Welcome to the September 2003 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 the "Site Resources Guide" box in the navigation panel at left. 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.
2003 Seedling Selections.
The time from March through September is, for me, the most fascinating few months of the year; so much happens in this span of time. In early March the seedlings begin to germinate and produce first leaves. April is when they all get potted on into individual 3" pots, and here they start to show their individuality. The first of them begin to bloom during this time, and some of them also show their predisposition for mildew. By May, many of them have outgrown their pots and are selected for moving up into gallon containers. By early June, the remontant seedlings have pretty much bloomed and the poor ones, the less interesting ones, the weak ones have been culled out. July and August are the next culling phase; moved into gallon pots and placed outdoors in the open air, they show their abilities (or faults), and as they develop, the better ones are marked for further evalutaion. At this point, I estimate that I have kept about 0.7 % of the seedlings. By next Spring, I expect I will have kept no more than 0.1 % for further evaluation. Out of that group, I expect to choose no more than 8 or ten for introduction. It's a harsh process, isn't it? Out of approximately 4000 seedlings grown this Spring, only a handful will ever be grown by anyone but me. Still, I am more generous than many of the big commercial breeders; they select one in 10,000, generally!
It was for the sake of curiosity rather than any expectations of results that I made the cross of 'Oakington Ruby' X 'Little Chief' last year. I was interested in seeing what might come from crossing two Miniatures that have a track record of producing very dwarf offspring. Perhaps it would result in some extremely dwarf seedlings? Well, it resulted in a few very curious seedlings, one of which is the pink Miniature shown at right. (I'll decribe one of the other seedlings in a moment) The seedling you see here is quite dwarf, with very glossy, deep green foliage that is no more than 2" long, and moderately thorny canes that branch heavily. While I cannot be certain of its mature size, I'd hazard a guess that it will be no more than about 15" tall, and somewhat wider. Blooms come in clusters of three to five or more, and are scented almost like Sweet Peas. I didn't expect to keep any of these seedlings, but this one is going to stick around for further evaluation.
The second seedling I kept from the same cross is in fact a Micromini. (At right) This tiny rose has grown to about 4 inches tall and five inches wide in its first year, bearing 1/3 inch blooms of dark reddish maroon. The buds are similar in size to 'Si' as they begin opening, but are smaller when fully open. This marvellously microscopic rose has proven easy to root from cuttings, and so I'm going to start building up plants for propagation material this coming season. I think this rose will appeal to those who like the Microminis, as a novelty rose for growing in pots. This is the smallest seedling I have grown to date.
I suppose this cross was made with the idea of mating two very successful parents, 'June Laver' and 'Little Darling', with the expectation that some worthwhile offspring would result. Usually 'Little Darling' is used as a seed parent, but it works equally well as a pollen donor. 'June Laver' is a reluctant pollen parent, and so I had no choice but to use it as the seed parent. A few nice seedlings came out of this lot, but many of them lacked petal count or lasting color. None were strong yellows, but one or two were light yellow and red blends, as is the one you see here.
This selection, which I consider to be the very best of the lot, is quite beautiful with its peachy yellows and reddish markings. It blooms in clusters and one to a stem, which might make it a good variety for exhibitors. It holds its form a long time and the petal substance is excellent. Unlike its seed parent, this seedling does not suffer from short stem syndrome. It easily makes 5 to 8 inch stems, ideal for cutting. I'd say this has a very good chance of being selected for introduction.
One of the most promising of this year's seedlings is a wonderful rich red Miniature Moss that came out of 'Sequoia Ruby' X 'Scarlet Moss'. This is likely my favorite seedling from my 2002 crosses. The plant is a somewhat upright grower, to about 24" tall, branching well to form a shapely, full shrub. Blooms are always produced in clusters of three to twenty, each about 1.5 inches across and fully double with a hint of a button eye at the center. The mossy buds have a fragrance that blends both Balsam and Lemon. This is a spectacularly easy grower with excellent health and vigor, and has rarely been out of bloom since it first began flowering. Few roses I have grown flower as freely or as regularly as this one does. This quality alone bodes well for its future.
Click on the thumbnail at left for a larger view of the buds.
I have been interested for many years in breeding lines that has involved unconventional ways to use the Old Roses. One of my favorite apricot Hybrid Tea-style roses (I have very few "favorite" Hybrid Teas, mind you) is the Moore rose 'It's Showtime'. It resulted from a cross of the orange miniature 'Joycie' and the old Tea 'Bon Silene'. It grows like a somewhat bushier, more finely branched Hybrid Tea, showing a definite influence of its Tea parent.
'It's Showtime' has not been explored in any significant way (so far as I know) as a parent, and so last year I made a few exploratory crosses using it as a pollen parent. Reluctantly fertile, it resulted in a small amount of seed when crossed with one of my favorite seed Miniatures "Penny Ante". The seedlings I got from this sowing were interesting, and a few appear to be well worth keeping for further evaluation. Pictured here is one of the nicest selections; a miniature apricot with lovely bloom form. The initial results have been encouraging enough for me to continue to use 'It's Showtime' as a parent in other, more eclectic crosses.
There is a separate page listing several of the other seedlings from this cross, if you'd like to view them.
When working with the once-blooming European roses of classes like the Gallicas, there is often a long waiting period between sowing the seeds full maturation of the plant for an honest evaluation. In 1999 I made a cross of 'Duchesse de Montebello' X 'St. Swithun' which resulted in about 5 or 6 seedlings. Two were kept after they flowered the following year, and those two were plaved out in the garden to grow to a mature size. This selection is by far the nicest of the two, and in my opinion, combines the best traits of both parents nicely. Blooms are about 3.5 inches each, usually borne in clusters of three and five. The fragrance is rich and complex.
The shrub appears to be about 5 X 5 feet, full and bushy, with large semi-matte foliage in a beautiful bluish green and is quite disease resistant in my garden. Unfortunately, this rose did not inherit the remontancy of its English parent, but it has a long bloom period in early Summer during which it produces large numbers of near-perfect blooms of exquisite OGR form.
In search of dark crimson-reds of manageable size, I used pollen from the old climbing Hybrid Tea 'Guinee' on the climbing red Miniature 'Sequoia Ruby'. The results in general were "unspectacular", but three seedlings came close to my goal, the best of which is illustrated here. It presents 2.5 inch blooms of the darkest crimson with purplish tints as it ages. While the bloom and color are both wonderful, the plant has been a bit on the weak side so far, so it will be another season before I decide if this rose has any merit.
Earlier I mentioned Ralph Moore's use of 'Joycie' in some unconventioanl crosses (See: 'It's Showtime'). Approaching this rose from my own perspective, I used 'Joycie' as a seed parent with several shrub roses as pollen parents. Out of several crosses, the most striking lot of seedlings came from 'Joycie' X 'Crepuscule', the yellow-peach Noisette/Tea climber. Out of a lot of perhaps 45 seedlings, I kept over 20 of them for evaluation. The one you see here is one of two that I like best. It grows like a finely branched, semi-horizontal Polyantha, with loads of golden OGR style blooms about 2" across. There were many bicolors with gold and chinese reds from this group as well, and some of them are being kept for evaluation. This particular one is a particularly nice rose, with dark green glossy foliage that appears to be disease free. Click here to see one of the other selections from this cross.
A couple of years ago, I started using the Austin hybrid 'Abraham Darby' in breeding, and the results are now showing promise. While this isn't a seedling from last year, it is now mature enough for me to feel able to offer comment on it.
This is a five foot shrub now, which produces clusters of three blooms all over a well-proportioned plant. Each bloom is about 4 inches across, opening flat (unlike its parent, which tends to remain deeply cupped) with many petals. The color held very well during a week of temps well over 90F, always holding a delicious peachy color. The fragrance is very fine as well, with hints of lemon to it. It is my intention to introduce this rose sometime in the next year or two.
Ralph Moore has repeatedly urged me to use 'Out of Yesteryear' (Hybrid Bracteata) in my breeding work, and 2002 was the first time I could make serious use of its pollen . The results have been extremely varied, but a number of very nice hybrids have resulted. Seed parents included 'Sheri Anne', 'Dresden Doll', 'June Laver' and 'Sequoia Ruby', to name a few. (A cross made using 'Lilian Austin' as a seed parent resulted in weak seedlings, most of which died after two months of age.)
A few selections from 'Sheri Anne' have been saved for study, most of which are small climber style plants, and a few small shrubs with 2 inch blooms. The same applies to the 'June Laver' crosses, with the exception that there were two full-sized shrub types plants, one of which is a perfect cream colored single bloom, and the other is a rich apricot-orange shrub with large double ruffled blooms and a lovely fragrance. The most interesting cross turned out to be 'Sequoia Ruby' X 'Out of Yesteryear', from which many seedlings were kept. Most are peaches and pinks and a few yellows, and one nice white. The peach-pink combination pictured at left is one of the nicest, with 2 inch blooms that reflex into a pompon shape. It has a nice scent as well. The foliage is dark and healthy, and the plant is compact and densely shrubby.
The second seedling from the 'Sequoia Ruby' X 'Out of Yesteryear' cross is this pink rose pictured at right. The plant itself is very bushy and compact, with lots of healthy dark green semi-glossy foliage. Bloosm are borne in clusters of three or more, and occasionally singly. The blooms are about 2 to 2.5 inches across, fullt double as you can see, and have a very nice, sweet scent that is quite pronounced. I think that these two selections have a very good chance of passing the tests for worthiness. You many see these in commerce in the next couple years, with luck!
The last two I'd like to mention are both Moss hybrids; one is a Miniature, and one is likely to be a Floribunda-style shrub. The peach and red combination bloom shown at right is from a cross involving a very complex un-named seedling, crossed with the deep red 'Scarlet Moss'. The parentage of the seed parent involves 'Lemon Delight', 'Little Darling',and 'Angel Face'.
As you can see from the photo, this selection is a cupped bloom with a blend of peach, yellow and red coloring. The buds are moderately mossed, and the foliage is richly glossy, and the bloom is lightly fragrant. I have high hopes that this will make a healthy bush that flowers a lot!
Lastly, I'd like to include this Moss Miniature. It has stayed a very small plant (under 6" so far) but has bloomed a lot in spite of its size. Each bloom is about 2/3 inch across, and every one is beautifully formed from bud to petal drop. The buds are quite mossy, and the foliage is very glossy and healthy. If it makes a bit more vigorous plant in its second year, it just might have a future. This seedling was from a cross of 'Fairy Moss' X 'Scarlet Moss'.
Because of time and space restraints, I have had to select only a few seedlings to show you, but rest assured, there are dozens more that all have some potential to impress me (and maybe you) as they mature. I'll post reports on the rest as time allows.
© Paul Barden, September 2003