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Welcome to the July 2002 edition of my web site! The roses I write about are the Old Garden Roses and select shrub and miniature roses of the 20th century. For tips on rose culture, pruning, propagation and history, see "Other resources on this site". To return to this page, click on the "thorn icon" in the margin at left. Articles from the previous months are archived and can be viewed by clicking on the listings in the left margin. Oh, and please don't write to me for a catalog or pricelist.....this is an information site only.....not a commercial nursery. If you wish to buy roses, see my sponsor, The Uncommon Rose. Thanks!

seed hips forming on 'Penny Ante'Its July; Can I Rest Now?
by Paul Barden

My fingers are stained yellow from pollen. My back aches and my posture has suffered, I'm sure of it. I have scars and scratches all over my hands and forearms. I can feel the subtle effects of sleep deprivation; crankiness and lethargy have set in. The house is a mess and the pantry is empty. My nose is stuffed up at the end of the day. But, I am satisfied. What could possibly have preciptated such a condition, you might ask??? Its pollination season. It starts in mid-May and ends in the first week of July, with a few exceptions. In the past 6 weeks, I have made approximately 3900 pollinations on my stud roses. In the greenhouse I am working mostly with the Miniatures, but outdoors I am working with the Rugosas, Gallicas, shrubs and Ramblers. The amount of work I must do between March 1st and July 1st always seems insurmountable, and yet I slug away at it. New seedlings must be potted up, last year's seedlings evaluated with their first/second blooms. I propagate the things that show promise, and weed out the obvious losers. I wake at 5:30 or 6:00AM, and start work immediately. Blooms must be emasculated before the sun warms them sufficiently to burst their anthers and shed their pollen. 'Sheri Anne' with hips starting to form.Some mornings it takes me 4 to 5 hours to complete the pollination work, and there are even a few days that I must return to pollinating in the early evening. I dare not count the hours this task has consumed this year. Never mind that...ask me what I'm going to do with 5000 seedlings this time next year! Ah, but when a new seedling blooms and it makes me think "Oh, WOW!", then suddenly all those hours of mucking about with pollen seem irrelevant. Anyway, lets talk about other things. Then I'm off to find a nice shady place to do some recreational reading.....NOT about roses!
;-)

At right; Seed hips forming on the Miniature 'Sheri Anne'. Click on the image to see it full size.

Last winter I was doing research on Ralph Moore's R. bracteata breeding line, and I encountered some data about some of the other roses that have been bred from this challenging species. (In Spring 2002, Mr. Moore released three new Bracteata hybrids; 'Precious Dreams', 'Star Dust', and 'Tangerine Jewel'.) 'Maria Leonidas'It seems that several of the very early hybrids with the species are now extinct, but I discovered that one of them, 'Maria Leonida', still exists and is available in commerce again. Excerpted from that article: 'Maria Léonida': Lemoyne/Burdin, 1829. R. bracteata X "a China-Tea", possibly 'Hume's Blush Scented Tea'. Thought to be extinct, but recently reintroduced into commerce, it is now available from B & B Nursery in California, which is where mine came from. As with most of the first generation Bracteata hybrids, this rose must be grown in a warm climate, where hard freezes are not anticipated. It should be ideal for California, Texas, etc.

At left; 'Maria Leonida'

I have had this rose for only a short time so far, so I cannot comment in detail on its performance. However, as the older descriptions suggest, it does have the most exquisite foliage, not unlike that of its bigger cousin, 'Mermaid'. Blooms have an informal, ruffled double appearance to them, and a noticeable fragrance that is somewhat "peachy" in tone. The petals are somewhat like crepe paper in texture, but last well. Individual blooms are about 3.5 inches across and opening flat and slightly cupped. Although some historical notes suggest that it is slightly remontant, it is likely a once-bloomer. I'll let you know what the truth turns out to be. I plan on finding out whether or not it is fertile also. It is to be expected that this will make a very large shrub of possible 8 X 8 feet.

Speaking of 'Mermaid' and Ralph Moore, not that long ago Ralph introduced a new sport of 'Mermaid' into commerce, calling it (appropriately) 'Little Mermaid'. It was a sport discovered by Ralph's friend Blanche Wimer, and is one of the dwarf root sports. (Occasionally a rose will send up a very swarf sport directly from its root system) One report I found suggested that this root sport occurred on a plant that was badly damaged by fire, killing it to the ground.

At right: 'Little Mermaid'

This little rose is an exact replica of the monstrous 'Mermaid' but in miniature. It will grow as a ground cover, or a small climber to five feet or so, pushing out 2" pale lemon single blooms throughout the season. As does its parent, it makes a significant display of bloom in the early summer, somewhat later than many other roses, and blooms sporadically throughout the remainder of the season. The foliage is very glossy and exquisite in its miniaturism. The conspicuous display of stamens are also a delight.

There is another Miniature sport of 'Mermaid' called 'Happenstance', but 'Little Mermaid' is said to be a superior plant because it is more tolerant of alkaline soils, and is generally less finicky. I have a feeling this is going to become one of my most treasured roses.

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