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.

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)