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!"?