Monday, April 13, 2009

'Joycie' X 'Fortune's Yellow'

'Fortune's Double Yellow' is a very old Hybrid Gigantea brought from China circa 1845 by the explorer Robert Fortune. (One account documents its appearance in Europe under the name 'Rosa pseud-indica' pre-1820 when John Lindley included it under than name in his "Monograph of Roses" in 1820. It is entirely possible that it had been brought into European horticulture prior to Robert Fortune's introduction of it. We can never be certain of some of these details.) This is a very large climbing rose of massive stature. My first encounter with it was in Fresno, CA in 1999 where I found a specimen of it climbing a utility pole/fence where it had reached well over 25 feet tall and was at least 40 feet wide. It blooms in one brilliant display in the Spring, with masses of yellow/orange and pink tinted cupped blooms about 4" across. It has a very pleasant scent. This is a tender cultivar that doesn't take kindly to the cold, although I know people who grow it successfully as a modest sized shrub in zones as cold as USDA 6.

In a recent article entitled "Fun With Color: The Pigments in Rose Blossoms" by Don Holeman in the Rose Hybridizer's Association newsletter, Don painstakingly documents the floral color pigments in a number of well-known roses and provides some analysis of their meaning and potential in hybridizing. 'Fortune's Double Yellow' is mentioned in the article and the following statement is particularly interesting to me: "One source for a full compliment of yellow genes that don't derive from either 'Soleil d'Or' or 'Reve d'Or' is the Hybrid Gigantea 'Fortune's Double Yellow' ('Beauty of Glazenwood'). It also has a fair amount of cyanin and chrysanthemin to offer. Discovered in a garden in China, it has never been explored for breeding despite its fertile pollen."*

Until now, that is.

In 2006 I obtained pollen of 'Fortune's Double Yellow' from some friends in California (my plant was languishing in my open garden at the time; it has been rescued since) and I pollinated the orange miniature 'Joycie' with it. From these seeds I obtained 19 seedlings. None bloomed in their first year, which was no surprise. In Spring of 2008, three of these one year old plants flowered, sparingly; a very double Tea-like medium pink bloom about 1.5" across, a five-petaled deep orange with a yellow eye, and a large flowered deep pink that aged to a dusky lavender with greysih tints. None of these had significant fragrance. The large pink one was moved up into a five gallon can and grew like a proverbial weed, making a few 7 foot canes in one season. It is now poised to bloom, with clusters of buds at every node along the canes, just like its pollen parent 'Fortune's Double Yellow'.

Now, in April 2009, fifteen of these seedlings are set to flower. Some will bnear only one or two blooms and others have quite a few. Most of these will be blooming for the first time. The photo above depicts the buds of two of the first bloomers showing color through the sepals. These clearly have significant pigmentation, as predicted. While few, if any of these seedlings will have merit as a "finished product", I hope they have sufficient fertility to move ahead into a next generation of breeding. *crosses fingers* (This is an appealing idea since all of our modern yellow roses get their genes for yellow from R. foetida, a species that also contributed susceptibility to the fungal disease Blackspot. Perhaps this new avenue will help in overcoming some of the flaws in modern shrub roses?) Finally, after all these years, 'Fortune's Double Yellow' may get a chance to contribute its yellow genes to the breeding of a new race of richly colored hybrids.

*Rose Hybridizers Association Newsletter, Vol. XXXIX, No. 4, Winter 2008


  1. I've been thinking lately that the yellow in FDY is much like that of 'Mutabilis' as it seems to change colour as it ages just like it.

  2. I'll have to go back to Don's article and see if he mentions 'Mutabilis' and its pigmentation. I think most would say they believe 'Mutabilis' and 'Fortune's Yellow' are somewhat related, perhaps more than we thought.