Saturday, February 27, 2010

Pursuing better foliage: the Canadian Explorers

In the past few years I have discovered that both good reds and glossy, Blackspot resistant foliage can be had when using 'Scarlet Moss' in breeding. The seedling shown here is 'Scarlet Moss' X 'William Baffin' from last year's seedlings. Working with 'William Baffin' is a bit more of a waiting game than usual, as its seedlings often don't start to flower until year two. (L83 seedlings behave this way also, which is not really much of a coincidence since the Explorers come from similar genetic backgrounds: heavy R. rugosa influence) I have loads of seedlings from last season that I hope to see flower for the first time in the next couple of months.

I am hoping that a few of the 'William Baffin' seedlings show excellent disease resistance, strong red coloring and very good Winter hardiness. This particular cross "feels right" to me, bringing together one of the best of the Explorers and one of the best Moore roses with heavy 'Dortmund' influence. Photos of the blooms will follow, when it happens.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hardwood cuttings of roses.

Back in early January I decided to try my friend Simon Voorwinde's technique for rooting hardwood cuttings of roses. This technique could prove useful for cultivars that might otherwise be difficult to propagate by softwood methods. This is Simon's technique:

"All you do is make all your cuttings somewhere around 15-20cm long (I cut the base with a sloping cut behind a bud), remove all their leaves as they harbor lots of fungi etc (you could dip them in some kind of fungicide but I don't tend to bother), bundle them up and wrap them in newspaper, put a rubber band around the top and bottom to keep the whole thing together. Run the newspaper under a tap to moisten it, allow all excess to drip off, then seal it all in a plastic bag and forget it for a while. Some will begin callousing after only a week.

When they've started callousing pot them on as you would normal rooted cuttings and keeping them humid until leaves and roots begin to appear. I have a few large clear tubs (about 140 litrres so nearly about 70cm long by 50cm wide and about 40cm tall) that I put a 10cm layer of moist perlite and peat in that I plant the calloused cuttings straight into, put the clear lid on it, put it outside in a shaded position (as the sun will cook them quickly) and they are ready to begin hardening off in just a few more weeks. With my multiflora cuttings I do this except instead of planting them in the tub I stick them straight in the ground after pre-callousing them and they are away in about a week and I tend to do about 50 at a time. I do this at all times of the year and it occurs faster in the warmer months than the cold."

The photo illustrates my results with one of the Kim Rupert Gallica hybrids I use in breeding. Cuttings were taken from a fully dormant plant and placed on top of my fridge for about 6 weeks. As you can see these calloused easily and have roots well formed, ready to pot up. I would suggest experimenting to find the ideal stage for potting these up; some varieties might work best if potted before roots formed and others might fare better with roots well on their way.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

New foliage and the promise of Spring.

At this time of year, few things bring me such intense pleasure as the unfolding of the first new leaves in the greenhouses. (Well, the first Hyacinths in bloom qualify as well) I love the coloring of everything in this photo; soft colors and subtle contrasts.

Here we have new foliage on my mature specimen of a Dwarf China sent to me years ago by Sheri Berglund who had collected it as a mystery rose from a California cemetery. It is almost identical in habit to 'Oakington Ruby', another dwarf China from the late 1800's (we think) but with medium Carnation pink blooms. If it weren't for the bloom color these two varieties would be virtually indistinguishable. I wonder if one might be a sport or seedling of the other. We'll likely never know.

For now, I'm happy just to watch the leaves unfold with their bluish matte surfaces and the reddish tips and petioles. There are a few buds well on their way also, making this a contender for First Rose Of The Spring.

Happy, happy, joy, joy.

To celebrate a sunny day: 1-72-1 by Ralph Moore.

Breeding: Ralph S. Moore, 1972. Sister seedling to 'Rise 'N' Shine'. Parentage: 'Little Darling' X 'Yellow Jewel'.

Today I am celebrating another sunny, warm(ish) day on the farm by presenting one of Ralph Moore's most important yellow breeding plants, 1-72-1. This just hapens to be a sister seedling to 'Rise 'N' Shine', Moore's most commercially successful yellow miniature. In many ways 1-72-1 it is very similar to 'Rise 'N' Shine' with one significant exception: this is a larger plant, with a growth habit that has come to be known as "a climbing miniature". (Its not really a climber, but rather a large plant with 4 to 5 foot arching canes)

A little known tidbit about this plant's history is that it was submitted for the AOE trials and was scheduled to be released as a commercial variety if it won an award. Unfortunately it didn't win an AOE, but it played a far more important role in Moore' breeding program. 1-72-1 is the parent of many excellent roses, including 'Cal Poly', 'Golden Gardens', 'Joycie', 'Pink Poodle', 'Sequoia Ruby', 'Twister' and 'Work of Art'. Moore made it known to many of his hybridizer friends that although 'Rise 'N' Shine' has played a role in breeding many excellent roses, 1-72-1 was the better parent. 'Rise 'N' Shine' breeds far too many white and off-white seedlings, whereas 1-72-1 breeds a higher percentage of strong yellows and oranges. Without 1-72-1 we'd have a significantly less rich gene pool in the yellow color group, and its influence can be traced through many generations of modern roses both large and small. Here's to Ralph Moore on this sunny day, and to the lovely golden 1-72-1!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I close my eyes and all I see is seeds and more seeds.

I've been spending several hours a day for two weeks now, cleaning and prepping seeds for sowing. I'm starting to dream about cleaning rose seeds!

I have a self-seedling from the Hybrid Rugosa 'Schneezwerg' that I have occasionally used in breeding. It is a compact shrubby plant that closely resembles R. rugosa alba, but more shapely and restrained in growth. 'Schneezwerg' is supposedly R. rugosa X R. beggeriana. The seeds pictured here are a cross of the 'Schneezwerg' F2 X Ralph Moore's "Magseed", and so R. rugosa is represented on both sides of the equation. The idea here is to generate a Rugosa-like shrub with large blooms in a red hue, hopefully with improved repeat and some fragrance.

As a side note, I sorted several seed lots of various crosses in which 'Schneezwerg' served as the seed parent, and curiously, the seed size varied considerably depending on what the other parent was!

10-05-05: an orange moss.

10-05-05: 'Condoleezza' X ('Sequoia Ruby' X 'Scarlet Moss'). The pollen parent, which is extinct thanks to Gophers, is a sister seedling to 'Unconditional Love', one of my commercial releases.

I view this rose as one of those "close-but-not-quite-finished" seedlings that will hopefully be a stepping stone towards something more to my liking. This is a heavily mossed rose in a very attractive shade of orange with a Chinese red blending, becoming more red as the flower ages. It sets seed easily, although this will be the first year I have had an opportunity to evaluate its offspring. (I'm hopeful that it will bring something good to the line)

The plant is a compact, shrubby thing, having grown to 2.5 feet so far, but since it has lived its life in a pot, it may get significantly larger if grown out in the open garden. Blooms are about 2 to 2.5 inches each, with 8 to 12 petals and a few petaloids. The petals are a strong, clear yellow at the base, which may be an indication of its potential as a breeder of yellows.

While I think the Ralph Moore mosses are marvelous plants, I feel there is a lot of room for improvement on the group. In the pursuit of dwarfism, I think Ralph made compromises when making his selections. Certainly some of the "mini mosses" are wonderful breakthroughs in breeding, but most leave something to be desired as far as plant architecture, disease resistance and stability of color goes. As I say, lots of room for improvement. What would I like to see happen with this group of plants? Well, increase in both the plant stature and in bloom size, for one; I am imagining a rounded shrub of about 4 X 4 feet, well articulated with foliage to within a foot of the soil. (In a similar line of breeding I have accomplished this goal already with 'Treasure Trail', a very attractive pink-yellow blend moss that is about 3.5 feet wide and tall.) I would also like to see a significant improvement in disease resistance, This I believe can come through 'Scarlet Moss', which has the wonderfully sturdy 'Dortmund' represented on both sides of its parentage. Take note Hybridizers: both 'Scarlet Moss' and 'Rose Gilardi' have 'Dortmund genes in them and both are potentially the best breeders to pursue for improvments in the moss genre.

Improvements in color intensity and stability are also very possible and again, 'Scarlet Moss' and 'Rose Gilardi' are likely to be useful in this regard. Although the odds of success are slim, I have made one more attempt in 2009 to use Moore's old breeder "Orange Moss" in combination with seedling 10-05-05 and its sibling 10-05-09, a clear yellow. "Orange Moss" is a poor choice in that it rarely breeds any strong colors, and it has a dreadfully weedy growth habit. (Read; tall and lanky) However, I gave it a go with these two seedlings, hoping the stronger color genes of the 10-05's and their compact growth habit might tame "Orange Moss" and pick up on its lovely coloring. We shall see. Its all just wishful thinking until the first seedling flowers!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Up they come!

The second seed has germinated: 'Golden Angel' X 'Champlain'.

This year I started sowing the seeds very early. First was open pollinated seed from 'Magic Wand' and a week later was this cross, 'Golden Angel' X 'Champlain'. The photo was taken yesterday morning, and by the end of the day two more seedlings were starting to emerge, so undoubtedly many more are on their way.

Regarding this cross: I have found that 'Golden Angel' (yellow miniature from the 1970's, by R. S. Moore) is quite malleable in breeding, often taking on characteristics from the other parent, to the point that none of the 'Golden Angel' traits are visually apparent. Of course, you do get a fair number of miniatures or dwarf plants, since the miniaturism trait is a dominant, but many are shrubs that show no miniaturization whatsoever. With this in mind, I made this cross using the Canadian hardy shrub 'Champlain' as the pollen parent. The hope is to obtain some very Winter hardy orange-red shrubs that bloom frequently and generously, and have attractive, compact plant architecture. It is also known that 'Golden Angel' can sometimes give highly Blackspot resistant offspring, so in combination with 'Champlain' the odds of achieving this might be improved.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Number One

The first seedling has lifted its cotyledon's above the soil line: open pollinated seed from 'Magic Wand' (surely a good omen). It has begun!