State Hort. Soc for 1892 (27: 235-237, 1893)
Future of Roses in the Northwest
Prof J. L. Budd, Ames
The Rose has been a queen among the ligneous flower plants for ages among the civilized nations of Europe and Asia. In song, story, and home lore, its praises have been continued for centuries. It has been said that poetry and story have been lavish with the roses. "It heaps them into beds, weaves them into crowns, twines them in arbors, forges them into chains, adorns with them the goblet used in the festivals of Bacchus, plants them in the bosom of beauty — nay, not only delights to bring in the rose itself upon every occasion, but seizes each particular beauty it possesses As an object of comparison:— as soft as a rose leaf; as sweet as the rose, rosy clouds; rosy cheeks; rosy lips; rosy blushes; rosy dawns, etc., etc."
But the wonderful rose development and the unequaled popularity have followed the lives of highest civilization and density of population in South Asia and Europe. In Persia, the valley of the Euphrates, the valley of the Danube, in Italy, France, and the home of the European grape, it has reached its highest development and renown. Many of the varieties of this parentage and their American seedlings have succeeded well in the east and south, and still more of the finest forms thrive on our western coast.
But so far they have not been woven into the song or home stories and associations of the great and beautiful northwest. In Iowa the expert, on suitable soil, and with methodic pruning and winter protection, is able to grow a few of the Hybrid Perpetuals, Tea roses, Moss roses, etc. But the average planter must be content with Madame Plantier, Harrison's Yellow, and a few other common sorts which will hardly excite the enthusiasm of the poet.
But a new era is dawning. A few years ago the Ramanas rose of Japan and China was introduced under the name of Rosa rugosa. The red and white flowered varieties soon became popular, even where the best old sorts are grown on account of its beautiful foliage, perpetual blooming, the beauty of its buds, and not least its perfect hardiness everywhere and its freedom from fungus and insects attacks.
It soon attracted the attention of florists as a mother of future hardy roses, and Mr. E. S. Carman, of River Edge, N. J., began the work of crossing its flowers with pollen of our best roses in 1886.
He has produced hundreds of Rugosa hybrids, some of which are said to be very beautiful in foliage, habit and blossom. That some of them will prove hardy in the northwest I have not the least doubt, and I am glad to report that some of them will soon be on the market.
In 1882, the writer was much surprised to find varied forms of Rosa rugosa in Central Russia, even as far north as Kazan, on the Volga. Some of the best of these varieties were introduced and have been disseminated by the Agricultural College at Ames. These introductions have much interest in the way of showing that the great hardiness of the so-called Japan varieties of the rugosa came from the fact that their natal home was in North Central Asia. They are also superior to the Japan sorts on account of being less rampant in growing, with softer outlines, handsomer leaves and handsomer flower buds and flowers. Also some of them are hardier in the far north than those first introduced. The great success of Mr. Carman in crossing this interesting species has led us to extended work in this same line. During the past season we have crossed the blossoms of our best rugosa varieties, both single and half double, with the pollen of the best varieties grown at Des Moines and St. Louis in plant-house and in open air. With the crosses from Gen. Jacqueminot and other fine dark roses we have had fine success, as we have had also with some of our finest white and pink roses of the Hybrid Perpetual and Tea strains.
We have now over 20,000 crossed seeds of the Rosa rugosa put away in sand for next spring's planting. We have every reason to believe that from these seeds will come some of the roses that will live in the future songs and stories of the northwest even as far north as Winnepeg.
This can be predicted with much confidence, for the reason that Mr. Carman's hybrids have retained to so large an extent the handsome foliage, persistent flowering, and habit of the mother plant. Of his hybrids from Jaqueminot pollen, Mr. Carman says, "They are single, semi-double and double roses, of various colors with the leathery foliage of Rugosa."
We have also done some crossing of the best roses on our native species. But our hopes of valuable results are not so sanguine for the reason that the foliage is scanty, and on the open prairies more subject to the attacks of fungi and insects. It is also true that buds and flowers of the natives are not so large and perfect as those of the Rugosa. Yet we have in some parts of north Iowa prairie roses with fine foliage and really handsome flowers. We shall try to cross some of these another season as well as some other fine single roses we have introduced from east Europe and north central Asia.
This is a work that should have been started years ago. In the northwest we must row our own boat in horticulture as the much that has been done in milder climates will not benefit as. At the College we have been preparing for varied lines of promising crossing for a number of years, and we hope to accomplish much good work during the next five years.