Sunday, May 31, 2009

Crested Damask

Just a quick post to show off the exquisite buds of my 'Crested Damask', released in limited quantities a few years ago, Breeding is 'Marbree' X 'Crested Jewel'. This has some of the best sepals of all the crested hybrids I know. I haven't tried its pollen on anything yet, perhaps I should?

Click on the image to see the larger image.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Oh man, thats UGLEEE!

Sometimes you get some real "horror shows" in a group of seedlings, and this is one of the finest I have encountered in ages. This is another of the 'Golden Angel' X 'John Davis' seedlings, blooming for the first time. Yes, what petals it does have are greenish, and it is proliferating like mad. (I think I'll nickname this "The Mad Hatter") Ordinarly I'd throw this kind of monstrosity out immediately, but the plant is so healthy and vigorous that its a temptation to keep it as a novelty. Good thing it has no stigmas or stamens, huh? *laughs*

I have R. woodsii pollen to spread around.....gotta run!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

R. nutkana

I love this graceful, hardy species, but I can't think of a great way to use it this year. The last thing I want to do is cross it with some modern HT or Floribunda, because thats not at all the kind of character I want out of it. What would you do if you had 2500 different roses to cross R. nutkana with???

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

They just keep getting better.

The 77-07 group of L83 seedlings continue to flower, and yesterday there was a new crimson seedling that is the best of the lot so far. (Click on photo) Today this bloom has opened to a deep crimson red with purplish splashes on the outer petals, expanding to 4" in diameter. Slight fragrance. Very busy afternoon watering and out pollinating some of the Rugosas, but I wanted to share this photo with you.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The search for yellow through L83, part II

There isn't a lot to say here that wasn't said in the previous post. This is another "orange" seedling obtained from an L83 cross. This time I used 'Golden Angel' as the seed parent. It is surprising how easily influenced by the seed parent these L83 hybrids are. Very few of these have been five petaled blooms (L83 is a five petaled pink) and in fact, most have been quite full. This selection is one of only two from this group that has shown any yellow pigment worth mentioning. It has been potted into a five gallon can for growing on. It will be allowed to open pollinate to determine if it is fertile. The L83 seedlings from '07 are looking very promising. I'll need to get these propagated and tested in some Northern gardens ASAP.

More from L83: 37-07-03

The seedling pictured here comes from a cross of Ralph Moore's yellow breeder 1-72-1 X L83, the AgCan tetraploid Kordesii breeder. The idea here, of course, was to work towards yellow in the Winter hardy, Blackspot resistance line. This is as close as any of this group has come to yellow, and it is peachy pink with a yellow center at best, but I think it represents a step towards better things. As 1-72-1 is a tetraploid yellow miniature climber, the likelihood is that all of this group are tetraploids also, and therefore fertile with any luck. The first thing I will do is allow these seedlings to self and see if seeds result. Then next year, if the open pollinated seeds germinate, I will make some intentional crosses, probably mating this with other peachy seedlings from the same cross. (There is one other so far and many still to bloom) I will undoubtedly mate this with the 'Golden Angel' X 'John Davis seedling mentioned a few days ago.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Results from the L83 crosses: 77-07

At left: 77-07 selections. Click on the photo to see a full sized image.

In 2007 I made a few crosses using the Agriculture Canada breeder L83 by Dr. Felicitas Svejda. It is basically a R. wichurana and R. rugosa selection, multiple generations long. It also happens to be a tetraploid, making it particularly useful in breeding with modern lines. There were three crosses I got large numbers of seedlings from and L83 was the pollen parent in every case. 'Seed parents were: 'Golden Angel', 1-72-1 (Sister seedling to 'Rise 'N' Shine') and a proprietary red Floribunda I use extensively in breeding. Out of at least 70 seedlings of each cross, at least 40 of the two yellow groups were saved and potted into gallons and about 60 seedlings from the red cross were potted on.

77-07, the red group, has been the most fruitful. I would estimate that about 35% of these, a much higher number than expected, have been strong reds and several have been large blooms and very double. In the photo, 77-07-08 shows what some of the more double ones have looked like. Several of these have had fragrance and there was one that was a purple very similar to 'Tuscany'. So far about 20 of the reds have been moved on into 5 gallon containers and will be moved outside to watch their progress. This has been a very exciting group of seedlings and I am eager to continue trying new ideas with L83.

Last Fall, some members of the Rose Hybridizers Association received some of my surplus seedlings from the 77-07 group, so this information will be of particular interest to you. Have any of you seen any of the seedlings flower yet?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Breeding for Winter hardy yellows: 09-07-11

In recent years the creation of improved "landscape friendly" shrubs for cold climates has become more of an aspect of my work. To that end, I made a cross in 2007 of 'Golden Angel' X 'John Davis'. I have noted that 'Golden Angel' has bred not only some very disease resistant varieties ('Apricot Twist' is nearly 100% immune to Blackspot and Mildew) but also has the potential for breeding cold climate yellows, seeing as its seed parent was the Brownell climber 'Golden Glow'.

Here is one of about 14 seedlings I obtained last year from this cross of 'Golden Angel' X 'John Davis'. In my wildest dreams I did not imagine getting a yellow as clear and strong as this. (Bloom is about 2/3 open. I will photograph it again later, and get a shot of the plant also) As was expected, this group did not bloom in their first year, as these types of seedlings tend not to have any juvenile remontancy. These first flowers are not large, about 2" across, but the plant appears to have superior architecture and the foliage is very beautiful, with a nearly species-like look: dark green, matte and a bluish sheen. There are two other yellows from this group so far and several still to bloom. This is very exciting as these may prove to be useful in the breeding of good yellow disease free shrubs for locations with harsh Winters.

Very busy day, so I can't go into any more detail. I hope to get another photo later today. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Searching for better shrub architecture: 119-06-01

As the years go by and my experience with rose breeding accumulates, I have come to really appreciate the sage advice of Ralph Moore, who said to me: make the plant first and then hang the flowers on it. When Ralph said this, I suddenly realized how many roses in commerce are all about the flower and not about the architecture of the shrub. I don't know many Hybrid Teas that make good landscape shrubs. They're bred to produce cut flowers: solitary blooms on top of tall straight stems. That doesn't exactly add up to being a good shrub for the landscape. With this philosophy in mind, I have sought more and more to breed for attractive shrub growth habits. The native American species are beginning to play a role in this pursuit now, as are some of the Rugosas and some of my proprietary hybrids.

I recently mentioned 174-02-17, one of my Hybrid Bracteatas that I use for breeding. It isn't a very attractive shrub in itself, with its wild, wiry horizontal growth and somewhat sparse foliage and small blooms. But it does breed some very good things, particularly attractive shrub architecture. The seedling pictured above is one of the best offspring I have obtained from 174-02-17. ('Hot Cocoa' was the pollen parent) 119-06-01 is the only seedling I got from this cross, and its quite remarkable. At two years of age now, it has built into a very full 3 foot wide shrub with excellent form. The plant is densely foliated with dark glossy leaves and the plant is full right down to ground level. No bare knees on this rose! New basal shoots tend to be quite horizontal, a trait from the Bracteata parent, and they grow more upright as they develop. This makes for a very well rounded plant outline. Blooms are 3" in diameter and quite full, globe shaped. The petals drop cleanly, and there is a pleasant "modern rose" scent. The soft orange blooms are produced in clusters of three to 25, opening sequentially over a long period. Happily, this cultivar is easily propagated from semi-hardwood cuttings.

For me, this represents a nearly ideal shrub in terms of its architecture, bloom presentation and overall effect. I am now using 174-02-17 (its seed parent) extensively in breeding to further explore its capabilities. Funny how you can ignore a seedling for years and not consider its potential as a parent. It just goes to show you that its smart to try out many of your seedlings as parents before you dismiss them as "near misses".

Bee snobbery

Whats the buzz?? I tell people that I don't bother to cover blooms after they have been pollinated. Why not? Because I have observed Bees working around me as I pollinate the roses and I have noticed the same behavior over and over again: Bees won't visit a bloom that has had its anthers removed! So I would suggest you spare yourself the trouble of covering pollinated blooms to prevent Bees from randomly dropping unwanted pollen on your blooms. The likelihood of this happening appears to be very, very slight. (You still might want to cover blooms if you expect rain to wash off your pollen, of course)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Mistakes were made, part II

Some would say that hybridizing is mostly luck and happy accidents. I would tend to agree with that. Consider this rose. I call it simply "Floor Moss". Why? Because it was a chance seedling that grew in the gravel floor of one of my greenhouses, under a bench just at the edge of one of the aisles. I first saw it about four years ago when it was about 4 inches tall, and I thought to myself just leave it be and see how it does. I figured that if it survived on near total neglect where it was, it might be worth keeping. Well, it grew like the proverbial weed and flowered for the first time in 2008. This year it has had 8 blooms and at least that many still to come. Yes, its a Moss hybrid and I suspect it is a 'Condoleezza' hybrid, as I was doing a lot of crosses with it back then. In fact, since it is a once-blooming Moss, I have a feeling that its other parent might be "Nutshop", Ralph Moore's Moss bred from 'Schoener's Nutkana'. The bicolor pink style of this flower supports that possibility. Of course, I will never really know.

Anyway, I will probably put some pollen on this rose tonight, to see if I can recapture the remontancy in the next generation. I have already proven that it is fertile; I collected open pollinated seed from it this Spring and they germinated easily.

Bracteata line breeding.

It seems to me that line breeding is rarely pursued in the breeding of roses. In part, I expect this is because undesirable recessives start to show up and loss of hybrid vigor becomes an issue as well. Still, many of the Canadian Explorer roses rely heavily on line breeding, making extensive use of the 'Red Dawn' X 'Suzanne' line and the 'Kordesii' line, and with great success.

Well, I have been working with the Moore line of Hybrid Bracteatas for several years now and it has become very clear that the biggest battle with these is getting decent color out of them. Ralph Moore's most attractive hybrid of the group (for me) is 'Out of Yesteryear', whose parentage is 'Sequoia Gold' X 'Muriel'. 'Muriel' is Moore's first successful cross using R. bracteata (crossed with 'Guinee') that was fully fertile and able to carry forward the line. 'Muriel' is a tetraploid, as is 'Sequoia Gold', but when these two were crossed, 'Out of Yesteryear' resulted and it turned out to be a triploid! How two tetraploids mated to produce a triploid is a bit of a mystery, but there you have it. Even more interesting, 'Out of Yesteryear' is a fully fertile triploid, contrary to the mytholgy of triploids being infertile. You can use its pollen on pretty much anything and get loads of seedlings from it.

I've done plenty of crosses with 'Out of Yesteryear' over the years and there are some excellent traits it passes on, and some not so great ones. Its offsrping tend to have excellent vigor, beautiful foliage and often very beautiful blooms packed with petals. Many are often fragrant as well. However, seedlings can be very thorny, the petal texture too thin and rarely do you get anything with strong coloring. Many seedlings are just white. So when I get a seedling that has decent color, I'm inclined to explore it as a stepping stone towards Bracteata hybrids with good color, which leads me to these two.

174-02-17 = 'Sheri Anne' X 'Out of Yesteryear'. One of its siblings tested as a tetraploid and I suspect this is also. It is a thorny plant that is more horizontal than vertical, with smallish glossy foliage. It blooms at many nodes along the previous season's canes and can bloom in large clusters sometimes. Blooms have a vaguely HT shape when in bud (see photo) but open to a flat 2.5 inch shape. Color is a medium red in bud, fading to a pale red/pink. It sets seed with most any pollen, but seed fertility is low at about 10-20%. However, when it does produce seedlings, a high percentage of them has something about them that warrants further evaluation. Offspring tend to bloom in big clusters with compact, graceful architecture and good color. One of my favorite new shrubs came from a cross of 174-02-17 X 'Hot Cocoa'. (More about this soon)

33-03-03 = 'Twilight Skies' X 'Muriel'. Why, you might ask, did I select the mauve miniature 'Twilight Skies' as the parent for this cross? Because it was there! I had grown it for two years when it was new and it set seed readily, bloomed like mad, so I thought why not? It was untested and might have qualities that would make it worthwhile as a parent. The seedlings from this group were mostly lavender/pinks with one coral colored one in the mix. Several were grown for two years and all but 33-03-03 were discarded for poor vigor or unattractive blooms. 33-03-03 is a semi-climbing plant with dark green glossy foliage and 2.5" medium red blooms that fade to a reddish pink with age, about 25 petals, cupped in form. It blooms in clusters all along the arching canes, repeating in flushes through the year. David Zlesak kindly did ploidy tests on some of my Bracteata seedlings for an article we were co-authoring*, a few years back and it turns out that 33-03-03 is a tetraploid. It is fertile in both directions and should be compatible with most other tetraploids.

174-02-17 and 33-03-03 happen to be growing side by side in one of the greenhouses, both descended from R. bracteata through 'Muriel', and both were selected for their relatively strong coloring. Yet it never occurred to me to cross the two together....until now. The idea (and hope) here is that some of the more interesting Bracteata traits might be reenforced while retaining the vigor, repeat blooming habit and red coloring of each. Anything could happen of course. I might end up with a load of diseased seedlings with no vigor and no rebloom. Its possible the seeds might not even germinate, assuming I get seeds at all! We shall see.

*See: Bracteata Gene Counts Article

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Mistakes were made......

I'm pretty good about documenting my work properly and making sure things are labeled clearly and correctly, but occasionally accidents happen. In this case, I have a seedling germinated in 2007 that is clearly not from the cross the label says its from. 130-06 is a group of open pollinated 'Old Blush' seedlings. There is not even a hint of 'Old Blush' in this plant. What I expect happened is that a seed from another cross wormed its way into the 130-06 row and thats how it was labeled. In '06 I did quite a lot with 'Midnight Blue' and this seedling looks very similar to some of the seedlings from those crosses. Anyway, I am going to assume this had 'Midnight Blue' as a seed parent and leave it at that. I wouldn't be the first hybridizer who lost track of the parentage of a rose.

I have just moved this seedling from a 5 gallon container outside into the garden for further evaluation. In another year I will have a better idea of its merits (and flaws). It has a very decent fragrance, but the blooms are a bit on the small side at 2 to 2.5 inches. The color of the half open buds is amazing and defy photographing; almost black they are such a deep Amaranth purple.

In the weeks to come I will likely present numerous test seedlings, as the 2007 and 2008 crop are all coming into bloom now.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Tip of the day.

When emasculating blooms to prepare them for pollination, I recommend two things in particular:

1) Try not to handle the receptacle (ovary behind the petals) with your fingers, as the oil and bacteria on your hands can cause the developing hip to rot.

2) Leave at least one row of petals on the pollinated bloom when you are done. There is evidence that suggests you get a better rate of "take" when you leave some petals on the bloom while the pollen is settling onto the stigma.

Friday, May 15, 2009

My first hybrid: "Red Star"

My alternative name for this seedling is "Misery". *laughs*

Yes, this is the first rose I raised from seed, in about 1997. I recall that 'Black Jade' was the seed parent and probably Austin's 'Wenlock' was the pollen parent. I've filed this under "what was I thinking???" This is a miserable little seedling, with mildew loving foliage and its 12" stumpy, awkward growth habit. It has nothing going for it at all, but I keep it because it was the very first seedling I germinated. I doubt many hybridizers still have their first seedling, which probably speaks more to their good sense than their sentimentality!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Old dogs and new tricks, part III

In 2006 I decided to do an experiment with 'Fortune's Double Yellow', the massive climbing Hybrid Gigantea, by putting its pollen on my favorite orange mini breeder, 'Joycie'. Why? To see what would happen, of course! Fortune's Double Yellow' is believed to be capable of breeding strong yellow offspring, and yet as far as we know it has not been well explored as a breeding plant. It is probably almost completely sterile as a seed bearer but its pollen is quite fertile.

I obtained about 21 seedlings from cross 47-06, none of which bloomed in their first year of growth, which was Summer of 2007. They were moved into gallon pots to mature for the following year. In 2008, three of these bloomed: one was a deep orange five-petaled flower with a dark rusty-red overlay, one was a very double ruffled hot pink 2" bloom and one was a very large medium pink Tea-shaped bloom on a vigorous plant which would obviously be a climber. In fact, that latter is proving to grow in very much the style of a Gigantea climber with classic Gigantea foliage and large, vigorous canes bearing a few hooked prickles. The rose illustrated here is that seedling. As you can see it holds it blooms in a pendant fashion, which is wholly appropriate for a climber that will present its blooms from several feet above the viewer's head.

Now, in Spring 2009, fourteen of the 47-06 group have bloomed and for the most part are quite disappointing. None has strong yellow coloring except the five-petaled orange-red one. Most are pinks with varying degrees of yellow, and a couple are phototropic, developing a red blush with age. I have pollinated a few of these, and used their pollen elsewhere, to determine if any are fertile. I believe 'Joycie' is a tetraploid, and 'Fortune's Double Yellow' being a diploid, these seedlings are likely triploids. (Although work David Zlesak and I did with the Moore Hybrid Bracteatas showed that seedlings of mixed ploidy crosses did not always have the ploidy expected of the cross) With any luck this big pink seedling will be fertile, as it would be fun to create some new Hybrid Gigantea climbers for mild climates.

I have documented the rest of these seedlings with photos and will show these in the next few days. I just need to make time to prepare the photos, but with the pollination season in full swing right now, that could be difficult! Stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Someone asked.....

I was asked the other day: "To get 100 seedlings or so from a cross how many flowers do you pollinate on average. And if something turns up that is great do you repeat that cross once more or do you stop there."

Good question.

That really depends on what the track record of the seed parent is like. If I was to use 'Sequoia Ruby' for example, I would need to pollinate maybe 20 or 25 blooms to guarantee 100 seedlings since nearly every seed it makes germinates. So it all depends on the seed parent. Sometimes you have to just guess and hope.

I have fallen into a pattern of planning crosses in two year cycles, which is to say that if I want to try a cross and I am very uncertain of its viability, I will just pollinate ten blooms or so and see what happens, If the seeds germinate poorly, or not at all, I don't bother trying to repeat it. Sometimes you look at a large population of seedlings from a cross and you select ten from it and they are all very similar, in which case I wouldn't likely repeat the cross, assuming I got the best it had to offer. If I only got 5 seedlings and they all looked very different and very interesting, I would definitely repeat the cross in larger numbers.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Today's big pollen donor.

'Gloire des Rosomanes, by Plantier circa 1825 and introduced by Vibert in 1836. It is sometimes listed as a China, a Bourbon or even a primitive Hybrid Perpetual. Fully remontant, relatively disease free in most climates, and a lovely scent. It is a known triploid, and yet contrary to popular mythology it is highly fertile. In fact, it is responsible for numerous hybrids, involved in the pedigree of 7264 unique hybrids to date. Most of these came down through 'General Jacqueminot', the famous "red" Hybrid Perpetual. Today, I have been slapping 'Gloire des Rosomanes' pollen on numerous plants, to see what variety of results I get using it on modern hybrids. Its the "old dog, new tricks" school of thought.

Anyway, very busy day for me, I have been up since 5:30 AM and have been pollinating since 6:30 (through till 12:30 PM!). And now, I must go attend to watering chores. Ta!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

In search of better moss shrubs: 90-02-02

This seedling is another of my moss shrubs, bred in 2002. It came out of a cross of 'Condoleezza' X "Nutshop", back when 'Condoleezza' was still just an un-named test variety Sequoia had sent to me for evaluation. The pollen parent, "Nutshop" is also a Moore moss shrub bred from ('Schoener's Nutkana' X 'Christopher Stone') X "Orange Moss" and its code number is 25-59-7. It earned the nickname "Nutshop" from Burling Leong and Kim Rupert who found it growing on the Sequoia Nursery property years ago, overgrown by other plants and long forgotten. "Nutshop" is a once blooming pink and yellow moss rose, with good shrub architecture and dark, almost black mossing. It passes on repeat flowering to many of its offspring if mated with the right rose. I have used it only as a pollen parent, although it does set open pollinated seed.

I have been watching 90-02-02 for years now, always hoping it would perform better with each passing year, but I have to conclude that its a dud. It is a low growing plant (under 2 feet) with awkward growth and mediocre, sparse foliage. The mossing is quite good and the buds when half open are a beautiful flame red with a yellow reverse. The blooms have a unique "orange juice-ish" scent that was no doubt inherited from "Orange Moss".
When full open, the blooms fade to a pink and pale yellow combination which unfortunately tend to scorch in the sun. Hence, a dud.

However, this cross was only a test cross and only a half dozen seedlings were raised. I don't know why I never pursued it further, since this seedling shows potentially better things might be had from such a cross. This could be an instance where a much better seedling might be had if I grew out 100 seedlings or more to select from, and so I think I will repeat the cross again this year to see if something better might be had.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Pollen handling and storage

Most hybridizers have their own personalized technique when it comes to collecting and storing pollen, and I'm no exception. Let me describe what I do.

The container shown here is a Watchmaker's Case sold by Lee Valley Tools (Item G. on the page at this URL), and this particular size is the 53mm, which comes in an aluminum carrying case holding 15 of the "jars". This particular set costs $11.20 plus shipping and they last indefinitely if cared for.

Many people like to reuse containers they already have, which is a fine idea. (Baby Food jars are good, film canisters less so.) However, I have been using these Watchmaker's cases for years and find them to be an ideal tool for the job. As you can see, the pollen sticks to the inside glass of the lid and is easily seen. Any glass container is useful for this same reason but I like the fact that I can carry three boxes of fifteen jars (for a total of 45) and have pretty much every pollen I need available to me at that moment.

I gave up using brushes years ago, favoring my fingertips instead, which only require a quick wipe on my shirt to clean before changing pollen. The pollen is very easily taken from the inside of the glass lid of the watchmaker's case for application to the desired stigma(s). If I am done with a particular pollen for the year, I can wash the case and relabel it to collect a new pollen if I want. These are reusable year after year and well worth the initial investment. They are extremely convenient and compact, and provide what I regard as the ideal environment for collecting and storing pollen. Oh, and I also collect pollen in the Fall and dry it in these containers and then into a Ziploc bag in the freezer for use the following Spring. What could be better?!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Black Tea, by Kanjiro Okamoto.

Just for the sake of publishing a nice image: 'Black Tea' bred by Kanjiro Okamoto of Japan, introduced into commerce in 1973. Its a Hybrid Tea, upright, stiff and rather awkward, with plenty of flesh-ripping thorns. Not a particularly good garden rose, it is grown for its Cinnamon/rust/Chocolate colored blooms which are notoriously difficult to photograph. (This photo doesn't quite get it right, but close) This is one of the so-called "brown" roses, an elite group that has become popular within certain circles in recent years. Click on the image to see a larger version.

This photo is specially for Carolyn Parker, whose photography is always inspirational. Check out her exquisite book entitled R is For Rose.

Coming soon: photos and description of one of my favorite selections from the cross of 'Joycie' X 'Fortune's Double Yellow' made in '06.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Bits and bobs

In the process of preparing pollen for the Spring pollination season, hundreds and hundreds of blooms are torn apart to remove their anthers.I am constantly creating and clearing up multi-hued heaps of petals from my work surfaces. Yesterday I was struck by the delicious range of hues that make up the petals of 'Mons. Tillier', the old Tea. (Whose identity has long been disputed. See Jocelen Janon's recent report) So here, just for your delight, is a photo of said heap of fruit-colored petals and discarded ovary, sans anthers.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Those crazy crested hybrids.

Back in the 1980's Ralph Moore of California became enchanted by the bizarre Parsley-like sepals of R. centifolia cristata, commonly known as 'Chapeau de Napoleon'. At that time there were no known hybrids from it, and so Ralph set out to accomplish what would be one of the most challenging tasks of his career: to create a Floribunda style modern rose that had sepals like those of 'Chapeau de Napoleon'. As it happens, this was to be a most difficult goal to achieve, and Ralph still did not get as far down that road as he would have liked, even thirty years later.

One of the big problems with the centifolia cristata line is that first generation hybrids are often sterile, and so you immediately hit a wall. However, Ralph was able to obtain two hybrids that proved to be fertile and became pivotal in making a way forward: 'Crested Jewel' and "Queencrest". The latter is just a nickname for a seedling created when he crossed 'Queen Elizabeth' X R. centifolia cristata, as it was never introduced into commerce but only used for breeding purposes. 'Crested Jewel' ('Little Darling' X R. centofila cristata) has been the most significant contributor to the crested breeding programme, being highly fertile as a pollen parent and marginally fertile as a seed bearer. Most all of Ralph's repeat blooming "Crested Floribundas" are the result of crossing a Floribunda with 'Crested Jewel'. (You can read more about this line of breeding at this URL)

Fast forward to 2000: I collected open pollinated seeds from my 'Crested Jewel' and sowed them the following Spring. I don't recall how many seedlings I got, but only one was kept. When it was a year old it was planted in one of the areas assigned as a test beds, along with thirty or so other seedlings, mostly intermediate hybrids engineered to take me to specific goals. Here the seedling remained until January 2009, when I rediscovered it languishing in back of a group of larger seedlings. I dug it up and put it in a pot and moved it into my main breeding house, where it is about to be put into service. It looks almost identical to 'Crested Jewel', with semi-double medium pink blooms on a tall plant, and moderately intense cresting on its sepals. The big difference though, is that it is fully remontant. It sets seed and so I am presuming it will prove fertile when used with other hybrids. *crosses fingers* Why I never pursued this in breeding is beyond me. I should have tried working with this years ago.

I'll post photos of the open blooms in a couple weeks.

Monday, May 4, 2009

A question about raising non-remontant seedlings.

Today I was asked a question about raising once-blooming (non-remontant) seedlings.

"how do you grow your non-recurrent seedlings in pots? I have more non-recurrent roses coming on than ever, and keeping them in pots would be helpful. Unfortunately, I am not clear on how I can keep the pot size down to something reasonable, how long they should take to bloom, and how to water them."

This is a good question. Its a matter of managing space and energy and optimizing the process of maturing seedlings that may take three years or more to start blooming (usually two). Although three years ago I had the garden space to row out non-remontant seedlings as much as I wanted, I am now at capacity in the garden and so I must now grow my selections on in containers. Here's how it works for me: Crosses I make that I know will result in once blooming offspring are potted up into 3" square pots initially and grown on until June, or until they appear ready for potting on. At this time I evaluate the seedlings for health, vigor, architecture and overall attractiveness. In making this evaluation I try to assess the individual plant's likelihood of exhibiting one or more desirable traits, knowing that selecting for bloom quality/color later on will eliminate many of these.

From the 3" pot stage, selected seedlings are moved into 1 gallon black plastic nursery containers where most remain until the following year year. The following Spring, when these seedlings are 12 to 15 months old from germination, most of them will bloom for the first time. Some individuals/crosses may take longer, but the vast majority will flower at this stage. A culling occurs at this first flowering and any plants whose blooms are determined to be inferior will be discarded. The remainder are likely to be moved up into five gallon containers and placed in another greenhouse or outdoors in the open garden for further assessment.

If I select individuals from these once-blooming crosses for breeding purposes (because they have traits I wish to proceed another generation with) they may be potted on the following year (year three) into much larger containers that will likely sustain them for many years. I usually choose a container size that is about 24" across and 20" deep (or whatever I have available in that size range) for this purpose. Selections that are intended for breeding material will either be moved into my main breeding house, or if they are to be timed for pollination with roses in the open garden, they might be placed outside the greenhouse. (Plants kept in the greenhouse, even though it is unheated, often bloom three or four weeks ahead of the rest of the garden and so timing container grown plants to be in bloom when a pollen donor in the open garden is in bloom requires some planning.)

Once-blooming selections that are potentially viable on their own merits as commercial shrubs are likely to be planted out directly in the garden from the five gallon stage, as these will need permanent locations to establish them properly. Its getting difficult to find places for these now, but I am culling plants from oen of the test beds every year so locations do open up every Summer. I still do some breeding with Gallicas, with the goal of producing new Gallicas in the traditional style, and these require placement in the garden in order to perform properly.

If I've omitted any details in this description, please ask for more information by commenting, thanks.

My trusty assistant

This is my trusty assistant in the greenhouse, Isabel. Ever vigilant, she helps maintain order in the chaos that is my workspace. ;-)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Since we're on the topic of miniatures....

I thought I'd show you a new mini: 58-06-05. This came out of a 2006 cross of Ralph Moore's famous yellow breeder 1-72-1 crosses with 'Hot Cocoa' by Tom Carruth. Only in my wildest dreams did I imagine a miniature with this color intensity would be possible. Now, to be honest, the plant lacks grace (grown in the greenhouse so far, it might look better when moved outside into the open) and the foliage is a bit sparse for my liking. But this is potentially a useful exhibition style variety, since it makes plenty of one-to-a-stem blooms that present well. This seedling also propagates rediculously easily from cuttings.

The photo doesn't do it justice, really; the petal texture is more velvety in reality and the color is deeper, richer, more luminous. Its a real "Jocelyn brown" color. Very "oxblood'. I'll be moving this seedling (and its sibling which is similar, but with better foliage and architecture) outdoors soon so I can see how it behaves in the garden. With any luck the plant will take on a more attractive growth habit and the foliage will improve.

The mess that is my main breeding house

Yes, this is it; my most untidy breeding greenhouse. Benches built "Ralph Moore style", just 2 X 4 frames with wire mesh surfaces laid on top of construction blocks. It does the job though and it was inexpensive to make. The floor is bare earth covered with black plastic weed control fabric. As you can see, its a metal hoop house with poly stretched over it, also relatively inexpensive. I bought the best grade of poly available because I found I can get at least 8 years use out of it. Everything is watered by hand, although I have the infrastructure available to set up automatic watering if I want. I think this setup is a good compromise between functionality, cost, and durability.

If you click on the image and look closely, you can see I have hung a few tags here and there already. (Upper left quadrant: I have pollinated 105-04-08 with a few things) Its far from glamorous, but it gets the job done.


Saturday, May 2, 2009

A more recent miniature: 25-07-07

As I mentioned in my previous post, I don't use miniatures in my work to breed new miniatures, but to utilize them for some of their other characteristics. It can be a specific trait I am trying to obtain, or some general trait like compact growth habit. In the case of this seedling, I was aiming to capture stripes, as the pollen parent was 'Pinstripe' by Ralph Moore. While I did get a couple of striped seedlings from this group, I am still evaluating them and am unsure of their merit.

This seedling, number 07 from the cross of 'Midnight Blue' X 'Pinstripe', has been a rather pleasant surprise. Yes, its a miniature, but a rather unique one I think. In many ways it is a perfect miniature replica of its seed parent except that it has more of a tiny Waterlily bloom form. (I regard Tom Carruth's 'Midnight Blue' as a triumph of modern hybridizing in terms of its overall performance and remarkable purple coloring.) 25-07-07 is still only one year old and has not yet matured, so I don't really know much about its ultimate size or shrub form. It appears to be fairly upright but bushy, and it is going to bloom in clusters. Bloom size is about 1.5" and it has a moderate/strong fragrance reminiscent of its seed parent. (Somewhat Clove-ish) This seedling propagates readily from cuttings as well, which is always a good thing.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Out of the archive: 06-02-05

Busy morning here; I have to go pot up the most recent flush of seedlings while the weather is decent.

Looking back to 2002, I was still doing a lot of work with miniatures, breeding more miniatures. (These days I use some miniatures with the intention of creating shrubs of a certain character, not miniatures.) Back in '02 I was using 'June Laver' quite a bit, and this seedling is a cross of 'June Laver' X 'Little Darling', a very "old school" cross. (I mean, who uses 'Little Darling' anymore??!) Still, this turned out to be a very decent seedling. I've watched it for years and it makes a very compact bush about 14" tall, presenting blooms well-placed at the top of the canopy of foliage. No fragrance, of course. Essentially its a light-medium yellow with a reddish flush mostly at the petal tips. It gets the red blush more in the Spring and Fall and is a clear yellow color in the Summer. It has exhibition quality bloom form about 80% of the time.

This pretty rose has sat on my benches for years now and I have admired it but never considered it as a commercial introduction. However, recently one of the "big boys" in the rose industry has taken an interest in it and is evaluating it for potential introduction. No point in leaving a perfectly pretty rose stuffed in a corner of my greenhouse where nobody gets to see it, right? ;-)