Rose Annual pp. 70-75 (1979)
Development of the Floribunda
NIELS DINES POULSEN
Rose-breeder and Grower Kvistgaard, Denmark
THE GERMAN botanist and author of many books of dendrology, etc. — Gerd Krussmann — states in his outstanding book "Rosen-Rosen-Rosen" that the well known rose "Gruss an Aachen" (Geduldig 1908/9) should be the first floribunda rose.
I am not convinced about this as all the ancestors of "Gruss an Aachen" are hybrid perpetuals and hybrid teas, except for an unknown in the background which might be a polyantha. In my opinion, the true forerunner of the floribundas is "Little Red Riding Hood" —1911 (Rodhaette). It was raised by my late uncle "Dines" who worked a couple of years in his young days for Peter Lambert in Germany and got a lot of inspirations from this great rose hybridizer. This variety is still in commerce in Scandinavia — believe it or not. There seems to be a kind of gap between 1911 and 1924, as only a few floribundas were introduced and described. The best known and still worth growing is "Mewrouw Nathalie Nypels" (Leenders 1919).
The credit for this new class of roses has been given to my father — Svend Poulsen — with his introductions in 1924 of "Else Poulsen" and "Kirsten Poulsen", sister seedlings from a cross between "Orleans Rose", a polyantha, and "Red Star", a hybrid tea. They both were very hardy varieties and thousands of bushes from that time are still growing well in Danish gardens. My father was quite disappointed that neither of his two "children" got any official medals but he was very pleased to know how many ribbons and medals were won by amateurs at rose exhibitions and how many of both varieties were grown in large quantities all over the world.
At the beginning, this new type of rose was classified as "Hybrid Polyantha" which gave it a "drawback" from a selling point of view, especially in the U.S.A. In 1930 Dr. Nicholas from Jackson & Perkins named the new class "Floribunda" which was accepted by the American rose-growers, but it took several years before this new classification was accepted by the various rose societies.
Up to the thirties, only a few new floribundas raised from seedlings were introduced. Many sports (mutations), good and bad, saw the light of day, and quite a few came from Joseph Guy (Lafayette — 1924). In 1930, we introduced "D.T. Poulsen", named after my grandfather — a bright blood-red floribunda, with double flowers. In those days, it was an outstanding rose and it took a couple of years before it was surpassed. When W. Kordes, in 1933, brought his "Fortschritt" (Progress) on the market — a beautiful floribunda, with semi-double, yellow-pink flowers in clusters, it was indeed progress and afterwards, he wrote in "The American Rose Annual":
"The Poulsen class of hybrid polyanthas will, in a few years, sweep the hybrid tea out of its position in gardens and parks".
Well, in some ways, Wilhelm Kordes was right and in the coming years, the percentage of floribundas grown and sold increased quite a bit.
My father's next scoop was "Karen Poulsen" (1933) which got a gold medal in the NRS. Very soon it got competition from Prior in England, with the introduction in 1935 of two outstanding floribundas, "Betty Prior" and "Donald Prior". From then on, floribundas were raised in quantities although not all of them were quality roses nor long-lasting.
I remember that my father often told me it was his dream to raise a yellow floribunda. He succeeded in 1938 when he introduced a true yellow — "Poulsen's Yellow". It came from a cross of "Mrs. W.H. Cutbush x "Gottfried Keller", and it got a gold medal in the NRS. Many years later, Sam McGredy followed up this success with his "Yellowhammer" which also was awarded a gold medal at the NRS. In between, we had "Goldilocks" raised by Gene Boerner, for many years an outstanding yellow, but in 1956, the late Edward Le Grice introduced his "Allgold" which was and still is the biggest seller of all yellow floribundas. From a cross between "Columbine" and "Claire Grammersdorf", I introduced a tall growing floribunda in 1963 by the name of "Chinatown". It also got a gold medal in the NRS. With Rosa rubiginosa in its background, "Chinatown" is a very vigorous rose. Many rosarians will describe it as a shrub rose and others as a tall growing floribunda. Nevertheless, it is still a very popular rose. Sam tamed the vigor when he used the same blood in "Jan Spek", a compact deep yellow floribunda. A few years ago, Reimer Kordes, also using the same blood, introduced his "Korressia-Friesia" — a real beauty, with nicely shaped flowers of a deep-yellow colour and a very delicious fragrance. "Korresia-Friesia" will stay for many years but I will be amazed if some breeder in the future does not bring an improved "Korresia-Friesia" on the market.
Wilhelm Kordes gave a new "break" to the floribunda class by introducing "Baby Chateau" in 1936. It was not a typical floribunda, but the double, dark carmine-red flowers were different to other floribundas and, last but not least, it has given blood to many of the roses of today, such as H.T. "Baccara", Fl. "Independence", Fl. "Tantau's Triumph", and many others.
"Poulsen's Pink" was introduced in 1938 but even it was not a really new floribunda. It got some merit for the double pink flowers shaded with white and for its vigor and hardiness.
The second World War started and many rose-breeders had to slow down or quit their rose-breeding. Just before the real chaos began, W. Kordes introduced in 1940, a beautiful rose which should be of great importance to the floribunda class. Its name was "Pinocchio" (Rosenmarschen). I do not know if W. Kordes followed up his breeding work with "Pinocchio", but the American breeder, Gene Boerner saw the possibilities in this rose and seven years later introduced a brand new colour, which started with "Fashion" (Pinocchio x Crimson Glory) and followed up with "Vogue" and "Spartan". From this strain, Gene Boerner in 1965 raised his "Zorina", an outstanding forcing-rose, which really gave a boost to the cut-flower trade. Reimer Kordes followed it with his "Esther Ofarim" in 1970 and "Marina" in 1974, both forcing-roses grown in quantity.
Just after the war, in 1946, three good red and orange floribundas were introduced. First of all, "Frensham", raised by an amateur called A. Norman — a world rose in those days. Next "Fanal" from Tantau and then "Alain" from Meilland. They all kept for a long time. Red, orange, carmine-red, ox-blood red, etc. had been the favourite colours in the floribunda class for years. Every breeder had his own strains. Tantau very often used "Baby Chateau" from Kordes, together with his own "blood" from Rosa roxburghii. This resulted in "Red Favourite" in 1954 and ended up in the biggest scoop after "Peace" "Super Star" ("Tropicana"). Kordes also used "Baby Chateau" but very often with his own strain going back to R. eglanteria magnfica. From this complex, he raised "Ama", "Korona", "Liii Marlene", all well-known and appreciated varieties. Meilland used a fresh strain and combined it with "Orange Triumph" from Kordes and raised "Alain", "Moulin Rouge", "Cocorico" and "Sarabande". G. De Ruiter from Holland made his scoop in 1963 with "Europeana" — his own strains combined twice with "Anne-Mette Poulsen".
It is natural that breeders all over are using the "blood" from other breeders. A few years ago, Tantau introduced a cross from "Europeana" and named it "Royal Occasion — Montana", a variety which might in a few years take over from "Europeana". Verschuren of Holland made the same use of "Europeana" and raised two good varieties, "Prince Willem Alexander" and "Amsterdam". Sam McGredy raised a gold medal winner "Evelyn Fison" ("Irish Wonder") from "Moulin Rouge" and "Korona". We ourselves raised one of the most popular red floribundas in Scandinavia, "Nina Weibull" by using "Fanal" and an American variety.
Looking through my testfields year after year, where our own new red/ orange floribundas grow side by side with similar colours from other growers, we discuss again and again, "Will there be room for another red/ orange floribunda?". But however it goes, there is always a better one "in between the pot". Sam's "Trumpeter" is better than his "Satchmo", "Royal Occasion" better than "Europeana" and so on. There will never be an end.
The multicolours are only a small group within the floribunda class. Gene Boerner brought out the first, the sensational "Masquerade" (1950). It was raised from a cross of "Goldilocks" and "Holiday" which have a background from "Pinocchio". Unfortunately, "Masquerade" was infected with virus, so that after a few years of growing, we had to stop production. It was quickly followed by "Circus" (Swim 1955) and unfortunately, this outstanding variety was also infected with virus. In 1959, we introduced "Rumba", a cross of "Poulsen's Bedder" and "Masquerade". It was a new break in type and colour and is still very popular. Meilland brought his "Charleston" on the market in 1963, also with a background from "Masquerade".
The same year Dickson introduced his "Paint Box", a good clean rose. I also have to mention "Columbine" raised by my father in 1956. It was a cross from "Danish Gold" and "Frensham" and in my opinion, a new type of floribunda, a good grower, with fragrant double flowers, like a mini "Peace". It received a gold medal in the NRS. Even though we used "Columbine" to raise thousands of seedlings, we only had one success, "Chinatown". Sam McGredy had more luck using "Columbine" and in his "Handel" and a few other hybrid teas, you can recognize the characteristics of this rose. White floribundas are rare, maybe because they do not sell so well as other colours. I remember one of the first was "Dagmar Spath", which was a sport of "Joseph Guy" (Layfayette). Very often the flowers were half red, half white or striped. In 1949 we introduced "Irene of Denmark", a compact plant covered with small double flowers, pure white when fully open. It came from a funny cross of "Orleans Rose x (Mme. Plantier x Edina) and was absolutely sterile. "Schneewittchen" (Iceberg) from Kordes was introduced in 1958 and became the most popular and most sold of all white roses and will stay that way for many years. "Ivory Fashion" was raised by Gene Boerner and introduced the same year but in Europe it never became popular. More white floribundas will of course be raised in coming years, but they must be outstanding to find their way into the gardens.
The lavender colour in the floribunda class started when Gene Boerner used "Grey Pearl" (McGredy 1945) as a pollen plant to his "Pinocchio". The result was "Lavendar Pinocchio", a sensational rose in those days. The late Edward Le Grice became interested in this colour and raised several good lilac floribundas such as "Lilac Charm" (1961), "Overture" (1960) and, not to forget one of his latest, "News". We all hope that his strains of this special colour will be kept.
A big group in the floribunda class are the pinks, covering pale pinks, deep pinks, salmon pinks, coral pinks, etc. Many of these various colours trace their origin to "Fashion". "Ma Perkins" is one of them. It was raised by Gene Boerner in 1952. Sam McGredy brought out his "Chanelle" in 1959, a cross from "Ma Perkins". One of my first roses was "Pernille Poulsen" and is still my favourite. Sam told me to use "Ma Perkins" in my breeding work and I followed his advice and got "Pernille". A real break in the colour without losing the characteristics of a floribunda. There are hundreds of them, good and semi-good so let me finish by naming three which I think are the best — "Paddy McGredy" (1961), "Sea Pearl" (Dickson 1964) and "Korp-Prominent" (Kordes).
To bring in new blood from other species for breeding and develop something good out of it normally takes a generation. With "Picasso", the "handpainted rose", Sam created an absolutely new type of floribunda. It was the start and a difficult start in some ways. "Picasso" did not seem to appeal to the customers but the next introduction from Sam, with the same blood, was "Matangi" and this is an outstandingly appealing rose and a beautiful bedding variety.
We will hear much more from this "line" with its background of Rosa pimpinellifolia "Altaica".
Jack Harkness has a good eye for rose-breeding and with his "Yesterday" raised from "Ballerina", later followed by "Escapade" and last but not least "Marjorie Fair", he has started a new series of floribunda. At least, in Denmark we name this type floribunda but in England, they call them Shrubs. I hope we will hear more from Jack.
Will the breeder still be able to develop floribundas? In my opinion, a loud "Yes". From the more or less old-fashioned "Poulsen-strain" to the modern floribunda-type, there is a big difference in growth, colour, fragrance and vigor. Will there still be room for the original type where the flowers are borne in big clusters? My answer is still "Yes". If the breeders can bring in better colours, better flower shapes, as well as fragrance, this type will go on forever. With one of our latest creations called "Korrigan", I think we have taken another step forward. To raise "Korrigan", we started all over again from the beginning with the "Orleans Rose", and after a few generations using modern floribundas as pollen plants, we finally used "Eden Rose" as father and got a very fragrant floribunda.
"Dolly" from 1975 is another example of a modern floribunda still wearing its flowers in big clusters. A modern floribunda with nice double, deep-pink flowers, it won a gold medal this Summer in the trials in Orleans in France.