Monday, December 28, 2009

85-05-21 revisited

I was sorting through my 2009 photo library and ran across this seedling photo (and many others!) I thought worth sharing.

This is a cross of 'Yellow Charles Austin' X 'Out of Yesteryear'. 2005 was the last time I used 'Out of Yesteryear' as a parent, simply because I had seedlings from the Bracteata line I felt had moved more in the direction I wanted to go. (The problem with using 'Out of Yesteryear' as a parent is that it rarely breeds strong colors. Most seedlings will be off whites, as seen here)

85-05-21 is one of the better Bracteata hybrids I have produced: it has a compact, full shrub growth habit (it appears to remain about 2 X 2 feet), attractive bloom form and a very strong, rich scent. Unfortunately it also has another trait that is far less desirable: it doesn't propagate easily from cuttings, and so I regard this as a "near miss", unlikely to appear in commerce. I may distribute this to a few friends in the business to see if they can do any better than I was able to in propagating it. Perhaps its something about my climate it doesn't respond well to.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas, folks.

Best wishes for a warm safe and enjoyable day with friends.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

New intro for 2010

I have a new variety being introduced by Rogue Valley Roses for 2010. It is a large shrub/climber called 'Janet Inada'. Take a look at it on the RVR web site: 'Janet Inada' for more information.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


NOTE: I made an error when listing the parentage of this rose, see revised parentage below.

This is beginning to impress me in its second year. 'Midnight Blue' X 'Lilian Austin'. Very intensely scented.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fall color.

A few days ago I snapped a few informal pics of the Fall foliage colors on some of my L83 hybrids. Then last night a friend sent me photos of some of his R. rugosa Fall foliage, and those were quite spectacular. So, that prompted me this morning to collect a few nice leaves and take them into the "studio" and do proper pics.

The first image shows a group of L83 seedlings, several of which displayed very rich yellow coloring, and a few had good reds as well.

The second image is a selection of leaves from R. carolina, which typically puts on a brilliant Fall display. The one leaf at lower right in the. R. carolina image is a first generation R. foliolosa hybrid (R. foliolosa X 'Little Chief', in fact) and this cultivar always produces great Fall color.

Normally my plants of the F2 'Basye's Amphidiploid' hybrid produce excellent Fall color also, but this year they haven't done as well. Most of the garden is not coloring particularly well, in fact, likely because we have had only one mild frost so far.

I think that breeding for the feature of good Fall coloring in rose foliage is worthwhile and generally overlooked entirely. Don't you agree? ;-)

Monday, September 28, 2009

On vacation.

I have decided for a variety of reasons to take a vacation from participating in all of my Web activities, and that will include this blog, which is now pretty much my sole venue for news and discussion about what I do. I need a little bit of a mental health break: sometimes the Web can be a very taxing place. In the meantime, take care and enjoy the Fall weather. :-)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Ralph S. Moore, January 14, 1907 - September 14, 2009.

Above: 'Baby Austin', 2001. A second generation R. soulieana hybrid rarely exceeding 10" tall.

On September 14, 2009, at 102 years of age, Ralph S. Moore passed away. I doubt there is anyone reading this blog today who does not know that Ralph was a pioneer, an innovator whose influence on modern rose breeding has been global. Many modern roses have Moore rose genes in their pedigree, and for good reason: Ralph's roses are easy to grow, prolific with bloom and have great genetic diversity. Moore roses are often also very easily propagated; something Ralph regarded as very important for the future of the modern nurseryman. There are so many things Ralph gave us that we should be thankful for.

Some years ago Carolyn Supinger, Ralph's nursery/office manager, shared with me a stack of Ralph Moore's writings that had been archived in the office for many years. Carolyn knew that I had an interest in playing the role of unofficial "biographer" for Mr. Moore and so she arranged for me to have copies of most of the written materials from the office. Among the stacks of paper we found there, one article in particular stuck out when I read it: it contained a carefully distilled page that summarized what I have come to think of as the core philosophy of Mr. Moore's work ethic. This brief article reads more like a "note to self" than anything else, which indeed perhaps it was. The following is a direct quote from the first page of the note:

I Believe In Miracles
(or Stick Around For Fifty Years and See What Happens)
by Ralph S. Moore

In any endeavor there are four things which contribute to success. These are:

a) Communication
b) Dedication
c) Persistence
d) Vision

A. Communication: Word of mouth / Directed study / Books, etc. / What the market wants.
LOOK AT YOUR PLANTS: - they can communicate a lot, viz.:
- Water
- Fertilizer, etc. to the breeder
- Small differences / bending the plant the way you want it to go.
- The "Burning Bush" experience. (see explanation below)

B. Dedication:
- It is being there
- Its is being in it for the long haul
- It is overlooking failures and disappointments
- It is knowing it is all worthwhile

C. Persistence:
- DON'T take NO for an answer!
- It is finding a way
- It is seeking advice, but not being bound by that advice

D. Vision: Possibly the most important of all.
- It is seeing things as they might be
- It is sometimes separating that VISION into parts which step by step are attainable
- It is being ready to change course
- It is finding a better way
- It is seeing the whole as though it were already accomplished; a reality.

So you don't believe in miracles? Sequoia Nursery / Moore Miniature Roses have been a miracle....things never seen or done before have happened here. THE ROSE is a miracle. A lot has been accomplished but much more needs to be done. Let us set our sights high....THINK the IMPOSSIBLE DREAM.

*end of quote*

To elaborate on what Ralph often described as The "Burning Bush" experience, I can add the following: to me, he described this as the experience whereby a person can become so focused on the goals immediately in front of him that he neglects to look around him and see what else is happening. If the hybridizer does not look carefully at his results, important and subtle features and shifts might go unnoticed, and so opportunities can be lost. Knowing how and where to proceed can be greatly influenced by recognizing when a new door has opened. This was a very important aspect of Ralph's scientific mind and it kept him alert and watchful all of his life, in all ways.

My personal thanks to you Ralph, for all your many kindnesses and for sharing both your knowledge and your plants in order to further my own breeding goals.

Ralph Moore obituary at The Valley Voice

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What is a rose breeder? Creator or just a spreader of pollen?

Please refer to the following discussion elsewhere on the Web regarding plant patents and the nature of plant breeding:

Is that all a hybridizer is? This quote suggests that there is no creativity, discipline or talent involved in the creation of a new cultivar. I find this sentiment quite naive. If you are going to say that "The raw materials, the genetic material of the rose belongs to everyone and no one" about a rose breeder, then can you not say the same thing about the words an author uses, or the notes a composer uses? How is that different?

There is a faction that believes that living things shouldn't be patentable, and that they are not true creations, but something outside of the realm of human creative force. I tend to think this is just sour grapes on the part of some people: they don't like having to refrain from propagating and distributing a patented organism, feeling that it should be free for everyone to do with as they wish.

So, what is the work a plant breeder does? Is it art, or just craft with a heap of luck and chance thrown in? Are we like a roomful of monkeys, tossing pollen randomly at thousands of blooms, hoping for something worthwhile to spring forth?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Basye's Amphidiploid seedling available

I have propagated one of my F2 Basye's Amphidiploid seedlings with the intention of distributing it to other hybridizers who might like to do work with it. I will have plants ready to ship in another few weeks. Let me know (in comments or private email) if you would like to acquire this cultivar for breeding purposes. This is the one I am speaking of:

F2 Amphidiploid

It sets seed readily with a wide range of pollens, propagates easily and is immune to Blackspot and Mildew. It does not repeat but has the genes for remontancy in it.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

45-03-08: a Wichurana shrub.

Something I really like about some of my R. wichurana hybrids: generally they are very easy to propagate from cuttings. On August 7th I struck about 35 cuttings of the above hybrid and today they are fully rooted and ready to pot up. Thats just shy of 13 days. I just inspected these a few moments ago and I'm guessing that these could have been ready for potting up two or three days ago, so rooting may have happened in 10 days. What could be better than that?!

This is a small shrub about 2.5 X 2.5 feet, almost constantly in flower with clusters of 2" old fashioned blooms that open peachy and age to cream/white. Blooms have the typical Wichurana "apple" scent. Disease resistance is excellent, although it will get some Blackspot when disease pressure is extreme. I know little about its Winter hardiness since my climate doesn't really allow me to test for that. Parentage is 0-47-19 X 'Crepuscule'. It is a sister seedling to the Wichurana Ramber 'Mel's Heritage'.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Little Scallywag

This little fellow is a seedling I have long ignored, planted out in the long beds of Ralph Moore hybrids. Bred in 2002, its a cross of 'Oakington Ruby' and 'Little Chief'. I made this cross just as an experiment, really, to see what good ol' 'Oakington Ruby' might have up its proverbial sleeve.

This seedling is very dwarf, about 5" tall but spreading to 14" wide. It produces masses of blooms, with up to 80 flowers on a single basal panicle. Each bloom is about dime-sized. I never noticed this before, but it sets seed. I should leave the seeds where they are, but knowing me......

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Rosy Purple, by Lens

Last year I made one final attempt with Lens's 'Rosy Purple' (exceptionally good rose, disease free without chemical intervention) and crossed it with 'Vineyard Song' and 'Violette'. Both crosses yielded some fine seedlings, but the 'Violette' cross did better. This is one of the nicest ones. I can only guess whether this will become a climber or remain a shrubby Polyantha type shrub. I rather hope it is the former. It has a pleasant Musk fragrance, no sweetness to it, but rather "herbal".

Thursday, August 6, 2009

R. bracteata offers up a surprise.

R. bracteata has been a difficult species to work with, and I think part of the problem lies in the fact that the first hybrids made with it, like Moore's 'Muriel', were created using tetraploids. I have a feeling that mating it with a diploid instead might prove useful for furthering a breeding line of this kind. With that in mind, I pollinated my R. bracteata a few weeks ago with the well-known miniature breeder 'Magic Wand', also a diploid. I expected this cross to fail, but much to my surprise, I now have about a dozen fat hips forming on my R. bracteata, with 'Magic Wand' as the pollen parent. Now to see if there are actual viable seeds formed in the months ahead. We shall see.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Inheriting doubleness.

Looking at the AgCan breeder L83 you would never guess it would be capable of producing double offspring. And yet, it frequently does. Many of my selections from three crosses made in '07 are at least semi-double (15 petals or more) and some are intensely double. Take this seedling 77-07-03 for example; double in the style of many of the Old Garden Roses displaying "quartered" blooms, packed full of petals arranged in a swirl. This seedling also happens to be a pretty good repeater (compared to its somewhat reluctant siblings), grows with abandon and yet is maintaining a shapely, restrained architecture. So far it has shown complete immunity to all diseases. If that continues to be the case, then this selection may have a future in commerce. If it has Winter hardiness, as many L83 seedlings do, then even better!

FYI, as the tedium of my routine settles in, what with all the weeding and watering and dull chores to do, I am posting less and less often these days. I need a vacation, to be honest, and yet I have to maintain things. So, don't expect a lot of detailed blog posts in the next month or so; I'm just not enthused about adding yet another task to my to-do list at the moment!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Things slowing down

At this point in the season things are settling into a routine of maintenance more than anything, which becomes both monotonous, and yet allows me more time to relax, something I need. Most selections have been moved up into gallon cans and many seedlings have been culled and sent to compost. A lot of tidying up getting done.

It has become glaringly obvious to me, especially this year, that the most interesting plants (evaluated on foliage, architecture, vigor and health) are coming out of the species, the Canadian Explorers and L83. In comparison, the "cookie cutter" crosses, IE: modern shrub X modern shrub and that sort of thing (aka: stirring the same old pot 'o' genes) rarely results in something unique, vigorous or particularly healthy. This is an important reminder to me illustrating just how stale the modern rose gene pool has become, and how badly an injection of widely varied genetic material is needed. It has become very clear to me just how much roses like 'William Baffin' and 'John Davis', to name but two, really have to offer us in the search for improved garden roses. Crosses using Kim Rupert's 'Orangeade' X R. fedtschenkoana hybrid are even more remarkable, with their feathery, bluish matte foliage and exceptional vigor and beautiful growth architecture. This is a hybrid I will be using much more in the next few years. (/me makes a note to post a photo of one of these seedlings)

Speaking of which, I must go fetch more 'John Davis' pollen today for freezing, to be used in the greenhouse next April/May.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Working with Midnight Blue

Tom Carruth's 'Midnight Blue' has turned out to be a decent breeder for me, often delivering shimmering purples and amaranths and occasionally black-reds, as illustrated here. This is one of the 49-08 seedlings blooming for the first time. I wouldn't normally consider 'Smoky' as a parent, but I made this cross on a whim last year. This is the only seedling I kept from a small group of seedlings. The color and petal texture cannot be photographed accurately; you should see how velvety the petals are, and the quality of the deep garnet coloring. It is branching from the base even before the bloom is fully open, which is hopefully an indicator of good shrub architecture. Time will tell.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

56-06-05: a new yellow climber.

I've mentioned the Moore Wichurana breeder 0-47-19 several times before, and I thought I should show some of the work thats coming out of it. I use it with the goal of improving disease resistance, plus it often brings added vigor to a breeding line, and the seedlings are generally very easily rooted from cuttings.

Illustrated here is 56-06-05, a cross of 'Joycie' X (0-47-19 X 'The Yeoman')*. The pollen parent, listed as 42-03-01, is a vigorous, once-blooming climber with glossy, disease free foliage and clusters of butter yellow blooms at most every leaf axil along the arching canes. 42-03-01 rarely sets seed and its pollen is only marginally fertile, but I have persisted in getting seedlings from it since it is an opportunity for improvement of the health and vigor of the breeding line. 56-06-05, the yellow seedling pictured here, is the first seedling from 42-03-01 worth mentioning so far, and I hope it passes on its health and vigor to another generation.

56-06-05 is also a vigorous climbing plant, with bright grass green glossy foliage that so far has had no problems with disease. Blooms are fully double and about 2.5 inches across, with a pleasant, but mild Tea (phenolic) scent that often accompanies yellows. It took two years for this seedling to mature enough to start flowering, which is a reminder that sometimes its worth keeping an interesting seedling, even though it may not bloom the first (or second!) year. I'm much more inclined to keep un-bloomed seedlings from unconventional breeding lines in the hopes that they may have traits of value in furthering the line. 56-06-05 appears to be fertile, as it has produced seed hips with several pollens. I won't be able to comment on fertility till next Spring when I find out if these seeds germinate or not.

Note to breeders: I have a couple plants of 42-03-01, the pollen parent of the seedling above, if anyone is interested in working with this seedling.

* 42-03-01 is listed as 0-47-19 X 'The Yeoman', although I have reason to doubt the parentage. I suspect this seedling may in fact be a 0-47-19 X 'Out of Yesteryear' seedling that got mislabeled, since it bears a strong resemblance to several seedlings from the latter cross. It is also suspicious that a cross using 'The Yeoman' would produce anything in yellow, whereas 'Out of Yesteryear' easily could.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Suzanne/Spinosissima breeding

This year I have acquired the Spinosissima hybrid 'Suzanne' for breeding purposes. Bred by F. L. Skinner in 1950, this is generally considered to be an F2 hybrid of ('Stanwell Perpetual' X R. laxa). It is a tetraploid, which is what you would expect, given that both parents are tetraploids.

'Suzanne' has played a significant role in the breeding of the Canadian Explorer series of roses, contributing both disease resistance and Winter hardiness. The key hybrid in creating the Explorer roses was a seedling by Robert Simonet of 'Red Dawn' X 'Suzanne', with deep pink semi double blooms. Ian Ogilvie and Felicitas Svejda at Morden and AgCan took this hybrid on for breeding and in combination with R. kordesii' and others, created the Explorers. 'John Davis', 'William Baffin' and 'Champlain' all include 'Suzanne' in their pedigree.

All of these Explorers are fine roses, but the question is, what else can 'Suzanne' offer us? I have done some preliminary work in yellow using the fertile triploid 'Golden Angel' crossed with 'John Davis' and obtained some buffs and soft yellows that appear to be fertile (have set open pollinated seed). The next step is to cross the best of these yellows with each other to intensify the yellow (hopefully) and then start working 'Suzanne' into the mix. With this in mind, I have also a selection of Spinosissima hybrids this year that are 'Condoleezza' X 'William III', from which might come some non-pink hues if I'm lucky. I will select from these seedlings next year when they bloom and incorporate these with 'Suzanne' and the buff colored 'John Davis' hybrids. 'Condoleezza' has shown itself capable of producing clear yellows and peachy tints in breeding, so I am hopeful something of this sort might appear.

I think the Hybrid Spinosissimas are very beautiful and valuable landscape-friendly shrubs that should be explored in breeding to expand their color range while retaining their hardiness and disease resistance. In a decade or so, I just might have made some progress in this area, with repeat bloom thrown in as well!

'Suzanne' on HMF

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


42-03-02 = (R. wichurana X 'Floradora') X (R. wichurana X 'Floradora')

As the years pass, you discover seedlings that grab your attention for one reason or another. Perhaps one stands out as very different from its siblings, or one might have an architecture feature you like, or superior disease resistance. While it might not be immediately apparent what purpose such a seedling might serve, it is wise to hang on to it and culture it and wait for its purpose to be revealed. I know that sounds a bit too mystical to be appropriate for something as systematic and planned as rose hybridizing, but the concept has meaning.

Take 42-03-02 illustrated here, for example. It is a selfing of the Moore breeder 0-47-19. It bears a striking resemblance to the Moore Hybrid Wichurana except that it has deeper coloring and is a 2.5 foot rounded shrub, always in flower. As its parent is a known diploid, I am assuming this is also and so I now use it in breeding specifically to further diploid breeding lines. It accepts a wide range of pollens and makes seed with about 50% viability in most cases. Testing the limits of its ability this year, I put some strikingly dissimilar pollens on it, including a 'Schneezwerg' F2 seedling and 'Scabrosa'. I have also used my R. foliolosa on it, and all of these pollens have resulted in healthy, fat hips.

My recommendation to breeders is that when a seedling grabs your attention for some reason, pay attention. It might prove to be a stepping stone at some point down the line, It might not tell you what its purpose is today, but it might turn out to be meaningful in a few years time and you'll be glad you kept it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

R. fedtscenkoana

With the advances in genetic testing and DNA sequencing, it has become possible to perform tests on historic roses to determine the facts about their ancestry in ways we never could before. Case in point: the Damask roses. In 2000, an article was published in Gene magazine in which the researchers studied the genes of key Damask varieties to determine which species contributed to their creation.

From the article "Triparental origin of Damask roses" comes the following abstract:

"Damask roses are one group of old rose varieties and a key material in old European rose improvement in the 19th century. To clarify the origin of Damask roses, we selected four varieties as the oldest Damask varieties and examined the relationship between the Damask varieties and their putative ancestors at the molecular level. Randomly amplified polymorphic DNA analysis of the Damask varieties proved that they had an identical profile, indicating they were established from a common ancestor. They have never been allowed to reproduce sexually; their reproduction depends entirely on vegetative propagation. We identified three Rosa species, R. moschata, R. gallica and R. fedschenkoana, as parental species of the original hybridization that contributed to forming the four oldest Damask varieties by sequencing the internal transcribed spacer of ribosomal DNA. We also found that all the four oldest Damask varieties had chloroplasts derived only from R. moschata, as judged from psbA-trnH spacer sequences. This triparental origin of the four oldest Damask varieties can explain some morphological characteristics of the four oldest Damask varieties, like fruit shape, leaf color and the 'Moss' character."

Authors: Iwata, Kato, Ohno

Reference: Gene: 2000-Dec; vol 259 (issue 1-2) : pp 53-9

A few years ago Kim Rupert sent me cuttings of one of his R. fedtschenkoana hybrids, where 'Orangeade' was the seed parent. The plant illustrated above is that hybrid. This is, in a sense, a primitive Damask and may have value as a source of some of the same genes that make the ancient Damasks such valuable shrubs. I am currently using this Rupert hybrid in breeding and it appears to be fully fertile as a pollen parent, and although it has never set seeds for me, Kim tells me it does so in his desert climate. Since both seed and pollen parent are tetraploids, I am assuming this hybrid is as well and I will proceed on that assumption.

The Rupert hybrid is a tall arching shrub with bluish-green foliage and loads of small (1.25") white blooms, about 15 petals per bloom. It is a freely suckering plant and extremely healthy in my climate. The blooms don't always open properly, which I think is a response to our weather cycles in the early Summer. The blooms have a very odd Musky-soapy scent that many people would find unappealing.

I will soon post a photo of one of this year's seedlings derived from this R. fedtschenkoana hybrid.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Striped sport of 'Jocelyn'

Occasionally, if you are very lucky, you will find mutations called "sports" among your roses. What you see here is a striped sport of E. B. LeGrice's 'Jocelyn', one of his "brown" Floribundas. I have had this for a couple of years now, and I'd have distributed it by now except that it has proven difficult to propagate. I'm trying some different techniques now to see if I can get some plants started. Curious, eh wot?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

New photo of possible R. omeiensis hybrid available

Here is a new photo of my possible R. omeiensis hybrid.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Recognize this?

Do you recognize this rose? Its pretty obvious, isn't it? 'Basye's Purple', right? Nope. This is one of four seedlings I grew several years ago from a cross of my "R. foliolosa" (in double quotes to indicate that I suspect this is not pure R. foliolosa, but a hybrid) and 'Little Chief', the Moore miniature descended from R. multibracteata and R. wichurana. (Code number 79-02-PFC)

I don't really understand how this happened, but it suggests that R. foliolosa is a bit of a trickster, capable of producing offspring that look similar to 'Basye's Purple' when crossed with a variety of other roses. It may be important to note that 'Little Chief' is almost certainly a diploid, and it is highly likely that this "R. foliolosa" is also. The thing to do now would be to grow a population of open pollinated seeds from the "R. foliolosa" I have and see what the offspring look like. I suspect there will be noticeable variation and a percentage will look like this. I have sent out some seeds from my "R. foliolosa" and so perhaps the recipients will be able to report their results.

PS: it is of interest to me that this purple seedling appears to be fertile as both seed and pollen parent and I will be working with it more, now that I know that. If anyone wants to try pollen from it, I am willing to share it. Comment to request it.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Another misidentified species hybrid?

Several years ago I purchased a group of R. omeiensis from Lawyer Nursery in Montana. Their description and title of the plant was somewhat vague but it led me to believe these might be a form of R. sericea ptericantha, with its wide, bright red wing-like thorns. As these made some new growth it became apparent that these were not what I had hoped, but some variation on R. sericea that, for the most part, had very few thorns and the ones it did have were usually greenish in hue and not very prominent. The thorns you see in the photo are rare on these plants, and only this dark pink one makes reddish thorns; the other only greyish green. I gave most of these away and discarded what remained.

However, two individuals stood out among the group as being quite distinct. Both of these had denser foliage with more rounded, larger leaflets that were quite downy when young. Blooms come in clusters of three to a dozen at the axils along the canes and are pink with a white eye. Take a look at the shape of the receptacles in the lower left photo: tubular and elongated! There is a light, pungent musk-like scent to the blooms. Both plants have bluish canes when young and neither has ever set seed to my knowledge. Both are about 8 feet tall now, upright but arching from the top third or so. Neither gets Blackspot or Mildew.

I suspect these roses were all seed grown and the two I saved are conspicuously hybrids with something else they were growing in the field. Do any of you recognize any of this rose's features? Does it remind you of any other species?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

L83 X Stanwell Perpetual

I am pleasantly surprised today to realize that L83 has accepted pollen from 'Stanwell Perpetual' and is making fat hips. Who'd have thought?! This means nothing until they have actually germinated, of course.

Monday, June 15, 2009

R. pisocarpa

This is a charming little species, with its one inch cool pink, sweetly scented blooms that start in mid-June and continue on and off through August. It tends to prefer damp locations, and shade, whenever possible. I have a couple of hybrids from last year that are now making sturdy shrubs in the test garden, but none have bloomed yet.

The plants of R. pisocarpa here on the farm are mostly thornless, especially towards the outer canopy of the shrub, and it is always graceful with its upright habit that tends to arch horizontally towards the top of the plant. I'm hoping to capture some of its graceful architecture in its offspring, as well as its cluster flowering habit and perfume.

All of the literature I have encountered lists this as a diploid, so it might be very useful for anyone wanting to work on a Winter hardy line of diploids. Pollen, as always, available upon request.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

R. foliolosa

Rosa foliolosa is such a pretty species, I don't know why I haven't used it in breeding more than I have. I acquired this plant about 10 years ago when someone kindly sent me a few seeds collected from their plant. I don't know how mine measures up against other specimens but it is a very handsome plant and a beautiful flower. Mine is a very "rugosa rubra" hue of magenta and the flower is large: about 2.5 inches across. It starts to flower fairly late compared to the native R. nutkana and a bit after R. virginiana, and well after R. rugosa. Blooms have an excellent "wild rose" fragrance. R. foliolosa is listed as a diploid and so I am using it in breeding with that fact in mind.

If you read the descriptions of R. foliolosa, it is repeatedly stated that this is a low-growing, suckering shrub between 18" and perhaps as much as three feet. It is frequently referred to as thornless as well. Now, my specimen is a non-suckering shrub nearly 6 X 6 feet, with an average number of small, hooked thorns. The bloom color is generally listed as being white to pale/medium pink, where my plant has deep magenta blooms. I have a vague recollection that the person who gave me the seed stated that (for reasons I do not recall) they thought these seeds may be hybrids and not pure R. foliolosa. The fact that my plant deviates significantly from the average description makes me wonder if it isn't in fact a hybrid with something else, probably another species? Who knows. Since I know this is both seed and pollen fertile, the possibility of it being a hybrid makes it potentially even more valuable as a breeder.

One thing I can tell you is that years ago I made a cross of my R. foliolosa X 'Little Chief' and the three seedlings I saved all have some degree of remontancy. One of these three looks remarkably like 'Basye's Purple'! (more about that plant soon) And so, I think its high time I put this plant to work in my breeding.

Oh, one last thing: I have some seeds collected from this plant that are last year's crop. They are likely still fertile, and I am willing to distribute some of these with other hybridizers who are interested. Comment if you want to try germinating these.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The search for yellow in R. bracteata hybrids.

Parentage: 'Charles Austin' X 'Out of Yesteryear'.

I've mentioned this before: it can be very difficult to get good coloring in seedlings when using 'Out of Yesteryear' as a parent. However, once in a while luck drops something decent in your lap. This seedling is the best yellow I have had from the Bracteata breeding line so far. It may not be the most sophisticated bloom in terms of shape and petal count, but it has a beautiful rich yellow hue and it holds its color for quite a long time. It appears to have excellent resistance to Blackspot, which is a great thing. It has no discernible fragrance though. Its long basal canes break into bloom along most of the upper half of their length, with one to five blooms per lateral. It makes an attractive shrub overall.

I'm not sure this has merit as a "finished product" and so I am currently using it solely as a breeder to see if it passes on its color and excellent growth habit to its progeny. I will soon be seeing some of its first offspring bloom, so with luck I will start to get an idea of its potential as a breeder.It does not appear to set seed but its pollen is fertile. It is entirely possible that it is a triploid, as 'Out of Yesteryear' produces both haploid and diploid pollen.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

More on R. clinophylla

On days when I am suffering from hay fever (fortunately these are few, and limited to late May/early June) I shouldn't be allowed to commit anything to writing. I last talked about some seedlings I am using in breeding that came from a cross involving the Indian species R. clinophylla. I also mentioned that although two of my R. clinophylla plants bloomed as juvenile seedlings, their offspring have not shown any inclination to remontancy. That was incorrect. In fact, 92-06-02, sibling to the seedling shown in the June 9th post, blooms on new wood and will repeat on and off a little bit through the growing season. In a warm climate, it is possible that it would bloom through the year.

Case in point; the shoot pictured here. (Click to see a full sized version) This shoot, which is now about 18" long, is new wood from the base of the plant, and yet it has terminated in a cluster of bloom. There are several other new basal shoots that are 24" or longer and starting to show flower buds at the tips as well. Now, this is still a young plant and so I can't really say for sure how remontant it is, but this looks promising. I hope this plant in particular is fertile so I can move forward with a diploid line from R. clinophylla. Who knows what kind of tricks this species has up its sleeve, since we know very little about its behavior as a breeder.

Note the fine pubescence on the receptacles of the buds.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Working with R. clinophylla

Several years ago Gene Waering distributed seeds of R. clinophylla to several rose collectors, including myself. From my batch of seed I grew about a dozen plants. I gave several away, ultimately keeping only two, which had flowered within 2 months of germination. I thought perhaps these would have some kind of genes for remontancy in them, although my work with these two so far indicates this is not so. Curiously, R. clinophylla has a fragrance often compared to the smell of Acetone, much like its close relative R. bracteata.

The rose pictured here (click photo to see a full sized version) is one of my first hybrids using my R. clinophylla. This is seedling 92-06-03, bred using a self seedling of Ralph Moore's 0-47-19 I grew years ago called 42-03-02.

This seed parent, 42-03-02 is a fully remontant pink/purple with 5 to 9 petals, blooming in large panicles of 1 inch blooms on a 2.5 X 2.5 foot plant. It is highly resistant to all diseases and although not tested for its ploidy, I expect it is a diploid, like its parent. It also happens to be quite fragrant. I have not used it extensively as a parent until fairly recently, choosing it more often now because I have a use for a disease resistant diploid in my work. (You'll read more about that in the months to come, I'm sure)

Back to 92-06-03: this is the most colorful of the three seedlings from this cross to bloom so far. There are four more that have not yet bloomed and they are behaving as though they have genetic problems, so I expect they will be discarded this year. The plant in the photo has long arching canes that bloom along the length of the cane all in one quick flush, with side buds following shortly after. Each bloom lasts 2 days and then drops cleanly. This clone has a slight fragrance. This plant and its two siblings are being used as both seed and pollen parent this year to determine if they have fertility. I am using some old standard diploids with them, such as 'Old Blush' and 'Trier' with the hope that these will allow me to step forward with some remontant, fertile diploids in the next generation. The beautiful ferny glossy foliage on these (especially 92-06-02, which you can read about here) is something I want to retain, but with this ancestry, I suspect these will be evergreen, warm climate roses only. We shall see!

Monday, June 8, 2009

The search for purple: 50-08-03

I don't think anyone has done a more remarkable job of breeding new purple shrubs than Tom Carruth. Both 'Midnight Blue' and 'Ebb Tide' are astonishingly beautiful. I have done some of my own work using both of these in breeding, and happily, both set seed and both can pass on these rich colors fairly often. The tendency is to breed paler mauves and dark Beetroot crimsons (which is fine by me) but good solid purples can be had as well.

I can't go into a lot of detail describing this cross, since I have a LOT of work to do out in the greenhouse these days. However, here is its parentage: 'Midnight Blue' X ('Midnight Blue' X 'Dragon's Blood') The idea behind introducing 'Dragon's Blood' into the line was to increase the speed of rebloom (the pollen parent accomplishes this) and to intensify the color, if possible. It is also hoped that the offpsring will be better plants on their own roots. ('Midnight Blue' and 'Ebb Tide' have to be budded to perform their best, so Weeks Roses management told me)

This is one of several seedlings selected from 50-08 so far and I sense there will be more. It shows signs of being very fast with reblooming, a trait it would have picked up from 'Dragon's Blood' I expect. And yes, it has a strong fragrance.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Basye Amphidiploids, part II

Just FYI, this is one of the other F2 'Basye's Amphidiploid' hybrids I am working with. Here, you get a bit of an impression of how the foliage looks. These hybrids have especially spectacular Fall foliage color as well, a trait that I hope follows their progeny.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Basye's Amphidiploid

Many years ago someone sent me a few open pollinated seeds from Dr. Robert Basye's 'Basye's Amphidiploid', from which I obtained three seedlings. Two are large Spring-blooming shrubs with terrific vigor and complete immunity to disease. (the larger of these two is pictured above) The third is a short plant to 24" tall and blooms on and off all through the growing season. It too is immune to disease, but is a rather runty plant that lacks vigor. I have used their pollen occaionally on a few things here and there but rarely with any concentrated effort. This year I am making a bigger effort, since they probably have the ability to further the goal of disease proof roses of the future. I am assuming these seedlings are tetraploids and so I am using L83 and 'Basye's Blueberry' on them. When my 'Commander Gillette' blooms in a week or so, I will use its pollen as well.

What follows is a bit long, but well worth the read, in my opinion. Dr. Basye specifically mentioned 'Commander Gillette' in reference to working with the Amphidiploid with the goal of Blackspot immunity in mind. The following is a quote from an article written by Dr. Basye in the 1980's.

"May I outline just one plan of attack which I would consider if I were that young rose breeder? I would consider starting with a nucleus of three tetraploids: 'Commander Gillette, and the two amphidiploids, 67-305 and R. kordesii. These three stud roses carry genes of the four species carolina, rugosa, abyssinica and wichuraiana, all of which are highly resistant to Blackspot. And 'Commander Gillette' has the potential of removing the thorns."

"We would begin by crossing the two amphidiploids and growing a population of F1 seedlings. We would expect no great variation here in Blackspot resistance, but if there should be, let us select the best ones for selfing. In each of the resulting F2 generations of selfs we have a segregation of characters and thus a better chance of variation in Blackspot resistance. Again we select from each F2 the plants with the highest resistance. Let A designate this final group of plants of highest resistance. We would hope that their resistance equals or excels that of the two amphidiploids. In any case, we now have plants that carry genes of rugosa, abyssinica and wichuraiana. "

"It remains to introduce the fourth species, R. carolina, and take the first step in the thorn problem. 'Commander Gillette' is ideally equipped for this. I mentioned in a 1985 article that the cross 67-305 X 'Commander Gillette' produced a rose, 77-361, which was free of thorns and bristles and had perfectly smooth midribs of the leaves. Recently, I repeated this cross and confirmed this possibility. But before making the cross Ai X 'Commander Gillette', where Ai denotes a member of the group A, we first make a cosmetic change in 'Commander Gillette'."

" 'Commander Gillette' itself is free of thorns and bristles and has smooth midribs. Among the selfs, however, the bristles will often appear; also a rare thorn or a slight roughness on the midribs. Those recessives are easily bred out by several successive selfings. The criterion for success in such a self is that one further selfing produces a population completely free of the undesirables. One reason I have not done this before in my other breeding work is that it can lead to the loss of other recessives that are desirable. For example, 'Commander Gillette' contains a latent gene for recurrency which might be lost. I nevertheless recommend the cosmetic change for the labor saving dividends it will pay down the road - not a small item."

"We return now to the crosses of the type Ai X 'Commander Gillette' where Ai denotes a member of the group A, and 'Commander Gillette' has been subjected to the cosmetic change described. A small percentage of the seedlings of this cross should be free of thorns, bristles and roughness on the midribs. Several successive selfings of each of these should produce one or more plants homozygous with respect to each of the three traits. We repeat this routine for each member of group A. All the roses so obtained form a group B. Our final group G comes from selecting from B the plants with outstanding resistance to Blackspot."

"To further reduce the labor of the operation just described, it might be best to use the reverse crosses, 'Commander Gillette' X Ai, and mix the pollens of Ai."

"Of the group G we can that each rose it it has high resistance to Blackspot, is homozygous with respect to freedom from thorns, bristles and roughness of the midribs, and, last but not least, carries genes of four of nature's noblest roses."

Since it appears that my F2 seedlings from the Amphidiploid already have superior resistance (immunity?) to Blackspot. I am going to go ahead and pollinate all three with L83, rather than R. kordesii, since L83 is essentially a derivitive from R. kordesii with superior disease resistance and improved Winter hardiness. While this does not follow the Basye plan exactly, it does employ some of the same materials. As I say, when 'Commander Gilette' blooms in another week or so, I will include it in the crosses I make, bearing in mind Dr. Basye's outline for obtaining a superior race of disease resistant roses. If I can obtain germplasm that is capable of furthering the goal of Blackspot immunity in roses, I will be more than pleased. Its well past time we had a group of roses that could be grown without "life support" and which have better architecture and Winter hardiness, making them better shrubs for integration into a garden landscape.

Final note: I will make pollen of my Amphidiploid F2 seedlings available to anyone (in North America) who wants to experiment with them.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Something I saw while looking at R. virginiana

I was emasculating a few of the early blooms on my R. virginiana this morning and was taking note of the glandular buds and their shape and arrangement on the stems. Then it occurred to me, I have seen this somewhere else before. I picked a leaf and a bud and took it over to where 'Banshee' is located and compared the two roses. The photo above illustrates the remarkable similarity of the two roses both in foliage and the character of the flower buds. I wonder if there's any connection? There has been a lot of speculation about the origin of 'Banshee', with some references suggesting it was originally found in the prairies of Canada. Just something to ponder. I thought some of you might find the similarities between the two interesting.

Oh, and in case you are interested in R. virginiana as a breeder, its a tetraploid.

Someone asked in the comments whether 'Banshee' ever sets seed. This photo depicts seven seeds I found in one hip on my plant of 'Banshee', from last Summer. I have no idea if these would be fertile or not. (Click on the thumbnail for a larger view)

Old dogs and new tricks, part IV

A big part of what I do involves experimentation; trying unlikely combinations and testing proprietary seedlings to see what they can do. Often, this also involves dredging up very old cultivars to throw into the mix. Today's post is a creature that covers pretty much all of these territories.

120-06-02 = 174-02-17 X "Grandma's Hat". The seed parent is discussed here in a previous post. This cross was done to do several things: 1) determine what qualities the seed parent was capable of passing on, 2) to see how two extremely different roses would behave when mated, and 3) to determine if any of the health aspects of "Grandma's Hat" could be transmitted to offspring. "Grandma's Hat" is an old Bourbon/Hybrid Perpetual that was rediscovered a number of years ago, and much speculation exists over its true identity. For the most part we can only make guesses. Whatever its true identity, it is a superb rose that in many climates is one of the healthiest of repeat blooming Old Garden Roses one could wish to grow. It repeats generously, has good vigor and an outstanding fragrance. Whats not to like?!

The seed parent is a cross of a miniature and the Bracteata hybrid 'Out of Yesteryear'. I have not used it a lot in breeding till 2006 when I decided it was time to explore its qualities more aggressively. I got three seedlings from it with "Grandma's Hat" as the pollen parent, and the seedling pictured here interests me a great deal. The color is richer than the photo suggests, being deeper and more of a true crimson than pink. The plant has good vigor and best of all, it is not getting any Blackspot (or Mildew) in the test garden, even with another seedling towering over it, raining down Blackspot spores. It also has an appreciable "old rose" fragrance. I am now testing it as a pollen parent with some of the better disease free roses I grow, like the Robert Basye hybrids.

Monday, June 1, 2009

William Baffin seedling

I made a cross circa 2002 (record of date of this cross was lost) of a yellow miniature called 'Penny Ante' X 'William Baffin'. The idea was to get some yellow into Winter hardy shrubs roses, and hopefully some of 'William Baffin's disease resistance as well. In retrospect I think I could have chosen a better yellow, but you use what you have at any given time. This is the only seedling I got that had the large, arching shrub habit I wanted and the yellow coloring. These fade to white in a few days, but when fresh these are a beautiful clear Canary yellow. I have not used this seedling to further my goals, since it has less than ideal Blackspot resistance, but it appears quite hardy, with no freeze damage ever.

If anyone reading this blog wants pollen from this to experiment with, just post a comment and I'll get some pollen ready to mail out.

About open pollinated seedlings.

I'm mighty busy these days, pollinating for up to 6 hours a day, plus all the rest of my chores, so I have to be brief. I want to make a case for open pollinated seeds. Often they will be selfings and occasionally pollen will be from elsewhere in the garden, delivered by Bees, etc. While it can be true that you can get loss of vigor and the appearance of undesirable recessive traits appearing in OP (open pollinated) seedlings, occasionally you get something of merit as well. Case in point: 'Oshun', pictured here. (Click to see a larger version) This is an OP seedling from 'Abraham Darby', by David Austin. This rose is in many ways very similar to its parent, but it has a shallower bloom that tends to quarter. The fragrance is strong and Citrus-like, and blooms are often presented along the length of the long canes. All in all, well worth the bother of growing a handful of open pollinated seeds, don't you think?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Crested Damask

Just a quick post to show off the exquisite buds of my 'Crested Damask', released in limited quantities a few years ago, Breeding is 'Marbree' X 'Crested Jewel'. This has some of the best sepals of all the crested hybrids I know. I haven't tried its pollen on anything yet, perhaps I should?

Click on the image to see the larger image.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Oh man, thats UGLEEE!

Sometimes you get some real "horror shows" in a group of seedlings, and this is one of the finest I have encountered in ages. This is another of the 'Golden Angel' X 'John Davis' seedlings, blooming for the first time. Yes, what petals it does have are greenish, and it is proliferating like mad. (I think I'll nickname this "The Mad Hatter") Ordinarly I'd throw this kind of monstrosity out immediately, but the plant is so healthy and vigorous that its a temptation to keep it as a novelty. Good thing it has no stigmas or stamens, huh? *laughs*

I have R. woodsii pollen to spread around.....gotta run!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

R. nutkana

I love this graceful, hardy species, but I can't think of a great way to use it this year. The last thing I want to do is cross it with some modern HT or Floribunda, because thats not at all the kind of character I want out of it. What would you do if you had 2500 different roses to cross R. nutkana with???

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

They just keep getting better.

The 77-07 group of L83 seedlings continue to flower, and yesterday there was a new crimson seedling that is the best of the lot so far. (Click on photo) Today this bloom has opened to a deep crimson red with purplish splashes on the outer petals, expanding to 4" in diameter. Slight fragrance. Very busy afternoon watering and out pollinating some of the Rugosas, but I wanted to share this photo with you.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The search for yellow through L83, part II

There isn't a lot to say here that wasn't said in the previous post. This is another "orange" seedling obtained from an L83 cross. This time I used 'Golden Angel' as the seed parent. It is surprising how easily influenced by the seed parent these L83 hybrids are. Very few of these have been five petaled blooms (L83 is a five petaled pink) and in fact, most have been quite full. This selection is one of only two from this group that has shown any yellow pigment worth mentioning. It has been potted into a five gallon can for growing on. It will be allowed to open pollinate to determine if it is fertile. The L83 seedlings from '07 are looking very promising. I'll need to get these propagated and tested in some Northern gardens ASAP.

More from L83: 37-07-03

The seedling pictured here comes from a cross of Ralph Moore's yellow breeder 1-72-1 X L83, the AgCan tetraploid Kordesii breeder. The idea here, of course, was to work towards yellow in the Winter hardy, Blackspot resistance line. This is as close as any of this group has come to yellow, and it is peachy pink with a yellow center at best, but I think it represents a step towards better things. As 1-72-1 is a tetraploid yellow miniature climber, the likelihood is that all of this group are tetraploids also, and therefore fertile with any luck. The first thing I will do is allow these seedlings to self and see if seeds result. Then next year, if the open pollinated seeds germinate, I will make some intentional crosses, probably mating this with other peachy seedlings from the same cross. (There is one other so far and many still to bloom) I will undoubtedly mate this with the 'Golden Angel' X 'John Davis seedling mentioned a few days ago.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Results from the L83 crosses: 77-07

At left: 77-07 selections. Click on the photo to see a full sized image.

In 2007 I made a few crosses using the Agriculture Canada breeder L83 by Dr. Felicitas Svejda. It is basically a R. wichurana and R. rugosa selection, multiple generations long. It also happens to be a tetraploid, making it particularly useful in breeding with modern lines. There were three crosses I got large numbers of seedlings from and L83 was the pollen parent in every case. 'Seed parents were: 'Golden Angel', 1-72-1 (Sister seedling to 'Rise 'N' Shine') and a proprietary red Floribunda I use extensively in breeding. Out of at least 70 seedlings of each cross, at least 40 of the two yellow groups were saved and potted into gallons and about 60 seedlings from the red cross were potted on.

77-07, the red group, has been the most fruitful. I would estimate that about 35% of these, a much higher number than expected, have been strong reds and several have been large blooms and very double. In the photo, 77-07-08 shows what some of the more double ones have looked like. Several of these have had fragrance and there was one that was a purple very similar to 'Tuscany'. So far about 20 of the reds have been moved on into 5 gallon containers and will be moved outside to watch their progress. This has been a very exciting group of seedlings and I am eager to continue trying new ideas with L83.

Last Fall, some members of the Rose Hybridizers Association received some of my surplus seedlings from the 77-07 group, so this information will be of particular interest to you. Have any of you seen any of the seedlings flower yet?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Breeding for Winter hardy yellows: 09-07-11

In recent years the creation of improved "landscape friendly" shrubs for cold climates has become more of an aspect of my work. To that end, I made a cross in 2007 of 'Golden Angel' X 'John Davis'. I have noted that 'Golden Angel' has bred not only some very disease resistant varieties ('Apricot Twist' is nearly 100% immune to Blackspot and Mildew) but also has the potential for breeding cold climate yellows, seeing as its seed parent was the Brownell climber 'Golden Glow'.

Here is one of about 14 seedlings I obtained last year from this cross of 'Golden Angel' X 'John Davis'. In my wildest dreams I did not imagine getting a yellow as clear and strong as this. (Bloom is about 2/3 open. I will photograph it again later, and get a shot of the plant also) As was expected, this group did not bloom in their first year, as these types of seedlings tend not to have any juvenile remontancy. These first flowers are not large, about 2" across, but the plant appears to have superior architecture and the foliage is very beautiful, with a nearly species-like look: dark green, matte and a bluish sheen. There are two other yellows from this group so far and several still to bloom. This is very exciting as these may prove to be useful in the breeding of good yellow disease free shrubs for locations with harsh Winters.

Very busy day, so I can't go into any more detail. I hope to get another photo later today. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Searching for better shrub architecture: 119-06-01

As the years go by and my experience with rose breeding accumulates, I have come to really appreciate the sage advice of Ralph Moore, who said to me: make the plant first and then hang the flowers on it. When Ralph said this, I suddenly realized how many roses in commerce are all about the flower and not about the architecture of the shrub. I don't know many Hybrid Teas that make good landscape shrubs. They're bred to produce cut flowers: solitary blooms on top of tall straight stems. That doesn't exactly add up to being a good shrub for the landscape. With this philosophy in mind, I have sought more and more to breed for attractive shrub growth habits. The native American species are beginning to play a role in this pursuit now, as are some of the Rugosas and some of my proprietary hybrids.

I recently mentioned 174-02-17, one of my Hybrid Bracteatas that I use for breeding. It isn't a very attractive shrub in itself, with its wild, wiry horizontal growth and somewhat sparse foliage and small blooms. But it does breed some very good things, particularly attractive shrub architecture. The seedling pictured above is one of the best offspring I have obtained from 174-02-17. ('Hot Cocoa' was the pollen parent) 119-06-01 is the only seedling I got from this cross, and its quite remarkable. At two years of age now, it has built into a very full 3 foot wide shrub with excellent form. The plant is densely foliated with dark glossy leaves and the plant is full right down to ground level. No bare knees on this rose! New basal shoots tend to be quite horizontal, a trait from the Bracteata parent, and they grow more upright as they develop. This makes for a very well rounded plant outline. Blooms are 3" in diameter and quite full, globe shaped. The petals drop cleanly, and there is a pleasant "modern rose" scent. The soft orange blooms are produced in clusters of three to 25, opening sequentially over a long period. Happily, this cultivar is easily propagated from semi-hardwood cuttings.

For me, this represents a nearly ideal shrub in terms of its architecture, bloom presentation and overall effect. I am now using 174-02-17 (its seed parent) extensively in breeding to further explore its capabilities. Funny how you can ignore a seedling for years and not consider its potential as a parent. It just goes to show you that its smart to try out many of your seedlings as parents before you dismiss them as "near misses".

Bee snobbery

Whats the buzz?? I tell people that I don't bother to cover blooms after they have been pollinated. Why not? Because I have observed Bees working around me as I pollinate the roses and I have noticed the same behavior over and over again: Bees won't visit a bloom that has had its anthers removed! So I would suggest you spare yourself the trouble of covering pollinated blooms to prevent Bees from randomly dropping unwanted pollen on your blooms. The likelihood of this happening appears to be very, very slight. (You still might want to cover blooms if you expect rain to wash off your pollen, of course)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Mistakes were made, part II

Some would say that hybridizing is mostly luck and happy accidents. I would tend to agree with that. Consider this rose. I call it simply "Floor Moss". Why? Because it was a chance seedling that grew in the gravel floor of one of my greenhouses, under a bench just at the edge of one of the aisles. I first saw it about four years ago when it was about 4 inches tall, and I thought to myself just leave it be and see how it does. I figured that if it survived on near total neglect where it was, it might be worth keeping. Well, it grew like the proverbial weed and flowered for the first time in 2008. This year it has had 8 blooms and at least that many still to come. Yes, its a Moss hybrid and I suspect it is a 'Condoleezza' hybrid, as I was doing a lot of crosses with it back then. In fact, since it is a once-blooming Moss, I have a feeling that its other parent might be "Nutshop", Ralph Moore's Moss bred from 'Schoener's Nutkana'. The bicolor pink style of this flower supports that possibility. Of course, I will never really know.

Anyway, I will probably put some pollen on this rose tonight, to see if I can recapture the remontancy in the next generation. I have already proven that it is fertile; I collected open pollinated seed from it this Spring and they germinated easily.

Bracteata line breeding.

It seems to me that line breeding is rarely pursued in the breeding of roses. In part, I expect this is because undesirable recessives start to show up and loss of hybrid vigor becomes an issue as well. Still, many of the Canadian Explorer roses rely heavily on line breeding, making extensive use of the 'Red Dawn' X 'Suzanne' line and the 'Kordesii' line, and with great success.

Well, I have been working with the Moore line of Hybrid Bracteatas for several years now and it has become very clear that the biggest battle with these is getting decent color out of them. Ralph Moore's most attractive hybrid of the group (for me) is 'Out of Yesteryear', whose parentage is 'Sequoia Gold' X 'Muriel'. 'Muriel' is Moore's first successful cross using R. bracteata (crossed with 'Guinee') that was fully fertile and able to carry forward the line. 'Muriel' is a tetraploid, as is 'Sequoia Gold', but when these two were crossed, 'Out of Yesteryear' resulted and it turned out to be a triploid! How two tetraploids mated to produce a triploid is a bit of a mystery, but there you have it. Even more interesting, 'Out of Yesteryear' is a fully fertile triploid, contrary to the mytholgy of triploids being infertile. You can use its pollen on pretty much anything and get loads of seedlings from it.

I've done plenty of crosses with 'Out of Yesteryear' over the years and there are some excellent traits it passes on, and some not so great ones. Its offsrping tend to have excellent vigor, beautiful foliage and often very beautiful blooms packed with petals. Many are often fragrant as well. However, seedlings can be very thorny, the petal texture too thin and rarely do you get anything with strong coloring. Many seedlings are just white. So when I get a seedling that has decent color, I'm inclined to explore it as a stepping stone towards Bracteata hybrids with good color, which leads me to these two.

174-02-17 = 'Sheri Anne' X 'Out of Yesteryear'. One of its siblings tested as a tetraploid and I suspect this is also. It is a thorny plant that is more horizontal than vertical, with smallish glossy foliage. It blooms at many nodes along the previous season's canes and can bloom in large clusters sometimes. Blooms have a vaguely HT shape when in bud (see photo) but open to a flat 2.5 inch shape. Color is a medium red in bud, fading to a pale red/pink. It sets seed with most any pollen, but seed fertility is low at about 10-20%. However, when it does produce seedlings, a high percentage of them has something about them that warrants further evaluation. Offspring tend to bloom in big clusters with compact, graceful architecture and good color. One of my favorite new shrubs came from a cross of 174-02-17 X 'Hot Cocoa'. (More about this soon)

33-03-03 = 'Twilight Skies' X 'Muriel'. Why, you might ask, did I select the mauve miniature 'Twilight Skies' as the parent for this cross? Because it was there! I had grown it for two years when it was new and it set seed readily, bloomed like mad, so I thought why not? It was untested and might have qualities that would make it worthwhile as a parent. The seedlings from this group were mostly lavender/pinks with one coral colored one in the mix. Several were grown for two years and all but 33-03-03 were discarded for poor vigor or unattractive blooms. 33-03-03 is a semi-climbing plant with dark green glossy foliage and 2.5" medium red blooms that fade to a reddish pink with age, about 25 petals, cupped in form. It blooms in clusters all along the arching canes, repeating in flushes through the year. David Zlesak kindly did ploidy tests on some of my Bracteata seedlings for an article we were co-authoring*, a few years back and it turns out that 33-03-03 is a tetraploid. It is fertile in both directions and should be compatible with most other tetraploids.

174-02-17 and 33-03-03 happen to be growing side by side in one of the greenhouses, both descended from R. bracteata through 'Muriel', and both were selected for their relatively strong coloring. Yet it never occurred to me to cross the two together....until now. The idea (and hope) here is that some of the more interesting Bracteata traits might be reenforced while retaining the vigor, repeat blooming habit and red coloring of each. Anything could happen of course. I might end up with a load of diseased seedlings with no vigor and no rebloom. Its possible the seeds might not even germinate, assuming I get seeds at all! We shall see.

*See: Bracteata Gene Counts Article

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Mistakes were made......

I'm pretty good about documenting my work properly and making sure things are labeled clearly and correctly, but occasionally accidents happen. In this case, I have a seedling germinated in 2007 that is clearly not from the cross the label says its from. 130-06 is a group of open pollinated 'Old Blush' seedlings. There is not even a hint of 'Old Blush' in this plant. What I expect happened is that a seed from another cross wormed its way into the 130-06 row and thats how it was labeled. In '06 I did quite a lot with 'Midnight Blue' and this seedling looks very similar to some of the seedlings from those crosses. Anyway, I am going to assume this had 'Midnight Blue' as a seed parent and leave it at that. I wouldn't be the first hybridizer who lost track of the parentage of a rose.

I have just moved this seedling from a 5 gallon container outside into the garden for further evaluation. In another year I will have a better idea of its merits (and flaws). It has a very decent fragrance, but the blooms are a bit on the small side at 2 to 2.5 inches. The color of the half open buds is amazing and defy photographing; almost black they are such a deep Amaranth purple.

In the weeks to come I will likely present numerous test seedlings, as the 2007 and 2008 crop are all coming into bloom now.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Tip of the day.

When emasculating blooms to prepare them for pollination, I recommend two things in particular:

1) Try not to handle the receptacle (ovary behind the petals) with your fingers, as the oil and bacteria on your hands can cause the developing hip to rot.

2) Leave at least one row of petals on the pollinated bloom when you are done. There is evidence that suggests you get a better rate of "take" when you leave some petals on the bloom while the pollen is settling onto the stigma.

Friday, May 15, 2009

My first hybrid: "Red Star"

My alternative name for this seedling is "Misery". *laughs*

Yes, this is the first rose I raised from seed, in about 1997. I recall that 'Black Jade' was the seed parent and probably Austin's 'Wenlock' was the pollen parent. I've filed this under "what was I thinking???" This is a miserable little seedling, with mildew loving foliage and its 12" stumpy, awkward growth habit. It has nothing going for it at all, but I keep it because it was the very first seedling I germinated. I doubt many hybridizers still have their first seedling, which probably speaks more to their good sense than their sentimentality!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Old dogs and new tricks, part III

In 2006 I decided to do an experiment with 'Fortune's Double Yellow', the massive climbing Hybrid Gigantea, by putting its pollen on my favorite orange mini breeder, 'Joycie'. Why? To see what would happen, of course! Fortune's Double Yellow' is believed to be capable of breeding strong yellow offspring, and yet as far as we know it has not been well explored as a breeding plant. It is probably almost completely sterile as a seed bearer but its pollen is quite fertile.

I obtained about 21 seedlings from cross 47-06, none of which bloomed in their first year of growth, which was Summer of 2007. They were moved into gallon pots to mature for the following year. In 2008, three of these bloomed: one was a deep orange five-petaled flower with a dark rusty-red overlay, one was a very double ruffled hot pink 2" bloom and one was a very large medium pink Tea-shaped bloom on a vigorous plant which would obviously be a climber. In fact, that latter is proving to grow in very much the style of a Gigantea climber with classic Gigantea foliage and large, vigorous canes bearing a few hooked prickles. The rose illustrated here is that seedling. As you can see it holds it blooms in a pendant fashion, which is wholly appropriate for a climber that will present its blooms from several feet above the viewer's head.

Now, in Spring 2009, fourteen of the 47-06 group have bloomed and for the most part are quite disappointing. None has strong yellow coloring except the five-petaled orange-red one. Most are pinks with varying degrees of yellow, and a couple are phototropic, developing a red blush with age. I have pollinated a few of these, and used their pollen elsewhere, to determine if any are fertile. I believe 'Joycie' is a tetraploid, and 'Fortune's Double Yellow' being a diploid, these seedlings are likely triploids. (Although work David Zlesak and I did with the Moore Hybrid Bracteatas showed that seedlings of mixed ploidy crosses did not always have the ploidy expected of the cross) With any luck this big pink seedling will be fertile, as it would be fun to create some new Hybrid Gigantea climbers for mild climates.

I have documented the rest of these seedlings with photos and will show these in the next few days. I just need to make time to prepare the photos, but with the pollination season in full swing right now, that could be difficult! Stay tuned.