American Florist :
164-165 (Aug. 20, 1904)
Development of American Type of Roses
E. G. HILL,
By the question implied in the topic assigned me by the executive committee of this society, we may infer that there is need of largely supplementing our present list of roses as grown in this country; nothing can be truer than that the general rose grower feels this need, and it is to the careful hybridist, and the persevering raiser of seedling roses, suited to our climate that we must look for this supplemental list.
We need roses that will bloom in our grounds and gardens during the summer and autumn; climatic conditions vary so greatly in our country that it would seem necessary that several types should be brought out, adapted to the varied conditions and requirements of the different sections. It maybe remarked in passing that California and the Pacific coast states have an ample source of supply for all practical purposes in the fine productions of the rosarians of England and the continent of Europe; the varieties that succeed and flourish in the sections named do remarkably well also in the south Atlantic and Gulf states, hence an effort to originate a new type for these particular localities, would seem an unnecessary undertaking, although there can and will be improvements over such sorts as now lend charm and beauty to the homes and gardens of the sections named above, and some fine additions have been made the past few years but it will he a long time before such grand old sorts as Opshire [Ophirée?], Lamarque, Solfaterre, Reine, Marie Henriette, and Mme. Alfred Carriere are supplanted as climbers in the Pacific section to say nothing of the large number of grand bush varieties which flourish with such vigor and produce such quantities of flowers. The European rose hybridist assisted by a kind Providence, has placed at the disposal of the states of Washington and Oregon all that could be wished or desired in the way of fine roses; no section of Europe produces finer H.P. and H.T. roses than do these two states. If you would see Xavier Olibo, Louis Van Houtte, Ulrich Brunner, and other choicest H.P. sorts together with a sight of the finest La Prance that soil can produce, then go to the Lewis and Clark Exposition a year hence in Portland, Ore. I am sure that you will not be disappointed.
That we need a new type of rose for the section north of Virginia and Tennessee, calls for no argument whatever. One of the first requirements of the type is a vigor of constitution that will withstand the ravages of black-spot, or fungus which is the first cause of a failure in our efforts to grow roses successfully in the northern section of our country. A few varieties succeed, but only a very few thrive and bloom as they should; there are a limited number of favored localities where roses will do well in the north, but they are few and very far between.
The second requirement is a resistant texture of bloom, stronger than that possessed by most of the H. P. and H.T. and tea roses. It is well settled in your essayist's mind that the two qualities mentioned above are absolutely necessary to the new type that we are seeking, if it is to be of sterling value, and with these two must be united the third quality, a hardiness which will take it uninjured through our rigorous winters.
How shall we proceed in order to secure a disease resisting rose, with substantial texture of petals in its flowers, that shall withstand the fierce onslaught of the sun in our hot, dry, climate and possessing a degree of hardiness that will insure life through our severe winters? This is the problem before us. At first glance, it would seem an impossible undertaking, for where shall we turn for the blood to so reinvigorate our standard roses, and who among us will undertake to devote time and service and brain to an undertaking or such doubtful remuneration and yet so laudable? Or will the lovers of roses continue to be satisfied with the partial success achieved by using the present varieties, and by various expedients producing a more or less artificial result, not at all adequate to the expense and labor bestowed?
There are a number of distinct species of roses that should and no doubt will he tried for this particular line of hybridizing; first I would name Rosa rugosa. Whilst this species might not give us texture of bloom, there could be no doubt but that its offspring would have disease resisting foliage, and a probability of hardiness sufficient to withstand our winters; this should be tried persistently, using pollen from our best H.T., H.P. and tea varieties and using the rugosa as the seed-bearing plant, and whilst it would probably require a long line of crossing and crossing back, I have little doubt but that from this source can finally be secured our coveted type which would supply our northern gardens with an ideal rose.
Bruant, Cochet, Muller, Wintzer, and others have made a start in this direction; we have Bruant's cross between rugosa and Niphetos, named Mme. Georges Bruant; this variety has the lengthened bud of Niphetos showing distinctly the influence of the tea variety. Blanc Double de Courbet is a charming shrub for lawn decoration, and a most promising subject for cross-fertilization; Conrad P. Meyer is a variety which has had transmitted much of the fullness and color of the male parent which is said to be Gloire de Dijon. Atropurpurea, one of Geo. Paul's hybrid rugosas, will furnish the dark tints in any color scheme devised or planned. Sir Thos. Lipton, an American hybrid introduced by Conard & Jones, is said to possess many excellent characteristics. I mention the above, believing them to be the most useful of the rugosa hybrids and having made most distinct breaks from rugosa proper. Other rugosa hybrids are,—Philemon Cochet, Alice Aldrich, Belle Poitevine, Mme. Worth, Calocarpa, Rose Apples, Chedane Guinnoisseau, Christopher Cochet, and Pierre Leperdrieux, and these are not all; they are enumerated to show what has been done with this type, and as a reminder that the hybridist need not go hack to the original, but can use some of the fine breaks already made.
I wish to reiterate the previous statement, that I firmly believe that immunity from the disease known as "black-spot," must come through an infusion of rugosa blood, and I would further state that your essayist is not speaking from practical experience in the matter of crossing the present popular varieties of roses with the rugosas, as his efforts have been more largely made in trying to secure new sorts suitable for forcing under glass. Other species of roses may offer as fruitful a field for the hybridist as the rugosa and why not try what can be done with our native American species? The climbing Prairie types were secured from this source, and they certainly possess hardiness in connection with a fair amount of fullness, two distinct qualities essential to the new type.
American hybridists have given us many charming Wichuraiana crosses and fine results have crowned the efforts of Messrs. Van Fleet, Manda, Walsh, Perkins and Dawson; the serious question, often propounded is, are they hardy? Sometimes they winter perfectly, and again an occasional season finds them killed hack severely; your essayist has not had long enough experience with out-door grown stock of Dorothy Perkins, the Farquhar, W. C. Egan, Manda's Triumph, and other Wichuraiana crosses, to speak with certainty as to their hardiness, but he believes that it is affirmed of them by their raisers.
Crimson Rambler is at once the most unique and the most satisfactory rose grown in the northern half of our country; no other rose can dispute with it the right to a first place in general popularity with the American people, for porch and pillar purposes, the wide dissemination of the rose, its tremendous sale the present season, and the prospective demand for future planting, exceeds that of any other rose introduced into the American garden. Experiments at Richmond with this variety tend to strengthen the opinion that a few years will give us white, blush, and intermediate shades in this particularly interesting rose; to be sure, we have had Aglaia, Thalia, and Euphrosyne, but between these and Turner's Crimson Rambler, there is a wide difference of character.
To secure the new type of garden rose outlined, will necessitate careful, painstaking labor, extending over a long period of time; one year or two will not bring it to us; it has taken a full third of a century to bring the Hybrid Tea to its present stage of developement; it is a long stride from Antoine Verdier, Mlle. Bonnaire, and La France, to the family as it is composed today; it might be mentioned in passing that the three varieties named above were the result of accidental insect pollenization; the evolution of the H.T. class is mentioned simply to show that time and patience are prime factors in creating and perfecting a new type.
We, the members of this society, might earnestly question as to how we can best aid in a consumation so earnestly desired, so necessary to the widening popularity of the rose in our American gardens; enthusiastic, personal effort must be the ground work of the movement, which may be encouraged by the award of the society's medal to meritorious seedlings whose constitution and texture of bloom make them desirable additions to our outdoor roses. As indicated previously the efforts at Richmond have all been made in the interest of winter blooming sorts, and while this has been the aim, several very promising varieties, other than forcing sorts, have been produced which are now being tested as garden varieties.
The florists of America have been notoriously lax as a profession, in their efforts to improve the roses, nearly all our finest varieties being of foreign origin, and while we may rightly covet the honor of producing something fine and grand, we have been exceedingly blameworthy in sanctioning the act which robbed an eminent French rosarian of his honors when we allowed the renaming of Mme. Ferdinand Jamain, calling it American Beauty. We have the genius and talent to produce an American type of rose if our members will but apply themselves to the task at hand. Shall we attempt this work, or shall we go on in the old way, trusting to luck and to the products of foreign skill to supply us with roses suitable for our own gardens and homes?