Rose Breeding at the Horticultural Division,
Central Experimental Farm, Ottawa
By ISABELLA PRESTON,
Central Experimental Farm Ottawa
|Rugosa x Persian Yellow. Produced at the Central Experimental Farm, Ottawa, by the late Dr. Wm. Saunders.|
It is good news that Miss Preston is taking up the work of rose-breeding again, after so many years having passed since the late Dr. Wm. Saunders first commenced it in Ottawa. Miss Preston has promised to keep us informed as to her work.—ED.
There is a great need in Canada for more varieties of roses that can be grown easily in all sections, and particularly for some that will be hardy in the colder districts of the country. We need climbers with a long season of bloom that will not winter-kill, but can be left over the arches and pergolas all the year. and in a few seasons cover the supports with masses of bloom like they do in the Old Country. Hybrid Teas that will keep their color under the hot, dry conditions of our summers also are lacking.
What we are trying to do at the Horticultural Division of the Central Experimental Farm. Ottawa, and what I trust will be an easier problem than those I have mentioned, is to cross Rosa species and so get new varieties of ornamental shrubs, rather than a rose bush such as one generally sees. Many species are hardy at the Experimental Farm and are very ornamental in flower, foliage and fruit, as well as being practically immune from diseases and insect pests. The blooms are all single and frequently small, but by careful crosses we hope to combine the large blooms of rugosa or microphylla with the beautiful dark red foliage of rubrifolia without losing any of the hardiness or disease resistance of the parents. The tall-growing species may give us something to take the place of Wichuriana and multifora hybrids for pillars and pergolas.
The first rose breeding at the Experimental Farm was done by the late Dr. Wm. Saunders, about twenty-five years ago. He made several crosses with rugosa, three of which we still have. The best of the three, and I suppose one of the finest rugosa hybrids ever produced, is called "Agnes," Persian Yellow being the male, parent. The habit of the plant, the texture and color of the leaves, resemble the mother parent. The flower is double and pale amber in color. The form in the bud is good, but poor in the fully open bloom. It is fragrant and blooms very early. "Grace," a hybrid of rugosa and Harrisonii, has much more red in the color of the blooms, which are poor in shape and bud. It is not such a strong grower as "Agnes" and the foliage resembles the male parent. Unfortunately neither of these plants can be used for breeding, as they are apparently quite sterile. "Mary Arnott"—rugosa x Prince Camille de Rohann, is brilliant crimson in color, semi-double and fragrant.
Nothing further was done in rose breeding until 1920, when a start was made again by crossing rugosa with different species. Many of the 1920 seeds have not germinated and we are hoping that some of them will do so next year, as they frequently lie dormant several seasons.
The actual crosses made, that germinated, are as follows:
|Rosa rugosa||x R. rubrifolia.|
|" "||x R. Picta.|
|" "||x lutea.|
|" " (hybrid double white)||x R. Spinossissima.|
|Harrisonii||x R. Spinossissima.|
|Rubrifolia||x R. rugosa.|
|Seedling of microphylla||x H. T. Gruss an Teplitz.|
|Harrisonii, open fertilized.|
We have over seventy of the rugosa x rubrifolia seedlings and the red color of the pollen parent is very noticeable in all except one of them. Those of the reciprocal cross show distinct signs of their hybrid origin also. We sowed a number of open fertilized seeds of polyantha pom-poms, wichuriana and multiflora hybrids. Many of the seedlings bloomed this season and some will probably be worth propagating.
Many of the old-fashioned types of roses are hardy at Ottawa, so this season we used two forms of Damask Rose in our crosses and have seeds of them crossed with rugosa, hybrid teas and wichuriana hybrids. Polyantha pom poms were hand-fertilized, hoping to combine their good qualities of hardiness and ever-blooming with bush and climbing forms. We sowed all the open fertilized seed of Harrisonii that we could find in order to get some other varieties of this beautiful rose.
A new rose cannot be made in a day, but we hope to live long enough to produce a rose as good in its place as Marquis Wheat and Melba Apples are in their.