American Rose Magazine
2(9): 152 (May-June 1938)
On Selecting Budwood
James W. Blanks
May I, as a member of the rose-loving band, appeal on behalf of the long-suffering rose amateurs? They are long suffering, and the very best of sports. Witness the grace and good nature with which they took the fiasco of a so-called remontant scarlet climber. All of us have heard explanations of it, but none sound satisfactory. There seems to be something about raising roses for fun that tempers the disposition, and I suppose this is as it should be, for Her Majesty, the Queen of Flowers, deserves delightful lovers.
Why can't we grow the newer roses with the magnificent display of the nursery test-gardens? We travel hundreds of miles to see the new things growing, and come back all a-twitter over some glorious new color, or some wonderful new form, but when we plank down real money for them, we sometimes receive small plants that put out weak shoots, which sometimes are tipped with a bloom, but just as often are blind.
Where, or, where, are the test-garden blooms? I don't know, but experts tell me that they have disappeared in the use of weak and immature buds for mass production. They tell me that weak buds from weak and immature bud-wood will invariably produce weak plants, and that buds from blind bud-wood will increase the tendency to produce blind plants.
Some time ago I received a letter from an Oregon "Proof of the Pudding" correspondent, taking me to task for a report on Rouge Mallerin, and in defending myself I struck up quite a correspondence. I found out that he operated a nursery, and because I liked the way he talked, and I, too, wanted to try some plants from the rose heaven of Oregon, I ordered several from him. When they came they were the most magnificent plants I had ever received. Everyone who sees them comments on their vigor. I wrote and asked him how he did it, and his reply was, "Bud selection."
One of these plants, a Mrs. Pierre S. du Pont is planted in the middle of some Mrs. du Ponts from one of our larger, much-advertised, mass-production nurseries. (The one whose test-gardens I travel about 300 miles each year to see.) The difference is so apparent that a visitor to my garden before the plants had bloomed, who knew nothing about this affair, asked why I planted a Radiance in a bed of Mrs. du Pont!
Now, Brother Nurserymen, we know that you are all good fellows; otherwise, you would not be growing roses. We also realize that you must make a living, but don't you think it is bad business to palm off an unsatisfactory plant on a trusting customer (especially one who, if treated right, will be an annual customer for the remainder of his life) when so simple a matter as bud-selection, and a little care not to overpropagate, will do the trick? We had much rather wait a couple of years and get carefully budded plants than to plant them now and make a failure. Many of us are budding our own, so we can get good plants. Does this not make lost business and less income? Any of us would prefer paying you 75 cents to $2 for good plants, but unless you co-operate, we might just as well buy ten-cent store roses and save the difference, because at least some of the time we get no better from you.
I am sure, from my own experience, that if some of the new roses showed up as poorly in the test-gardens as they do in our gardens, they would never have been introduced.