American Rose Annual 28: 103-105 (1943)
This Matter of Regional Adaptation
Maurice H. Merrill
Norman, OK

EDITOR'S NOTE.—Here is a suggestion pregnant with great good to the average rose-lover who wants to play safe, at least at first. It points strongly to the universality of the rose—for every variety has been "tops" somewhere or it would never have been introduced. The Editor could tell a long, long story of the various "best" roses he has been introduced to from Maine to California, from Canada to Texas! All the stories were true and the good folk who told them were honest. But the Montana success might easily be the Pennsylvania failure. Rose-growing is the finest plant adventure. So find your own rose friends by acquaintance!

OF ALL the excellent fare in the 1942 Annual, the most gratifying to my taste was Dr. Gamble's "Better Roses for All Sections of North America." It impels me to set down, purely by way of moral support for the measures which he advocates, a few rambling observations.

The first relates to winter hardiness. In my garden the Brownell and the Horvath productions, bred for resistance to winter cold in northern latitudes, so far, with the exception of Mabell Stearns, have displayed a susceptibility to severe, and often fatal, winter injury. In contrast, the hardiest, least winter-harmed bushes I have today are Old Blush, a China which is close to a Tea, and a nameless waif I acquired on our farm, where it had been brought by the tenant's wife who found it at a roadside filling station. Federation shows much more damage from this last winter than do three young Marechal Niel plants, not yet fully established. All this leads me to the none-too-profound suggestion that the qualities which make for hardiness in the long, severe northern winters, in which a rosebush can hibernate like a bear, may not facilitate survival in the open winters of the Upper South, particularly our western portion, punctuated with occasional periods of severe weather.

Our roses never really get a chance to sleep for the winter—at most they cat-nap. Hence I am beginning to doubt whether the productions of the folk who are rendering such a great service in the development of sub-zero roses for the North are going to be of any help to us. Apparently we need someone who will be interested in working for hardiness under our conditions.

Another suggestion relates to ways and means of making experience available as to the adaptability of varieties to different sections. Dr. Gamble's proposed rosarium and regional trial-gardens must remain aspirations only for some time to come. It probably is too much to expect that the commercial distributors will advertise their wares on the basis of regional adaptation, though it seems to me that Roy Hennessey is making a good beginning. Dr. Gamble speaks of lists by local rose societies, but obviously there are narrow limits to their effectiveness.

For my own part I have adopted the policy of giving great weight to the "Proof of the Pudding" reports from the upper South, particularly from Oklahoma and surrounding states. Thus, last fall I put in Ninon Vallin and Treasure Island, largely on the basis of President Truex' favorable experience at Tulsa, supplemented as to the latter by good words from other upper Southern growers. Conversely, I have not ordered many intriguingly pictured varieties because my brethren in similar climes reported adversely upon them, though they were praised elsewhere. But "Proof of the Pudding" covers only the newer roses.

Over a period of years we ought to get a cumulative report that would help one judge the probability of success in his section, in the sense of survival and bloom-production, of these varieties to which he was attracted by the pictures and the salesman's oratory. Here is my list, roughly alphabetical with no intention of rating for relative performance, within the groups—

Satisfactory   Unsatisfactory
Ami Quinard, HT Hugh Watson, HP       Federation, LC
Angels Mateu, HT Improved Lafayette, HPol   Edith Nellie Perkins, HT
Antoine Rivoire, HT Lady Ashtown, HT   Imperial Potentate, HT
Captain Christy, HP Luna, HT   Marcia Stanhope, HT
Condesa de Sástago, HT Nuntius Pacelli, HT   Mrs. Charles Bell, HT
David O. Dodd, HT Old Blush, C   Mrs. E. P. Thom, HT
Dr. Eckener, HRug. Paul Neyron.   Mrs. Pierre S. du Pont, HT
Dr. J. H. Nicolas, HP Soeur Therese, HT   Mrs. Sam McGredy, HT
Duquesa de Peñaranda, HT Sterling, HT   New Dawn, LC.
Eclipse, HT W. Freeland Kendrick, HT   President Herbert Hoover, HT
E. G. Hill, HT     Radio, HT
Etoile de Hollande, HT     Signora, HT
F. J. Grootendorst, HRug     Sonia, HT
Frau Karl Druschki, HP     Stargold, HT
Gruss an Aachen, HT-Pol     Texas Centennial, HT
Gloire de Chédane-Guinoisseau, HP     Willowmere, HT

 

Satisfactory. Ami Quinard, HT.; Angels Mateu, HT.; Antoine Rivoire, HT.; Captain Christy, HP.; Condesa de Sástago, HT.; David O. Dodd, HT.; Dr. Eckener, HRug.; Dr. J. H. Nicolas, HP.; Duquesa de Peñaranda, HT.; Eclipse, HT.; E. G. Hill, HT.; Etoile de Hollande, HT.; F. J. Grootendorst, HRug.; Frau Karl Druschki, HP.; Gruss an Aachen, HT.-Pol.; Gloire de Chédane - Guinoisseau, HP.; Hugh Watson, HP.; Improved Lafayette, HPol.; Lady Ashtown, HT.; Luna, HT.; Nuntius Pacelli, HT.; Old Blush, C.; Paul Neyron.; Soeur Therese, HT.; Sterling, HT.; W. Freeland Kendrick, HT.

Unsatisfactory. Federation, LC.; Edith Nellie Perkins, HT.; Imperial Potentate, HT.; Marcia Stanhope, HT.; Mrs. Charles Bell, HT.; Mrs. E. P. Thom, HT.; Mrs. Pierre S. du Pont, HT.; Mrs. Sam McGredy, HT.; New Dawn, LC.; President Herbert Hoover, HT.; Radio, HT.; Signora, HT.; Sonia, HT.; Stargold, HT.; Texas Centennial, HT.; Willowmere, HT.