seizo Suzuki was born in Tokyo in 1913. His love of plants started in his early childhood under the influence of his father, an enthusiastic amateur horticulturist. Among many plants, he was particularly fascinated by a beautiful red rose, Gruss an Teplitz, the queen of his father's garden. It was this rose, that made him decide to take up the study of roses as his lifelong occupation.

In 1938, at the age of twenty-four, he started his career as a professional rosarian, opening Todoroki Rose Garden in Tokyo. Two years later, in 1940, he married Haruyo, who was to become his most devoted colleague all through his life.

Roses in Japan have a long history.

Heritage Roses:

The City of Sakura Rose Garden (Kusabue-no-Oka Rose Garden) is located in Sakura, a city in a quiet rural area, 15km west of Narita International Airport and 40km east of the central area of Tokyo. Though it is a small city, Sakura has an interesting history stretching back over a thousand years. During the Edo period, Japan closed its door to the outside world for over 250 years until it gave up the policy of diplomatic isolation in the middle of the 19th century. It was Masayoshi Hotta, the then feudal lord of Sakura and a chief minister of the Tokugawa government, who played a pivotal role in promoting Japan’s open door policy at that time. 

After the Meiji Restoration, he aggressively worked to introduce culture and advanced technology to Japan from other countries. In those days, Sakura led the nation in various fields: art, medicine, language study, finance, and horticulture. Hotta opened a trial farm in Sakura with the aim of promoting the study of modern horticulture. 

His son Masatomo served as the first president of the Japan Imperial Rose Society. It was considered that Sakura, with its tradition of horticulture and of roses, should be the place to preserve heritage roses, and the City of Sakura Rose Garden (Kusabue-no-Oka Rose Garden) was therefore opened. The Garden has been trying to collect historically important roses, on the basis of the late Mr. Seizo Suzuki’s rose collection, and with the help of many rose lovers in and out of the country. At present, the Garden has 850 varieties --- 120 species, 600 old garden roses, and 130 modern roses. In total, 1900 roses are taken care of by many volunteers in the 2.5 acre lot of this garden. 

Where do the roses come from?

Don't forget Takatori Rose Nursery, in Okayama, from 1935.

Fantasy Garden Roses
bred by Yoshiho Takatori and variety name is from Aynu language.
Fragrance of the Old Roses and dwarf type of English Roses.
In our climate Fantasy Garden Roses are best protected for summer.
All are good repeaters, except where noted.
Japan loves its roses. Suntory and others are also breeding these amazing plants.

We are very grateful to those rose authorities around the world who have kindly donated many varieties of rare roses to our garden.
  • The late Mr. Seizo Suzuki, Japan : He donated part of his collection: 90 varieties of species roses and 200 varieties of old garden roses, enabling us to open Rose Garden Alba, the predecessor of Kusabue-no-Oka Rose Garden.
  • Mrs. Odile Masquelier, Lyon, France : She is known as the owner of the beautiful garden featuring roses, La Bonne Maison. From her collection as many as 200 varieties of rare roses were donated to the garden.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Viru Viraraghavan, Kodaikanal, India : They raise heat-resistant roses, and use species roses such as R. gigantea and R. clinophylla in their breeding programme. Their roses including HT ‘Blushing Yuki’ and some amazing Clinophylla hybrids are planted in the garden.
  • Mrs. Helga Brichet, Santa Maria, Italy : She has greatly contributed to the preservation of heritage roses through her activities in the WFRS. From her own collection, many rare China roses and Gigantea hybrids were donated to us.
  • Vintage Gardens in California, US : The gardens donated to us 50 very rare heritage roses from their collection.
  • Huaian Rose Garden, Jiangsu Province, China : It sent us old China and Tea roses originating in China with Chinese names. It is said some of them were raised in the 12th century.
  • Prof. Yoshihiro Ueda, Japan : From his precious collection of wild roses from Japan and China, many roses, including very attractive R. chinensis spontanea, were donated to us.
  • Dr. Yuki Mikanagi, Japan : She is a specialist in wild roses in Japan and in rose pigments. She donated to us many of rare specimens, e.g. R. luciae ‘Anemone Form’ and R. sambucina.


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