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".


  1. It's truly beautiful Paul. How is its disease resistance? I'd imagine that being so close to the ground, as it is, black spot would give it a hiding if it was prone to it.

  2. This hasn't been grown outside of the greenhouse yet, so who knows. I am planting a copy of it out in the test garden this Spring for that purpose.

  3. Also reminds me of what a friend told me once when I started developing new breeds of rabbits too... build your house first and then paint it.

  4. Beautiful rose. It's amazing when you start thinking about breeding roses that you suddenly notice the entire plant structure. I've been looking to do some crosses with some HT's but have not been real happy with some of the shrub form. As usual Mr. Moore seems to have it right.

  5. Hi Paul!

    What a gorgeous shade of peach/orange that rose is! Just beautiful.