Emily Gray (H. Wichuraiana) [Jersey Beauty x Comtesse du Cayla]

Conard-Pyle 1931

American Rose Annual (1923)
The Yellow Climber, Emily Gray

REALLY yellow climbing roses have been, north of the section where the Noisette roses are hardy, among the things that "ain't," in America. Gardenia and Aviateur Bleriot, Ghislaine de Feligonde and Goldfinch, and many others of equivalent promise, have bleached out in our brilliant sunshine, showing definite yellow only in bud.

But Emily Gray is different. The photograph making Plate XI shows the open rose and a hint of a bud, and these are definitely clear yellow, the mature flower becoming a pleasing ecru on the second day.

Then this rose has foliage so beautiful and individual that one would want it even if it did not bloom. It has a thick, waxy texture, and the young leaves are deep crimson.

Emily Gray came to Breeze Hill in the spring of 1921, and began to make herself at home quite promptly. Hints that she would shiver and die over winter proved baseless for the following mild winter, and to date (March 14) proved likewise unfounded after some severe nights and days of cold and wind, not below 10º above zero, however. The growth has been fine, and the blooms in 1922 were most delightful.

Through the kindness of our friend, Mr. Courtney Page, Hon. Secretary of the National Rose Society, the Editor was brought in correspondence contact with the originator of this notable rose, who writes as follows:

"I am more than pleased to have your appreciation of the qualities of Emily Gray. However highly one may think of one's own production, one never knows how it will stand the test of time, or more especially how it will do under different climatic conditions. It is most gratifying to hear that it does well in America.

*Comtesse du Cayla is a Hybrid China introduced by Guillot in 1902, described as having double flowers of nasturtium-red to orange-yellow. Jersey Beauty is an American (Manda) hybrid between Rosa Wichuraiana and Perle des Jardins, a vigorous yellow Tea rose.—EDITOR.

Emily Gray was the result of crossing Jersey Beauty with the pollen of Comtesse du Cayla.* I have quite a number of seedlings from that particular cross. Most of them were strong climbers, but quite a fair proportion of them were dwarf and perpetual-flowering. The foliage of all of them was good, but none had quite the robustness and individuality of Emily Gray. The colors ranged from deep golden yellow through all stages of yellow to creamy white; one was coppery salmon, but it was most disappointing in that the blooms were borne on short stems and the plant is not a vigorous climber, though it was very effective pegged down.

Most of my hybridization has been with Wichuraiana hybrids, and I have found Jersey Beauty a very good seed parent.

I have, unfortunately, not been able to devote much attention to my roses for the last few years. One of the results of the late war was that I had to leave my old home to take up recruiting work in Lancashire, and I have been kept in this neighborhood of Manchester on the work of our Ministry of Pensions ever since. This work is most exacting and leaves me little leisure for my own private pursuits, and the climate of this part of England is not suitable for open-air seed-raising.

All my cross-fertilization has been done in the open. The stamens are removed whilst the flower is in bud, the pistil examined with powerful lens for any trace of auto-fertilization; then after the cross has been made, the flower is wrapped in a twist of waxed tissue paper to prevent further fertilization. The seeds are raised under glass, and as soon as the seedlings are a few inches high they are planted out in the open. The robust survive and the weaklings do not. This is somewhat drastic treatment, but at any rate it assures me that any of my seedlings that come to maturity are of sound constitution.

I still have a number of interesting seedlings in my old garden in the south, but I cannot seriously test their value until I can devote more time to them.

Yours faithfully,
A. H. WILLIAMS.