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