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?