Thursday, December 30, 2010

Bulbophyllum echinolabium

Contrary to popular perceptions, I do grow more than just roses. Behold: Bulbophyllum echinloabium, an Orchid native to Sulawesi and Celebes. My friend Helene owns Briggs Hill Orchids in Eugene, OR, and that is where my plant came from. I believe this was seed grown, and this is the first time it has bloomed in the two-plus years I have been culturing it. The bloom you see here is about 12" tall from tip to tip, but this species can produce blooms twice that size as it matures. Its "fragrance" is not unlike that of some deceased sea creature decaying on a warm beach. Lovely. (It looks better than it smells, if that wasn't clear)

Sunday, December 26, 2010



If you attempt to look up the pedigree of the David Austin roses of the past decade or so, that is what you'll see. As a "fellow explorer" in rose genetics, (No, I am not drawing any comparisons between myself and Mr. Austin) I find that rather annoying and disappointing. I'd like to know what went into the making of some of his current roses. Perhaps he is just protecting what he regards as "proprietary information", or maybe he just doesn't want us to know that he is using the likes of 'Fragrant Cloud' or (gawd forbid) 'Tropicana' to achieve his results. Who knows.

I gravitate much more towards Ralph Moore's way of thinking about such matters. Allow me to paraphrase him: What have I got to lose by sharing information about parentage of my roses? You can see my "recipe" for a rose, but without my personal "ingredients", you can't make the same "cake". And besides, by the time a rose makes it to market, I've already moved ahead by six or eight years or more, and so why would I care if someone tried to duplicate my results?

Makes sense to me. I'd rather describe in a fair bit of detail what I am working on and how I am getting there. Half the fun is getting pleasing results, the other half is sharing what I've learned in the process.

And just because it doesn't feel right to write a blog post without a picture, we have today: 19-02-03 from a cross of 'Joycie' X 'Crepuscule'.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Better version of recent slideshow

Of course, I should have posted this video version of my rose photo book on YouTube in the first place, for its improved quality. It can be viewed full screen at 720HD if you wish, and you can pause the video if you want to read the text. I hope you like it. Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Touring the photo library, Part II

53-03-08: ('Tuscany Superb' X 'Othello') X 'The Yeoman'.

As you can probably decipher from the code number of this one (cross #53, year 2003, seedling #8 of that cross) I have had this for several years now and I've been watching its performance in the garden. I made the cross hoping for a percentage of repeaters, and yet none of the dozen or so I kept for testing have been repeaters. However, this one has other merits: it is totally Blackspot free (that is remarkable in this climate, where Blackspot rules) and is an aesthetic winner. It also bears a delicious fragrance, influenced by (but not a carbon copy replica of) its pollen parent, 'The Yeoman', whose Anise-scented blooms are anathema to some, and heaven-on-earth to others.

I have started propagating 53-03-08 and have sent a few plants out for testing on other regions. I don't exactly plan on releasing this commercially; I mean, do we really need more once-blooming pink roses? (Obviously rhetorical: my answer is no) Still, it is a lovely, easy to care for shrub. It appears to max out at about 7 feet tall and a bit wider, with an arching outline and no inclination to sucker widely.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

December treat.

43-09-02: 'Golden Glow' X 'Morden Sunrise'.

The idea here is improved winter hardiness in the yellow color range. Both parents are renowned for their ability to thrive in harsh, wintry climates, and so I hope to see some of that persist in this cross. At this point only two seedlings remain, and this is the nicer one of the two. Curiously, it has inherited the peculiar Cinnamon-like fragrance of its Canadian parent, 'Morden Sunrise'.
Its rather nice to have a late December bloom as pretty as this, just before Christmas. One might almost think spring was just around the corner. (HAH!)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Sorting through my photo library.

I have so many photos I have to organize, its not funny. Most of it is documentation of the rose garden; seedlings and named varieties. I found this image from '08, illustrating my oldest specimen of 'Joyce Barden' my first commercial introduction from 1999.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Revisiting old work

A seedling from around 2000: 'Charles de Mills' X 'La Belle Sultane'. It has been nicknamed "Farside deMills", a name that distinguishes it from its neighbors, by proximity.

This is a once-blooming hybrid, suckering growth habit, making an ever-widening thicket of 3 foot tall canes. You can see the influence of 'La Belle Sultane' in its Damask-like sepals, while the bloom form is clearly that of its seed parent. A lovely thing, although it has languished in test bed #1 for many years, having been disqualified for commercial purposes. (too hasty, perhaps?) Maybe I ought to auction off naming rights....hmmm.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Rosy slideshow

With Spring seemingly so far away, I thought it would be nice to share a slideshow of garden photos. Enjoy!


This is a movie made using the content from a self-published book of my rose photos, entitled The Uncommon Rose Collection, published December 2010. There is a high resolution version available on YouTube here as well.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Beautiful Losers

Seedling # 03-06-07: 'Hot Cocoa' X 'Dragon's Blood'. Few seeds from this cross germinated, and this is the sole survivor of the lot.

I can't quite make the photograph reflect the subtleties of hue that the bloom actually possesses; its not just a red, its that odd shade of Chinese red with an overlay of "smoke bush" purple that several of the "brown" roses has. Not even Photoshop can tweak it to accuracy. Oh well.

So, why the title of this post? Because I have been watching this seedling for three years now (pollinated in 2006, germinated in April of 2007) and I've been hoping it might eventually show some vigor and enthusiasm. It hasn't. It has never exceeded 18" tall and prefers to flower rather than build infrastructure. It also tends to die back rather badly even in our mild winters. I can just hear what you're thinking: maybe it just needs to be budded onto stronger roots? Well, yes....odds are that would improve its performance, but Since the rose industry is in such trouble now, I am insisting that any of my selections have to prosper on their own roots. Bud grafting just isn't an option anymore. Distribution of new cultivars may soon be the job of the many small "boutique" and home-grown nurseries, and few (if any) of those nurseries are going to have the ability or the willpower to propagate by bud grafting; it will all fall to propagation by cuttings. I need to pay attention to that, and assume that is where the future of commercial roses lies.

Anyway, it is a remarkable flower when it is doing well, with its 'Pat Austin' shaped cupped blooms and its muted cinnabar hued petals. Its just a shame the damn thing doesn't grow worth a hoot. Maybe it has something to offer as a pollen parent, maybe I'll give that a try next Spring.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Great Fall color

This year I germinated two seeds from a cross of R. arkansana X 'Carlin's Rhythm', a tetraploid species X a modern tetraploid shrub descended from the Basye thornless breeding line. Neither of these two seedlings has flowered yet, but both are very attractive compact plants (so far) with the promise of a good growth habit. Although I've not seen the blooms yet, I know one thing for sure: I like the Fall foliage color! WOW!

Click for a full-sized image.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pedro Dot

This is a folio of photos and correspondence sent by Pedro Dot to Ralph Moore decades ago. I will be scanning these documents and formatting them into an article soon. These photos are unique and of great historical importance. I look forward to making them available to my readers.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

44-09-13: Therese Bugnet hybrid

Another seedling showing great Fall color. This is a cross of (R. foliolosa X Little Chief) X Therese Bugnet. The foliolosa hybrids seem to have the best Fall color of all.

R. soulieana X R. foliolosa

This is one of many various crosses using R. foliolosa that is starting to show exceptional Fall foliage coloring. What a nice trait to include. People seem to be unaware of the fact that roses can provide seasonal features beyond bloom color.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

An Oddity

As the years go by, you encounter many aficionados of The Rose who introduce you to some very curious things along the way. Certainly Ralph Moore has shown me, by far, the greatest number of rose oddities and today I want to introduce you to one of these.

This is the Reversion Sport of The Green Rose, R. chinensis viridiflora. It was discovered by Moore at Sequoia Nursery many years ago, growing as a lone branch on his mother plant of viridiflora, bearing semi-normal pink blooms. It doesn't always make such "regular" looking flowers as you see here; often they are halfway between normal and the odd green sepal formation of viridiflora. When they appear as ordinary pink China blooms, they are at their best.

As you can see, the Reversion Sport does produce normal reproductive parts, and in fact the plant will set seed if allowed to. (I don't recall whether these germinate or not, but I'm sure I have sown the seeds years ago) The appearance of this sport lends credibility to the supposition that viridiflora sported from 'Old Blush' at one time. Perhaps that's true! Curious, eh?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Having difficulty propagating a particular variety?

Got a rose that refuses to be propagated by cuttings or other means? You may want to try this approach.

I have a number of plants that have proven very difficult, if not impossible, to propagate by softwood cuttings during the growing season. A number of roses either lose their leaves immediately when cuttings are placed in the misting bed, or the stem turns black the moment it comes in contact with the rooting media. I've played around with alternative methods and found one very effective for most any rose: layering.

Well, its a kind of layering. I take any cane of a rose that can be bent to reach the soil surface (plants in pots or in the ground, either works) and bury a section of the cane under the soil, leaving a few inches of the growing tip exposed. I do not injure the cane in any way, nor do I use rooting hormones of any kind. In fact, the whole procedure is a rather lazy one; I just grab a cane when I happen to be near a plant I want to propagate, paddle out a bit of a hole in the soil surface and shove the cane in and pat it down. Nothing could be easier. In most cases, I found that these cane were rooted enough to remove the shoot and pot it up in four to six weeks.

Shown here is a shoot of the Spinosissima 'Suzanne', five weeks after pushing the cane into the soil. In the top photo, note the red arrow in the photo which is pointing at the original cane that was pushed under the surface, at just about the point that it enters the soil. Click on any of the photos to view a larger image.

You can see that it has not only produced a significant root system of its own, it has pushed up new shoots from below the soil surface to start forming a brand new mini-thicket of its own. The shoot was cut from its parent cane and potted up in a gallon can, as you can see here. It did not suffer any transplant shock at all (bear in mind I dug it on a cool, cloudy day) and appears ready to make a go of it. What could be easier?!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Moore's "Orange Moss", aka "OM".

Just a quick note this morning before I get busy with chores.

I've grown Ralph Moore's "Orange Moss" ('Mark Sullivan' X 'Golden Moss') for quite a few years and I have come to love it for the many things it is, and lament it for the many things it is not. It is a remarkable leap forward in the breeding of the modern moss roses, something Ralph pioneered in the fifties. It is also deeply flawed, with its awkward, sprawling growth habit, sparse blooming habit, and insistence on producing an expert crop of mildewed growth from August onwards. And yet, when it does flower, the buds with their rich orange hues splashed with a smoldering red are remarkable. The open blooms are pure joy; glowing pure color and striking anthers beautifully displayed, plus it bears the richest fragrance, reminiscent of Orange Tang drink mix from my childhood!

Ralph told me personally, and documented it in writing also, that Orange Moss, while enthusiastically fertile as a pollen parent, did not set seeds. Perhaps it is a climate difference, but one of my greenhouse-kept specimens of it produced three hips in 2009. I did indeed save them and prepared the seeds along with all the rest of the 2009 crop, sowing them in March of this year. Three seedlings resulted, one of which you see here.

Two of the three were dreadfully mildewy creatures, barely holding on to life all Summer. One appears to be declining, while the second is holding on, even while consumed by Mildew. The third one, as you can see, is clean as can be, with deep green glossy foliage. I am potting this one up into a gallon can this AM, and with any luck I will see a flower next Spring. I hope that it might contain the genes for both mossing and the rich coloring of its parent. Remontancy is unlikely, I'm guessing, but who knows.

Doesn't that foliage just scream "I'm a goer!"?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Now that's the kind of thing I like to see.

The seedling pictured here is one selection from a group of about twenty of this cross, germinated in March 2010. What isn't immediately apparent from the photo is the size of the plant; the container it is in is a five gallon "egg can" style nursery pot, with a lip diameter of about 14". The seedling itself is over 2.5 feet tall and has branched numerous times from the base. Already it is building an attractive architecture and displays a full compliment of foliage that persists to the base. Most of its siblings are also showing signs of vigor, health and attractive architecture.

79-02-PFC X 'Therese Bugnet'. The seed parent is R. foliolosa X 'Little Chief' and strongly resembles 'Basye's Purple'. See: 79-02-PFC

This is the kind of thing I like to see in my work nowadays, and this is much more the direction my work is taking; a lot of native species involvement and heavy use of plants like 'Therese Bugnet'. (which I am beginning to regard as a superb shrub. Now all we need is to improve in the rate of rebloom) No, I haven't seen bloom on any of these hybrids yet, but I didn't expect to till 2011 anyway. Many of these near-species crosses take at least a full year to start blooming anyway.

I also have a group of about 20 selections of R. foliolosa X 'Therese Bugnet' that are very similar in habit, but with even greater vigor, and in general, larger spaces between internodes. The R. foliolosa X 'Therese Bugnet' seedlings are also very sparingly thorned, some nearly thornless, in fact. I am looking forward to seeing first bloom on these in the Spring!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Disease resistance survey

Since 2007 I have pretty much quit applying fungicide sprays to my collection to prevent disease.* I have gathered data about the results with emphasis on identifying cultivars that prospered with little or no Blackspot infection. (I regard Blackspot as the single most destructive of the three major fungal diseases, as it has the ability to significantly weaken the plant, rendering it much more susceptible to freeze damage during Winter dormancy.)

I recognize, and wish to emphasize, that any list of highly disease resistant varieties compiled by one person in a specific region may be meaningful only to that particular site and/or geographic region. A cultivar that performed outstandingly in my garden may be a disaster in the South or the East, and vice versa. Keeping that in mind, the first group is a list of roses that I designate "Little or no infection". This group includes anything that kept at least 90% of its foliage even if it did suffer some Blackspot infection. Some cultivars had an infection rate of zero and these are marked with a +

William Baffin+
Lady Hillingdon
Indian Love Call
Duchesse de Rohan
Cecile Brunner+
Marie Pavie
Clothilde Soupert
Pinkie, Cl.
Crested Damask
My Stars+
Basye's Blueberry+
Rosy Purple+
The Yeoman
Red Radiance
Blush Noisette+
Maria Leonidas+
James Mason+
Marie vanHoutte
Lilian Austin
The Green Rose (R. chinensis viridiflora)
Soupert et Notting
Tiffany+ (now there's a surprise!)
New Dawn
Mme. de LaRoche-Lambert
Konigin von Danemark
Great Maiden's Blush (some years it gets some infection and as such, would be placed in the second category.)
Tour de Malakof+
Ville de Bruxelles
William III+
Ellen Tofflemire+
Souvenir de Claudius Denoyel
Darlow's Enigma+
Wedding Cake (some years it fits in category 2 rather than here)
Pompon de Bourgogne+
William Shakespeare 2000 (NOT the original William Shakespeare, which has very poor disease resistance)
Capitaine John Ingram+
Mrs. B. R. Cant
Precious Dream+
Little Mermaid+
Golden Wings (some years it fits in category 2 rather than here)
Star Magic+
Alberic Barbier+
Vineyard Song (some years this gets a + for complete immunity to Blackspot, 2010 included)
Basye's Purple
Dorothy Perkins+ (although, as most are aware, it Mildews quite readily from Mid-Summer on)
Errinerung an Brod (some years it fits in category 2 rather than here)
Blanc de Vibert (a very poor plant in most other ways, however)
Buff Beauty
American Pillar+
Joyce Barden
Mary Rose
R. centifolia cristata
Belle Amour+
Hebe's Lip+
Mutabilis (some years it fits in category 2 rather than here)
Yellow Lady Banks (although none of the Banksieas are reliably Winter hardy here and have been removed from the collection)
R. soulieana

Plus all of the Gallicas, with the exception of those that show conspicuous China or Hybrid Perpetual influence: these get some disease, often Mildew as well.

I include all of the North American species I grow as well. My R. clinophylla, two plants seed grown, from India, both suffer some Blackspot infection, although minimal.

List 2: Varieties that kept at least 75% of their foliage in spite of infection, and which outgrew disease quickly, with little impact on overall plant health.

Jeri Jennings
Distant Drums
Barbara Oliva
Incantation (some years it fits in category 1 rather than here)
Jayne Austin
Robert Leopold
Dick Koster
Reine des Violettes
Alice Hamilton
Rose de Rescht
R. damascena bifera
Charles Lawson
Souvenir de la Malmaison (although often plagued by terrible Mildew)
Sally Holmes
Mrs. William Paul
Constance Spry
Mme. Caroline Testout (some years it belongs in the 90% clean category)
Chianti (some years it doesn't belong in either group, as it does occasionally defoliate almost completely)
Variegata di Bologna (sometimes it doesn't fare well enough to be on this list)
Marechal Niel
Yolande de Aragon (some years yes, some years no)
Portland from Glendora
Sharifa Asma
Ghislaine de Felighonde
"Champagne Arches"
Marchionesse of Londonderry
Pie IX
Closer to Heaven
Belle Poitvine (and all of the "purebred" Rugosas)
Out of Yesteryear
Fakir's Delight
Linda Campbell
Sutter's Gold (some years not so good)
Golden Ophelia
Dragon's Blood
Violet Hood
Reveil Dijonnais
European Touch
Cuthbert Grant (This season it is one of the 90% and up varieties)
Carlin's Rhythm
Soeur Therese
Hot Cocoa
Fa's Marbled Moss
Savoy Hotel
Marchesa Bocella
Mme. Alfred Carriere
Paul Ricault

The third list I have compiled is one assessing the many Miniatures I have in my archive, the vast majority of which are Ralph Moore hybrids. The following group indicates those which maintained at least 85% of their foliage at all times, whether infected with Blackspot or not. Some cultivars were totally immune to Blackspot in my garden and are marked with a +

Sweet Fairy +
Golden Century (near 100% immunity some years)
Blue Mist +
Hall of Flowers
Nurse Donna
Ora Kelly
Red Cascade
Red Wand, climber +
Tom Thumb
Magic Carousel
Cinderella (near 100% clean)
Magic Dragon
Apricot Twist + (reliably immune to all disease in all years tested)
Cal Poly +
My Valentine
Rose Gilardi (near 100% immunity some seasons)
Glowing Amber
Magic Wand +
Sweet Chariot
Popcorn +
Little Meagan
Sequoia Gold
Red Alert
Red Germain
Little Buckaroo
Stacey Sue
Star Dust
Splish Splash
Unconditional Love (near 100% clean some years)

I'm sure I have missed a few plants in compiling this list, which is easy to do when surveying a collection of over 2500 varieties. I'll remind readers that this list in no way in meant to indicate that all of these roses will perform similarly in all climates and in all sites/soil conditions. I know for a fact that some of the historic (OGR) varieties I list as highly disease free fare quite poorly in other regions. Still, it should at least provide some insight as to general health of the varieties listed.

*One exception to this is the Ralph Moore collection, which is one of only two or three complete collections of commercially released Moore roses to be seen anywhere. As the curator of such a collection I feel the need to continue spraying these to keep them in good health, as I have only one specimen each of the majority of these.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

281-91-04: Ralph Moore's legacy of stripes.

One of the most important contributions Ralph Moore made to modern roses is striping. Before Ralph took on the task, there were really no striped roses of note aside from a few OGRs that displayed the characteristic. 'Ferdinand Pichard' (bred by Tanne, France, 1921) was about the most modern striped rose available to growers, and it was in fact 'Ferdinand Pichard' that Ralph turned to in order to mine its genetic secrets for striping. Moore's first successful cross used the Floribunda 'Little Darling' as the seed parent, as it so often turned out to be the rose that would repeatedly serve as a "door opener" for Moore, paving a way forward where other roses failed to deliver. (Note that by today's standards, 'Little Darling' is an imperfect rose with many flaws, and has largely been abandoned as a breeder. However, at the time Ralph was working with it, it offered unique opportunities: fertility, pliability and the ability to breed fertile offspring even when crossed with the most difficult cultivars.)

The seedling pictured above, a cross of 'Anytime' X 'Shadow Dancer', was gifted to me about 6 years ago by Ralph personally, as he was considering it as a commercial introduction and was seeking more feedback about its performance. (In Visalia, apparently, it grows as a climber, but here in my climate it has not exceeded four feet.) You can see the 'Anytime' coloring it its blooms, right down to the curious lavender cast often seen in the center of the aging blooms. It is generous with blooms and often flowers in clusters of 7 or more, making for quite a display. It has no fragrance (not surprising, considering its pedigree) but has decent foliage health and good vigor.

Unfortunately this seedling never did make it into commerce while Ralph was alive, but with Texas A&M now managing the vast Moore collection of un-introduced seedlings, it might yet have its day in commerce. For now, I will experiment with it as a breeding plant. My first tests indicate that it is quite willing to pass on those striking 'Ferdinand Pichard' stripes that Ralph worked so hard to distill.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mary's River Park practice burn.

This is my favorite select from yesterday's shoot of the field burn the Fire Dept. did in the Western field.
Whoops! Totally posted this in the wrong blog, but what the heck. ;-)

141-09-02: un-named diploid X 'Home Run'

141-09-02: un-named diploid Polyantha X 'Home Run'.

The rose used as a seed parent in this instance is a diploid Polyantha developed by David Zlesak and shared with me for breeding purposes. I don't have any record of its exact parentage, so I best not quote what I remember in case I'm wrong! The Zlesak Poly is a cluster flowering dwarf plant halfway between a Polyantha and a modern miniature in style, with clusters of 2" double, cupped crimson blooms bearing a pale, near-white reverse. To my nose, it offers a very respectable "fresh" scent. It is a very attractive little shrub and I hope David might consider it as a legitimate garden shrub of commercial value.

I used the "Z Poly" last year in conjunction with a number of other diploids with the goal of maintaining a strongly pigmented diploid line. I also included Carruth's 'Home Run' in the list of pollen parents, as it is a triploid and will presumably give both haploid and diploid pollen grains, and so this cross, 141-09, should include a mix of diploid and triploid offspring.

Many of the 141-09's were very good in terms of color, vigor and foliage. I selected about 15 seedlings for evaluation. Most are in shades of deep red or crimson, and most are singles or nearly single. All appear to be cluster blooming and many seem to have inherited much of the growth habit of 'Home Run', which I'm not altogether pleased with. (I find 'Home Run' to be a rather homely shrub as regards its architecture)

Next year the best of the 141-09's will go outside into the open garden to establish for disease resistance evaluation. This is a high priority matter with this group of seedlings, as I am determined to develop my own line of shrubs that carries near 100% immunity to "the big three" fungal diseases. We can hope, anyway.....

Friday, September 3, 2010

Little Treasures

Every once in a while you get a pleasant surprise exactly when you don't expect it. Last year, in an effort to concentrate more on developing a diploid breeding line with disease resistance, I collected a number of open pollinated seeds from 'Magic Wand' one of the well documented Moore breeders. It is one of the first generation of "Zee" hybrids; a "climbing" shrub with very small foliage and large panicles of tiny, deep pink blooms. Although 'Magic Wand' is a tall growing cultivar, it frequently breeds very dwarf offspring, regardless of the stature of the other parent. For me, it has potential value as a breeder because it is virtually indestructible in my climate, thriving with minimal care and resisting all three of the major fungal diseases without chemical assistance.

And so, I grew a population of open pollinated seed to see what traits it had to offer. Mostly, I expected to see a range of characteristics, both dominants and recessives, but I didn't expect to keep any of the seedlings. The one pictured here was most noteworthy, with its well-formed blooms, spotless foliage, dense, bushy growth habit and balanced scale of all plant parts (tiny). It didn't hurt that the blooms are remarkably sweet-scented for such tiny flowers. (Blooms do not exceed 0.5" in diameter) So, I'm keeping this feller. I've struck a few cuttings already and it roots in a matter of days (+- 8 days), which is even better.

Funny, isn't it, how these little gifts turn up in a body of work in the places you don't expect them. The surprise factor is probably what I enjoy most about the work I do. I imagine a lot of hybridizers feel the same way. :-) Oh, and one more thing: I have given it a nickname for now; a reference to a rose it resembles: 'Si', by Pedro Dot. I'm calling it "Si Plus Plus". I wonder how many people will get that pun?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

"R. souliolosa": 87-09-01

I put that name in double quotes because its not a species, but a hybrid between two species: R. soulieana and R. foliolosa. The idea here is to create something entirely new and distinct, using two diploid species with excellent hardiness and vigor. With luck, these seedlings will not suffer from the typical fungal disease either; the elimination of disease is a major goal for me now. Not disease tolerance, something the plants can live with and still survive, but something closer to true immunity. I have spent the Summer digging out and discarding numerous "collectible" Hybrid Teas and Shrubs that simply will not thrive without chemical intervention. My patience has run out: I don't want to grow any more "life support roses". (Today, 'Dame Edith Helen's head is on the chopping block. It is likely that 'Papageno' is next: off with their heads!)

The seedling's foliage is fragrant when touched, giving off a combined scent of Frankincense and Raspberries! It is pretty clear that this one is going to be vigorous and a semi-climbing plant, whereas its sibling more closely resembles its R. foliolosa parent, remaining more shrubby. No flowers yet, but then I don't expect to see any till next Spring. There is always the possibility that this cross (I have two seedlings, this is just one) will not have fertility to breed another generation, but I have a hunch it will be. I have another hybrid that is a diploid breeder (42-03-02) out of Moore's 0-47-19 (R. wichurana X 'Floradora'), crossed with an R. rugosa hybrid, which will have the ability to pass on remontancy while remaining a diploid. I'm trying to avoid getting into triploid territory for now, just to make things easier to deal with.

I will post photos of the 42-03-02 X R. rugosa seedling soon. It shows considerable Rugosa influence in its foliage.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

53-08-09 revisited.

I should be writing something substantial, meaningful, educational, but today I'm not in that frame of mind. However, I will share with you today's new photo of my current favorite seedling: 53-08-09 ('Midnight Blue' X L83).

Click on the image for a much larger view.

This is a Kordesii hybrid and as such, it may exhibit both superior Winter hardiness and disease resistance. It's still very young, and only recently transitioned out into the garden, so these aspects of its nature are yet to be determined. In the meantime, I am going to admire its wonderful color (no photo I take does its hue justice: it is a much richer, more vibrant purple/magenta than it appears here) I have learned that it is remarkably easy to propagate as well, something many modern roses sorely lack.

Friday, August 13, 2010

118-09-14: from R. pisocarpa

In June of 2009 I selected one of the local plants of R. pisocarpa to act as a pollen parent in a few crosses. R. pisocarpa is supposedly a diploid (14 chromosomes) which made it more attractive as a mate to some of my other diploid hybrids. This particular clone was a particularly dark pink form, with a compact habit. This pollen served as the male parent of the seedling shown here.

The seed parent, 42-03-02, is a selfing of Ralph Moore's Wichurana breeder 0-47-19, presumably also a diploid. I have used this plant in breeding a few times in years past with mixed results, but I was most often crossing it with tetraploids. Now I limit myself to pairing it with other diploids. (I have seedlings from it using 'Therese Bugnet' as a pollen parent, to name just one)

So, what is remarkable about this seedling? The fact that it is a repeat bloomer, flowering in its first year. Normally you would not obtain any repeat bloomers from a first generation cross with a native species, but it appears this R. pisocarpa has some secrets up its sleeve! Whether the plant has any merit as a garden shrub or as a stepping stone to better hybrids is yet to be determined, but this seedling makes me hopeful.

Click on thumbnails for a larger image.

118-09-14 is still a fairly small plant in a gallon can, with canes no more than 14" long. The foliage, architecture and overall "feel" is intermediate between the two parents, but leaning a bit more towards R. pisocarpa in my opinion. The foliage has been very clean so far, but I reserve judgment until it has lived out in the test garden for a while. (With R. wichurana strongly represented in its pedigree, plus 1/2 R. pisocarpa, I'm hoping for good disease resistance) The blooms have a fairly strong powdery scent, not unlike 'Marie Pavie'.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

99-08-01: Scarlet Moss X William Baffin

Having used both 'William Baffin' and 'Scarlet Moss' for several years in breeding, I have recognized that both have the ability to sire offspring with superior Blackspot (and Mildew) resistance. It was only a matter of time, I suppose, that the two should meet. This is one of three seedlings I have saved from this 2008 cross, and it is by far the better one. (the other two, although have promise as plants, are rather dull, deep pinks)

This shrub is an arching, large plant that appears to have much of 'William Baffin's habit, but possibly more lax. It isn't mature enough to know for sure how it will grow, but the clues are there. It is quite thorny, although the thorns are bent at the tips and not at all inclined to rip flesh, as some do. Blooms are 3" across, in clusters of five or more, about ten petals each and a clean, medium red as you can see. It is also obvious that the buds are decently mossy, a trait I expected to lose in this cross!

Now the thing is to determine how good its Blackspot resistance is. Its the first Summer out in the garden, so until it has seen a Spring, its premature to say anything about disease resistance. (Although it has been remarkably Mildew free so far, unlike most Mosses grown here)

If nothing else, this will find its way into the 2011 breeding schedule, to see what traits it passes along. It has set open pollinated seed freely and those will be germinated next Spring to evaluate the plant's potential.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Fedtschenkoana hybrids: 20-09

20-09: L83 X (Orangeade X R. fedtschenkoana)

I was genuinely surprised to see these seeds germinate this Spring, and even as they grew I expected them to turn out to be selfs of L83. Now that they are a couple months old, its quite clear these are R. fedtschenkoana hybrids, with the matte bluish foliage that smells of Pine when rubbed. All three of these are remarkably intermediate in look between their parents. I can see distinct L83 qualities, and clear R. fedtschenkoana traits in all three. Of course, none of these has bloomed yet and I don't expect to see flowers until next Spring, but in terms of their pedigree, these represent potentially remarkable hybrids, unlike anything else before them.

Its curious how, after 15 years of hybridizing, I am now paying so very little attention to the flower style and color, favoring instead the development of unique and sturdier shrubs with better hardiness than their predecessors. (Click on the thumbnails for a full-sized image)

Shown here are a few images of all three plants, their overall appearance, foliage and thorns.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


54-08-08 = 'Midnight Blue' X ('Orangeade' X R. fedtschenkoana) The pollen parent is a white semi-double rose bred by Kim Rupert, who generously donated a plant to my collection several years ago.

This is a mightily vigorous seedling, having produced new basal growths recently that have grown from zero to three feet in only three weeks. I am pleased to note two things: 1) this plant has set seed easily using a variety of pollen parents, and 2) it is repeating bloom in flushes, where in its first year it did not bloom at all. One of its siblings has proven extremely easy to propagate and I will be testing this cultivar for ease of propagation soon as well. I think this has promise as a potential link to new kinds of shrubs for the modern, low-maintenance garden.

Westerland X Marianne

This is the first time I have managed to collect enough pollen from my hybrid Gallica 'Marianne' to use for breeding. I am very excited to discover that, on 'Westerland' at least, the pollen is quite fertile. Hooray!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Golden Glow X Morden Sunrise

Two years ago I gave up on Golden Glow as a breeder; it kept giving me whites and pinks and the occasional sickly pale yellow. I'm 2009 I acquired Morden Sunrise for breeding and decided to make one last try with Golden Glow, and mated these two. The seedling pictured here (43-09-02) is one of three that I kept. The other two are medium yellows. Although these seedlings may not offer anything in terms of Blackspot resistance, they may have superior Winter hardiness in cold climates.

It is interesting to note that all of the remontant seedlings obtained from various Morden Sunrise crosses have that unusual Cinnamon/musk fragrance!

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Two years ago I was in conversation with David Zlesak and lamenting the fact that Ralph Moore's famous 0-47-19, although a good breeder for many purposes, tended to produce a vast majority of pink or white seedlings. (Out of the small percentage of repeat bloomers it bred: more than 2/3 are once blooming) David suggested that I try his Polyantha shrub 'Candy Oh Vivid Red' on 0-47-19, as he felt that it could impart better color. As a bonus, it was a confirmed diploid (as was 0-47-19) and so I could establish a remontant diploid line out of R. wichurana, hopefully in red. Well, clever fellow that he is, David's hunch was right; 66-09 has indeed produced a handful of good rich red seedlings. The selection displayed here is one of about 5 that have very rich coloring. All selections so far have been 5 petaled, which isn't surprising considering the parentage. All have glossy Wichurana style foliage and most have a distinct Musk scent. (No sweet component whatsoever)

At this point I am visualizing these selections as breeding specimens only, but who knows. Perhaps one or two of these will mature to have excellent garden-worthiness properties, in which case they may become candidates for release. I;ll post photos of some of the siblings as they mature.

This cross was made with the goals of creating a breeding stock plant that was 1) a diploid, 2) well pigmented in the red range, 3) exhibited many of the R. wichurana traits such as disease resistance, attractive foliage, abundance of bloom and ease of propagation. With any luck, some or all of these criteria will be found in this seedling, or one of its siblings.

I cannot comment on the mature growth habit of the shrub. That is to be determined in the next 24 months. I list this as a diploid seedling since both parents are confirmed diploids. It is unlikely that it is anything but a diploid.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Rosa soulieana

What a rose this is. I can't think why more people don't use this diploid in breeding. I'm putting Belle Poitvine pollen on it this morning :-)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Praise for one of my favorite roses.

I am so pleased when I read reports like this. 'Marianne' is one of my all time favorite once blooming roses, and I say that not because it came from my efforts as a breeder, but because it is truly such a fine rose and offers so much. This year, for the first time, I have found and collected sufficient anthers from my two mother plants to be able to pollinate a good fifty or sixty blooms on a few roses. I have no idea whether or not the pollinations will result in seed production, its too soon to tell. If I can obtain a rose as fine as 'Marianne' but with remontancy, I will be very pleased indeed.

'Marianne' = 'Duchesse de Montebello' X 'Abraham Darby'. Registered 2001. Available from Rogue Valley Roses.

Friday, June 11, 2010


By growing a population of self pollinated seedlings from a
prospective breeder, you discover that it has some serious genetic
flaws that disqualify it as a breeder. This would be one of those
times :-/

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

77-07-12: update.

I have been so busy trying to keep up with the hundreds of tasks that all have to be done in May and June and regrettably, blog posts often get dropped from my "to do" list. Tonight, however, I will make an effort.

This is one of about six selections I have now culled down to from the cross made in 2007 of ('Penny Ante' X 'Tradescant') X L83. The seed parent is a proprietary hybrid of mine that I often use for breeding to get both good color and vigor into my work. It turns out to have been an excellent choice with which to mate L83, the AgCan Kordesii breeder.

Seedling #77-07-12 is my favorite of this group, with its heavy, dark glossy foliage and the 4" double red and purple blooms, reminiscent of a slightly less double 'Charles de Mills'. It has a modest "modern rose" fragrance that is neither strong nor remarkable, but pleasant just the same. The foliage has so far been completely immune to Blackspot, whereas other seedlings immediately next to it have lost 80% or more of their foliage to the disease. While I am considering this as a "finished" variety (IE: headed for market) I am also working on proceeding with it as a breeder, crossing it with its siblings and one of the yellow L83 hybrids, the idea being to improve further on the excellent disease resistance of these L83 seedlings.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Westerland shows promise as a breeder.

I'm beginning to wonder why Kordes' 'Westerland' hasn't been used much in breeding. I can say that my own experience demonstrates that it makes some very decent offspring, so maybe its just a style thing? It appears to be inclined to make large, climber-ish shrubs, and for the most part, large roses are not currently in vogue, so maybe that is part of it.

Anyway, lets look at this example. This is 'Westerland' X 'A Shropshire Lad', the latter being one of the more recent Austin roses, which, like 'Westerland' is a large shrub that can be trained as a "climber". (I put that in double quotes because, like so many similar modern shrubs of a certain stature, this rose is often referred to as a "climber" when in fact it is nothing at all like the true climbers: the Ramblers, Hybrid Multifloras and others bred from true climbing species. Of course, it can be argued that no rose is a climber in the true sense, as they have no tendrils or tools to grasp with. They are simply "opportunistic climbers", relying on chance that their prickles will latch onto something supporting as they grow towards the light.)

I saved this seedling at the last moment, only because it had such excellent foliage and a glimmer of pleasant color. I almost culled it because in the first two seasons the blooms were less full than I would have liked. This Spring, however, the blooms are reasonably full and quite attractive. (Certainly more petals than previously) It is showing excellent vigor as well, and appears to have excellent resistance to disease (so far). The fully expanded bloom shown here is about 4" in diameter. Larger canes are blooming in clusters of three to five, while laterals often have only one or two. Half open buds are yellow brushed heavily with flame, expanding to more of a "Peace yellow" with splashes of pink and red at the petal edges. Yes, it has a pleasant scent, though not intense. I'll be watching this one more closely now, I think ;-)

So, in case you were considering using 'Westerland' as a breeder, I would say yes, go ahead and see what it can do for you. It might not do exactly what you want, but I believe it is worth exploring.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

74-07-01: Tuscany Superb X R. arkansana

I made this cross in '07 with the idea of working the lovely native R. arkansana into my work, without resorting to using modern China-derivatives in order to preserve tetraploidy. And so, I turned to an old favorite: 'Tuscany Superb'. (FYI the Gallicanae are almost all tetraploids by nature) I am particularly interested in R. arkansana because of its exceptional Winter hardiness, its complete immunity to disease and the fact that my specimen (seed grown in 1999) blooms at least three times a growing season, with long rests between flushes. Could this be a remontancy trait that can be incorporated into new species derivatives? We'll see.

I obtained only four seedlings from this cross and unfortunately, all have been *ahem* a tad weak in the vigor department. Mind you, that isn't going to prevent me from using this selection in breeding. I can always abandon this avenue should the offspring turn out to be wusses: nothing ventured, etc, etc. It does, however, have a rich and complex "wild rose" fragrance that can undoubtedly be capitalized upon. I'd be interested in crossing this with 'Therese Bugnet' except that TB is a diploid, so I'll leave that out of the equation for now. I may, however, turn to the Hybrid Spinosissima 'Suzanne', which has been reported as being a tetraploid. For now, recovering remontancy without sacrificing disease immunity is paramount; color, my friends, will have to wait ;-)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

04-07-05: making progress with L83

In 2007, thanks to David Zlesak, I began working with the AgCan Kordesii breeding variety L83. My main interest in working with L83 was to improve Blackspot resistance in my work, but there was a likelihood that improvements in Winter hardiness might be had as well.

From the 2007 crosses I made, two groups stand out as having at least two or three selections that show both extremely good Blackspot resistance (near immunity) and apparent Winter hardiness (based on my limited experience). It should also be noted that several selections have good to excellent color and attractive bloom form. All have excellent vigor and attractive foliage. About 5 plants have been kept from the cross of ('Penny Ante' X 'Tradescant') X L83, including the fire engine red 77-07-23, which was used to a limited degree in 2009 breeding.

Illustrated here is the best yellow selection from 'Golden Angel' X L83, numbered 04-07-05. Some of you have probably noted that this is a cross of a triploid X a tetraploid, and so it is possible that the 04-07 selections are a mix of triploids and tetraploids. Some of these set open pollinated seeds last year (which I allowed to happen in order to determine fertility) and seeds were saved and a percentage have germinated. I am now starting to put select pollens on this yellow cultivar with the hope of moving forward with a Kordesii derived yellow breeding line. There is certainly a lot of room for improvements in both Winter hardiness and disease resistance in yellows! For now, I am limiting myself to using other first generation L83 hybrids to breed with this selection, and in fact will be crossing most of my best L83 selections with each other this year. Most are strong reds and medium yellows, so color results should be bright and rich with any luck.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Second of the 'Magic Wand' OP seedlings to bloom

This is a rather remarkably complex flower for something so tiny!

Followup on post from three days ago.

Here is that same 'Magic Wand' open pollinated seedling, its first bloom open. Yes, that is a penny. ;-)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

How tiny does tiny get??

It is a fairly well documented fact (R. S. Moore and others) that the miniaturism trait is a dominant one, and you need only one of the parents to be a miniature in order to obtain a good percentage of dwarf plants from a cross. Well, what happens if you cross miniature X miniature? Often, the offspring get smaller still! If you have ever done a cross like that, you will have no difficulty imagining how Pedro Dot came up with 'Si'.

Illustrated here is one of the first seedlings to bloom from a crop of 'Magic Wand' X self seeds. Out of about 80 seedlings I have grown, I would say that about 90% are dwarf, with about 25% of these being extremely dwarf. About eight or ten seedlings appear to be much larger in both leaf and growth habit than the parent variety, which is also to be expected with such crosses.

To give you an idea of scale (yes, I ought to have photographed it with a coin beside it) the pot shown here is 2.75" square. The plant is currently no more than 1.5" tall, and I would estimate that bud is no more than 1/8th of an inch tall (center of the plant, pale pink): the ultimate in cute. Click on the photo to get a much larger image.

I didn't grow this group of seedlings with the idea of actually keeping any of the offspring, I did it to show me the scope of what 'Magic Wand' would do as a parent. If it harbors extremely undesirable traits, they will show up in a selfing batch. Desirable traits as well, will manifest in the seedlings, and so this is a learning excercise more than anything. I often sow self-seedlings from a variety before I put it into actual use as a breeder, just to determine its fertility and other traits. Mind you, I am pretty certain that I will save a few of the best of these tiny things and keep them around as curiosities. ;-) I'll post photos of some of the others as they flower, assuming they are the least bit photogenic!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

53-08-09: 'Midnight Blue' X L83

This is the first of a group of 'Midnight Blue' X L83 seedlings to flower, last year's crop of seedlings. L83 seedlings rarely flower in their first year, undoubtedly a trait carried over from its R. rugosa ancestry. This is a particularly richly colored flower and I am picturing a 4 X 4 foot shrub at maturity, loaded with hundreds of these intense magenta-purple flowers. If it repeats decently, this just might be worth space as a garden shrub! (as opposed to being used strictly for breeding, which is how I see it at the moment)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Mel's Heritage at The San Jose Heritage Garden

Lars met up with Jill Perry, the SJHRG's director, who made sure to
show off a specimen of my Wichurana Rambler 'Mel's Heritage'. It is
often referred to as a repeating Cecile Brunner. (Photo by Lars)

Monday, April 26, 2010

54-08-01, another R. fedtschenkoana seedling opens a bloom.

Yesterday I posted a photo of the first bloom of one of my 54-08 hybrids (Midnight Blue X [Orangeade X R. fedtschenkoana]). Today, two more opened their first blooms, and one of these, 54-08-01, is pretty spectacular: deep fuchsia/purple blooms about 2" across, with 15 petals and a modest fragrance. The plant is nearly identical to all of its siblings in most ways, showing heavy influence of R. fedtschenkoana: small, fern-like cedar-scented foliage, upright growth and plenty of needle-like prickles. There is a tiny bit more info available on the HMF page for this seedling.

I have gathered the pollen from the two blooms shown here and hope to use it tomorrow. I have to ruminate a bit to select an appropriate parent from what is in bloom right now. Perhaps 'Little Darling'??! (just kidding!)