Journal of Horticulture and Practical Gardening, 11: 375-376 (Oct 29, 1885)
THE COMING RACE OF ROSES.
T. W. G.

If "A. C." will refer to page 82 I think he will hardly consider the report of Etendard de Jeanne d'Arc a very farourable one, and in fact this Rose seems likely to turn out "quality No. 2," for the whole appearance of the plant indicates a recurrence to the Bourbon side of the family, and quality is not the Bourbon's strong point. Deducing a hybrid's origin from its outward characteristics or habit may perhaps be objected to as only presumptive, and therefore inadmissible; but as there are so few records of the origin of Roses (and even those preserved generally give only the seed parent), until the hybridisation of these plants be much more exactly effected and noted, no other method of classifying the bulk of the florists' varieties exists. That the origin of a hybrid may be fairly accurately deduced from the evidence of its exterior is indicated by cases where the exact cross has been recorded. Moreover, it is well known that seedlings raised from a hybrid frequently show a tendency to revert to the form of one of that hybrid's parents. Now it has long been held that Gloire de Dijon originated from the crossing of some Tea-scented Rose by a Bourbon variety. True, there was no yellow Bourbon that could have assisted in the production, but then Gloire de Dijon is only a yellow Rose by courtesy on a north aspect, and the opaque colour (as in Bourbon Queen) that seemed to overlie the yellow in the petals, the flat expanded flowers with the stamens all hidden by the doubled-over petals (as in Souvenir de la Malmaison), and the broad leathery leaves, were deemed sufficiently conclusive evidence. Myriads of seedlings have been raised from Gloire de Dijon, many inclining more to the Tea-scented type, as Belle Lyonnaise, &c, until now comes the white Etendard de Jeanne d'Arc, which at a little distance looks like the ghost of a Souvenir de la Malmaison. This seedling therefore affords an additional indication by reverting to a Bourbon type that the supposition, founded on its external characteristics, of Gloire de Dijon having been a hybrid between a Tea and a Bourbon was well grounded, and this may serve as an argument in favour of reasonable deductions of a similar kind in other cases.

To cite two other well-known varieties from the list of Hybrid Perpetuals in the National Rose Society's illustrated catalogue. La France is a Rose which, with its smooth dark glossy foliage, extreme freedom of flowering, and manner of growth, together with the delicate form and texture of its slightly pendulous blooms, at once recalls the general habit of the Tea-scented varieties, and we have M. Guillot's word for it that its seed parent was a Tea. While M. Lacharme's statement that Captain Christy resulted from a cross between Victor Verdier and Safrano may be readily credited from the outward appearance of this beautiful and worthily named Hybrid Tea—a term, by the way, that seems greatly to exercise some people's minds; for at a certain Rose show this year a medal for the best Hybrid Perpetual in the exhibition was awarded to a bloom of Lady Mary Fitzwilliam, a Rose in many ways resembling Captain Christy, and especially so in being of similar origin, for its raiser (Mr. Bennett) states that it resulted from a cross between Victor Verdier and Devoniensis. The judgment, however, was subsequently reversed, on the alleged ground that Lady Mary Fitzwilliam was not a Hybrid Perpetual. The question immediately arose, What is a Hybrid Perpetual? Is it a hybrid that flowers a second time in autumn? Clearly not, if Lady Mary be not one, for the second flowering of that Rose is as free as its first. Is it a hybrid in which there is no Tea blood? Certainly not; for in the National Rose Society's catalogue the best known Hybrid Teas, La France and Captain Christy, are classed as Hybrid Perpetuals, as they always have been since the date of their introduction. It would seem, therefore, that Lady Mary Fitzwilliam has been held to be not a Hybrid Perpetual, either because it flowers freely again during the autumn, or else because it is of similar race and origin to several other well-known Hybrid Perpetuals. Canon Hole might apparently have added another abstruse appellation to the amusing list on page 183 of his "Book about Roses." The National Rose Society did their best to uphold the cause of common sense by awarding the silver medal for the best Hybrid Perpetual in their Northern Show at Manchester to a bloom of Lady Mary Fitzwilliam, and no doubt the required definition will soon be forthcoming to remove the possibility of future heartburnings over such confusion as to the meaning of terms.

Now if the parents of a hybrid may be fairly accurately judged from its outward appearance, so it may also be surmised, though not with nearly so much certainty, what would be the result of any given cross. We already have varieties with perfect flowers in almost every shade of colour, and the demand that raisers in future will have to supply before Rose-growing will become as universal as it ought to be will be for varieties of equal beauty and much more vigorous habit of growth and more certain perpetuity of flowering—a quality which in a Rose of mixed race may be considered for the moment while "awaiting further instructions" to constitute a Hybrid Perpetual. Thus Louis Van Houtte and Marie Baumann, two perfect Roses when doing well, are in many localities but poor growers, and often die out after two or three years. Why should not some vigorous autumnals be fertilised by these more beautiful Roses, with a view to obtaining seedlings that shall unite in their strength and beauty the best points of their parents? It is with this view that rosarians should not be in haste to condemn such varieties as Madame Isaac Pereire to whom, even though expressions of contempt may sometimes cause her to glare green-eyed with jealousy upon her more beautiful sisters, a rough exterior will be readily forgiven if she shall become a mother of giant heroes. In the same way Gloire Lyonnaise must not be at once discarded because it is not perfectly full, for it is distinct and very vigorous, and the thin Roses are the best seed-bearers. So let it be fertilised with all sorts of other varieties, and see if it will not give us seedlings worthy of the raiser of La France. For it cannot be expected that a race of faultless Roses shall spring up all of a sudden, and for a long time advantage must be taken of any valuable characteristic that any variety may possess. Thus at first there will be vigorous growers with fine flowers, but, subject to mildew, or not autumnal, good autumnals resisting mildew, but with flowers perhaps dull in colour or faulty in shape, and so on. There are already at any rate two Roses, George Baker and Mrs. George Dickson, that seem to have a wonderful power of resisting mildew, and additional encouragement to persevere in attempting to perpetuate this characteristic should be found in the success which has attended the efforts to raise seedling Potatoes capable of resisting disease. In the meantime rosarians must be content to wear their Roses "with a difference," and should be alive to the necessity of opposing a tendency to consider only the floral distinction without regard to main device displayed when criticising a cadet of the Rose family.

It was hoped that a beginning in really vigorous Hybrid Perpetuals had been made by Madame Gabriel Luizet; but unfortunately that vigorous and free-flowering variety seems to have been obtained by means of some summer Rose, so that it is a victim to mildew, and is very chary of its flowers in autumn. Lady of the Lake seems to have the vigour, but not the perpetual blooming. Perhaps Her Majesty will prove the paragon of all the virtues that her title implies.

But evidently these are the points to strive for in future in raising Roses—vigour of growth, perpetual bloom, and freedom from mildew; and let it be hoped that the lull in the rush of novelties alluded to by " A. C." may be owing to the growing conviction in the minds of raisers of the necessity of these qualities. It is quite possible that there may be shades of colour between which yet another may stand and be held distinct, but if there be not vigour no progress is being made. A perfect bloom of Mrs. Laxton, Constantine Tretiakoff, or Olliver Delhomme is as lovely as may be; but there will be deaths among such varieties every year, and it is this kind of Rose with no constitution that disheartens would-be growers who have not the time to give to their gardens which more fortunate enthusiasts manage to afford. And therefore it is important, without carping too critically at the imperfections of really vigorous Perpetuals of strong constitution, but noting their good qualities, to try and obtain from them such varieties that those who most need them, working hard elsewhere than in gardens, may in their brief leisure be refreshed during summer by first-rate Roses, which shall be there again to welcome them on their return home in September after their August holiday.— T. W. G.