American Rose Annual, 34: 147-149 (1949)
New Varieties for the Extreme North
PERCY H. WRIGHT
Moose Range, Saskatchewan, Canada
EDITOR's NOTE.—It takes much patience and perseverance to be a rose breeder, and I sometimes wonder if we realize how much effort has gone into a new variety before it reaches our gardens.
THE summers of 1947 and 1948 saw the appearance in my plantations of seedling roses of a number of hybrids that are likely to become popular in northerly areas where hardiness is all-important.
Vera Joyce is the result of the pollination of my Mary L. Evans rose (Hansa X R. Macouni) by Betty Bland. When I made this cross, I did not think that it was likely to result in anything of value. I had made the direct cross of Hansa with Betty Bland numerous times, and always with unfortunate results. However, one never knows what will come out of a given cross, and evidently it pays to make crosses that appear to have little promise at the time. To do so will yield valuable knowledge of the ways of heredity, even if no new world-beater appears.
Vera Joyce suggests Betty Bland in flower but is distinctly larger, which would be expected, and its general color is a little paler. The center petals are a good shade of salmon-pink, and the flower is "perfectly delicious," as one observer put it, as it opens. Betty Bland also has a heart of deeper pink, but the difference between the outer and the inner petals is greater in Vera Joyce, and my first noting of the tint of salmon in the pink was a distinct and pleasing surprise. The plant is thorny, like its mother parent, and not as erect as Blanda hybrids usually are. A few flowers are produced in autumn.
Helen Bland is a Betty Bland hybrid, and the mother plant is a strain of R. blanda from St. Hilaire, Quebec, which is completely free of thorns. Betty Bland itself is not very thorny, and most of the sister sorts from this cross approached thornlessness. Helen Bland is completely thornless, and the flowers are somewhat larger than those of Betty Bland, but otherwise identical. Complete thornlessness is an attractive feature in any rose.
Ever since 1935 I have been placing upon the Altai rose, R. spinosissima altaica, pollen taken from the famous old yellow brier, Harison's Yellow, and have produced many thousands of seeds. Their germination has been so poor, however, that I have got fewer than 100 plants in all from this cross. My purpose in making the cross was to secure a yellow rose that would be hardy in our extreme north. Harison's Yellow itself kills to the snow line every winter in my area, although it is of nearly satisfactory hardiness for the southern parts of the Canadian prairies.
Among the seedlings I got from this cross were several of the same doubleness as Harison's Yellow, and with a larger flower. Some of these are extremely valuable whites, a color that has been rare among our northern roses. Several had a definite tint of yellow in the center of the flower.
Yellow Altai, the result of my crossing R. spinosissima altaica with Harison's Yellow, is a genuine yellow, a tint lighter than Harison's Yellow, about the same depth of color as Double Yellow Scotch. It too is hardy and for a time is sure to fill a niche as the only hardy rose of satisfactory yellowness. I intend to backcross it to Harison's Yellow, hoping to retain sufficient hardiness and increase color and number of petals.
A considerable number of plants resulting from the cross Hansa X R. nitida bloomed for the first time in 1947, and well over half of them produced flowers of a deep and pleasant tint of pink that the people of our country will doubtless consider valuable. This is the cross that gave me the Aylsham rose, described in the 1947 Annual. So far, none of the recent seedlings have had flowers equal to those of Aylsham, which is fuller and of deeper color than the others. This is, in general, a lucky cross. R. nitida, though single and only a species, seems to have the power to draw the best out of Hansa, in both color and form. Hansa is really an extremely untidy rose and has a violet shade that is often objectionable. The seedlings have all produced flowers of good form and with supression of a considerable part of the violet tone. The use of R. nitida in further crosses is indicated.
Last summer the Lac la Nonne rose, received from Georges Bugnet of Lac Majeau, Alberta, who contributed an article on hardy roses to the 1941 American Rose Annual, attained a height of eight feet. This rose has withstood a temperature of 67 degrees F. below zero without protection and without injury. It was the only double rose that was uninjured the winter when that extreme low occurred. Although it is not a climber, and scarcely even a pillar, but rather only a very vigorous bush rose, we may have to be content with it as a pillar rose. Its height is evidently due to heterosis or hybrid vigor, for no climber blood appears on either side of what I presume to be its ancestry. The extraordinary vigor of this R. acicularis hybrid suggests further experimentation with acicularis pollen. The only other cross that has given such heterosis is the one between R. rubrifolia and R. rugosa, which resulted in hybrids that doubled the height of either parent, for both Miss Isabella Preston of Ottawa, Ontario, and the late Dr. T. J. Maney of Ames, Iowa.
Hazeldean is another of the seedlings of R. spinosimima altaica pollinated by Harison's Yellow, but it did not bloom for the first time until June, 1948. It is not so floriferous as either of its parents, or as its sister Yellow Altai, and it blooms later than either. The flowers are larger than those of Harison's Yellow, a feature doubtless inherited from the Altai parent. The color is just slightly paler than Harison's Yellow and the petals are as numerous if not more so. The individual flowers vary considerably in size and form, but all have better form than Harison's Yellow, and the best have buds with a certain amount of the high pointing that we think of as a characteristic of some of the most modern hybrid teas. This variety is, to date, the only rose that is at once double, definitely yellow, and completely hardy in temperatures to 60 degrees F. below zero or lower. It has the fault of allowing the outer petals of the flowers to discolor, and an occasional bloom does not open at all. There is a chance that this variety will supersede Harison's Yellow, even in areas where the latter is satisfactorily hardy, on account of its better form and greater size of flower; and it is almost certain, I would say, to be a valuable parent. It also suggests the value of making the cross many times again that produced it. Something still better might appear from the same parents.