(Scanned by Billy West)
The Australian Rose Annual 1930 pp52-5
THE IMPROVEMENT OF ROSES BY BUD SELECTION
And Its Relation to "Sports."

By GEO. KNIGHT, Homebush, N.S.W.

TO learn more about the improvement of roses and to try to discover means by which it can be achieved, is one of the most interesting and progressive works that members of our societies may be engaged in, and no matter how little the knowledge gained or how small the advancement, we should all “pass it on.”

As many chances of improvement are lost by the rank and file from lack of knowledge and the opportunity thus allowed to pass, the necessity of learning more about the subject is quite apparent, and with that object in view this article has been written.

Since the fact has been generally accepted that budded roses are superior to those grown on their own roots, more importance should be placed on the matter of bud selection. It is not generally known that by the careful selection of budding wood many varieties of roses, both dwarf and climbing, can be propagated with certainty from the same plant. For instance, from a climbing plant of Pink Maman Cochet, Kaiserin Augusta Victoria, Perle des Jardins, and many others that in the first place "sported" from the dwarf, by selecting the true climbing wood, the offspring will all be climbers, whilst by selecting the true flowering wood, the offspring will be all dwarf bushes. By reason of this fact, we frequently hear of growers planting climbing roses which have refused to climb. Again, how often do we hear it said that a certain new rose with some is a failure, but with others a marked success. Is it not reasonable to suppose that it is suffering from over propagation, due to the demand for it being heavy and the supply limited, resulting in every bud, good, bad and indifferent, being used? And again, how often do we hear it said that Maman Cochet, Frau Karl Druschki, La France and many other old roses are not as good as they were. This is accounted for by the fact that whilst the demand for newer roses has become more active, the older varieties have been neglected, any old plant being good enough to raise stock from. These old roses are as good to-day as they ever were; all that is required being a careful selection of budding eyes, worked on the right understock, and by that means all these old roses can be brought back to their highest point of perfection.

Mrs. W. J. Grant is a variety that will go back in one season unless the best buds are used.

Have you ever, when looking through your rose bushes, Teas and Hybrid Teas particularly, noticed that on one side of some of the bushes the growth is stronger than on the other, and that on some parts of the plant the blooms are always of better quality, perhaps in colour, perhaps in form, or maybe in both. This is the wood to work on and by selecting budding eyes from those strong, clean branches or from the shoots that carried those good blooms, a large percentage of the young roses will reproduce plants strong and healthy, and will carry blooms similar to those that were on that part of the plant from which the buds were taken, whilst buds taken from the weak side of the bush will have a tendency to grow weaker plants with poor quality blooms. If the very best plants are retained and grown on, and bud selection is systematically practiced from year to year a better strain of many roses can be worked up. Even when wood is taken from the best plants and from the strongest portion of the bush, no bud should be used which is not plump and clean. and it is not advisable to use the two eyes nearest the bloom, as these are often inclined to make stunted plants: it is also most undesirable that budding eyes be taken from poor quality plants, and under no circumstances should wood be used from any plant suffering from die-back, even if affected only in the mildest form, for eventually this disease will re-appear in the plants produced. Die-back is the most dreaded of all diseases known in the rose world, for which there is no known cure, and once in the soil it cannot be eradicated. The only possible course to adopt is to remove the old soil entirely and replace it with virgin soil.

Regarding full blooded Pernetiana roses, I am of the opinion that these cannot be improved by bud selection, except in very few instances, because of their inherent constitutional weakness and susceptibility to black spot and other diseases. Most varieties in this class are short lived, and for the reasons stated it is essential that the selection of buds on the lines indicated should be rigorously observed so that only the very best plants are raised and the best possible results obtained during their comparative short period of usefulness. Bud selection has played a very important part in regard to Sports and in America it is practiced extensively, not only in the rose world, but rather more amongst citrus fruits. From the variety Columbia growers obtained Silver Columbia, New Columbia, Briarcliff, Rose Hill and Scott's Columbia. These are called “sports”, but in reality all of them are only slight variations of the original Columbia. The Bride, Bridesmaid and Muriel Grahame are “sports” from Catherine Mermet, Mdlle. Augustine Guinnoisseau from La France; Red Radiance and Mrs. Chas Bell from Radiance, and they were all obtained in the first instance by some keen observer noticing the different coloured blooms, and by selecting budding eyes from the stem that carried it the variety was eventually fixed. Sometimes a rose will “sport” a bloom of an entirely different colour to its true character, which is the signal to watch it closely, and as soon as the stem that carried the bloom is ripe enough, every bud should be taken and worked on good stocks. Some of the young plants may reproduce similar blooms or they may all revert to the original variety, but should any of them prove distinct and the variety is considered worth while, no time should be lost in following it up and selecting budding eyes from the young plant giving blooms which are the most distinct from the parent.

It may be that some of the plants will produce blooms of both the “sport” and the original, in which case it should be discarded, as it would be difficult to fix the variety.

The relation of bud selection to new climbing roses is of the greatest importance. I believe that almost every dwarf rose that has been in existence for five years or more could have been reproduced in the climbing form if growers understood this question better and were aware of the value of certain wood produced on their plants which would have given the lead up. Unfortunately, through lack of knowledge, many valuable growths have been lost in the pruning, as nearly happened to Climbing White Maman Cochet over twenty years ago. At an exhibition held by the Liberty Plain, New South Wales, Horticultural Society, I was acting as a judge with three others, and whilst we were at work some of the amateur exhibitors, to pass away the time, were walking through the Rookwood Cemetery, when they saw a rose plant growing on a grave, which some thought looked like The Bride and others White Maman Cochet, but it showed a climbing tendency, and as at that time there were no climbers of either of those varieties, they were much puzzled as to its identity. They therefore brought back with them flowers and pieces of wood, which were distributed amongst the judges, two of whom ridiculed the idea of its being a climbing White Maman Cochet. They all however, accepted pieces of the wood, and two promptly forgot about it until some time later they came upon it dead in their pockets. The other judge and myself budded our wood, and the resulting plants turned out to be true climbers of White Maman Cochet. Shortly after this incident the original plant was cut back and never climbed again.

A dwarf rose will sometimes, for some unaccountable reason, “sport” a climbing shoot, and in two generations it is fixed. There is, however, another method of assisting nature, for when a “blind” shoot appears, i.e., one that fails to bloom and it has the appearance that it may possibly climb, it is worth persevering with, if the variety is a good one. As evidence of this, I might give my personal experience. About the year 1910, deep yellow roses were scarce. I set about trying to work up a strong strain of Georges Schwartz. All the best buds were collected and worked on good stocks, and the next year the best plants were retained and selected buds taken from them. This was practiced for five years, and the variety improved in growth, but there appeared on one pant a growth different to all the others. It was very hard wooded, the leaf eyes were set very closely together, and it was inclined to curl and twist. It grew about eighteen inches, but failed to bloom. These buds were worked in a patch by themselves, and some of the young plants produced the same character in a more marked degree, so the buds from these were worked and the result was that a large percentage turned out climbers. I later on observed similar wood on the old variety Homere, and by way of experiment, worked the buds, and in two years some of them turned out climbers. Similarly, about three years ago, I noticed wood on a plant of Shot Silk, which I thought may possibly work into climbers, and knowing the great value of climbers of this variety, I persevered with it. All likely wood was propagated and the strain greatly improved, the plants growing more vigorous climbers, with the result that the climbing form of Shot Silk is now definitely fixed. It should always be remembered that to obtain the best results, the work should be carried out in conjunction with good stocks and soil suitable to rose culture.

There is still room for good climbers of varieties such as Rev. F. Page Roberts, Etoile de Hollande, and Dame Edith Helen, and if these were obtained they would be a valuable addition to our free blooming climbers.

I advise growers to watch their roses closely, particularly in the Autumn, as it is generally at that season that the wood I have referred to appears, but which, unfortunately, by the unobservant, is usually cut out and lost in the pruning.