Rose Annual 32: 35-38 (1947)
Climbing Roses That Should Be Created
Prof. Stephen F. Hamblin
SOMETHING new in the description of roses is to talk about those not yet created, in the hope that research and seed sowing will follow. Perhaps some of these hoped-for new varieties can be made to appear on earth. We have begun to have large-flowerd climbers of everblooming or recurrent habit. New Dawn is as hardy as any of the group and will give some flowers all season. In regions of zero winters it is more vigorous and productive than any climbing hybrid tea of its color. Its Rosa Wichuraiana parentage has carried hardiness. Several seedlings of this variety have been registered, but as yet none has been strikingly different in color, although some are of ever-blooming bush types. Crosses with other varieties have been made but nobody has hit the bulls-eye. We should keep trying. Orange Everglow and Dream Girl are also in this list and are related in pedigree to some degree. Birdie Blye is not much of a climber but is an everblooming bush or pillar rose. In the successive generations of R. Wichuraiana X HT, a whole row of New Dawns in many colors can be produced.
Everblooming ramblers would seem to be a neat trick. Dorothy Perkins and all her kin bloom but once, or occasionally produce a flower or two in late autumn. Lady Blanche, a white Walsh rambler no longer in the trade, does have quite an autumn show of flowers. Does it set seed? How about re-crossing the polyanthas with ramblers? Has this been tried? Climbing forms of hybrid polyanthas have been on the market, but they climb very little, or if they climb, bloom only once. The Lambert ramblers, such as Arndt, Schiller, Mosel, and the like, do have repeated bloom, but the flowers are small, in phlox-like panicles of varied colors. The best of this groups is Trier, a pale pink with some parentage of Musk rose. Many of the seedlings of Trier are more of the Musk type and not truly hardy. All the Musk roses of Pemberton and others, such as Robin Hood, Wilhelm, Daybreak, Danae and Pax, are the perfect everblooming ramblers but unsuited to zero winters without special covering. Phyllis Bide, an English seedling of hybrid polyantha and climbing tea parentage, is the only hardy reblooming rambler that has real flowers of rose form, but the flowers are an odd color, quite gold in bud and very pink in age. It does flower at intervals all season. Cannot this good work be duplicated in other and better colors? There is some chance that everblooming ramblers are possible. Who will work at it?
Thornless climbers should be more in demand. Many varieties are known to be nearly without prickles but few are now in the trade. Besides a general ease in pruning, it is especially desirable that climbers near walks or where traffic is heavy do not reach out to tear clothing or scratch faces. Not all climbers need to be thornless but a few should be available for special uses. At least a dozen unarmed climbers have been grown, of which Tausendschön is a good example. At present Bloomfield Courage, a rambler with small single fiery red flowers is the only one generally available in the trade. A climber without prickles perhaps cannot be bred directly but this characteristic might appear in seedlings.
Fragrance is quite lacking in many climbers (also in many bush sorts). Some of the large-flowered climbers have faint odors, and even some of the tea fragrance may be faintly detected. Again, this may not be a character to be had by direct breeding but it is definitely desirable in a new seedling. The wild parents of most of our hardy climbers, R. Wichuraiana and R. multiflora, have a definite wild-rose fragrance. The other parent was often also fragrant but the progeny frequently is not. Perhaps this is the way in the rose world. One striking exception is the rambler Nokomis, a pink Walsh seedling much like Dorothy Perkins in form and color. In time of bloom it throws forth a powerful wild-rose odor, stronger than that of any species or garden variety. It is noticeable many yards away, having the carrying power of the most fragrant lilacs. Could this odor be carried into its seedlings? Little seed is set of itself but pollen from other roses might induce fruitfulness. Can someone work this project into several seedling generations?
Yellow ramblers are as yet unknown. Large-flowered climbers with yellow flowers are now numerous, particularly in the varieties introduced by Walter Brownell, such as Golden Pyramid, Mrs. Arthur Curtiss James, Golden Glow and Copper Glow; also in such older plants as Gardenia, Aviateur Blèriot or Jacotte. This field is now fairly well developed but a true rambler with deep yellow flowers needs to appear. Why all yellow climbers should take the large size flower is a mystery. Nothing is known of yellow Wichuraiana ramblers, the only candidate being Shower of Gold (G. Paul, 1910), which is rather large for a rambler and no longer offered. The best yellow climber of R. multiflora parentage is Electra, a kind of Tausendschön in pale yellow fading to white. How about using Rosa Hugonis or Harison's Yellow on present ramblers in the hope of getting a deep yellow? Two climbers are known of Austrian Brier parentage, Star of Persia and Le Reve. These are truly yellow, of rambler form and flower cluster, and although hardy, they are poor growers and pine away in a few years. A rambler form of Harison's Yellow would be a climber indeed in this color.
To some of us the usual biennial canes of many climbers are an extra burden in pruning and tying. Each year a crop of oversize asparagus shoots comes forth from the base of the plant looking around for new worlds to conquer. An everblooming character cannot be expected from this biennial growth. Why can't we have tree-like climbers, as are many of the climbing hybrid teas in warm climates? These form a stout trunk in time and make new shoots well up on the plant. For pillars or espaliers on walls, this tree form is better than the biennial type and second bloom could come from short top shoots. Some climbers tend to make a permanent trunk but not the ramblers. Silver Moon and its kind sprout very little from the base but grow on and upward yearly like a wisteria. The nearly lost Mrs. P. F. Prentiss is also a tree in two dimensions (when on a building). Some Brownell yellows, such as Golden Pyramid and Golden Glow, are the rosebush equivalent of Jack's beanstalk, climbing far upward from a permanent trunk. Perhaps they are too bulky for small gardens. Miss Flora Mitten is an ideal tree with almost the bulk of an elm. There are definite values in certain localities to such roses that have no new basal shoots. If these are too large, we have less bulky kinds such as Jacotte, Dr. Huey or Coral Creeper which are pillar roses of restricted yearly growth. We want a bush of hybrid tea bloom raised on a ten-foot trunk, something between a rambler and a standard. What can we do?
Lastly, I desire climbing roses with rather small flowers, each flower on its own stem, not in panicles of fifty or more. The climbing sports of Clotilde Soupert and Cècile Brunner are not hardy in severe winters. We have plenty of big roses; how about a few smaller ones? Could Rouletti and its kin be crossed with present climbers in the hope that recurrence of bloom might carry over? Will someone try that? The smallest of blooms are the little Fairy Roses, a tiny everblooming form in bush of R. multiflora, easily grown from seed but perfectly hardy. Could hybrids be made of these, to climb and bloom all season? Could they be made to produce flowers on solitary stems rather than in clusters, each flower less than an inch across? Surely some combination will give us the Sweetheart size of flowers on tall climbing plants. This is worth a serious attempt.
Certainly these are not too difficult requests to ask of our breeders of roses. When we think of what great changes have been made in the rose goddess in the past century of effort, there are possibilities of many new fields that can yield further beauties if we work <missing>