The American Garden 10(6): 218-219 (June 1889)


First Child of Harrison's Yellow and Rosa Rugosa Roses

Rosa rugosa (the Ramanas rose) is one of the very few hardy roses that are perpetual bloomers. It is one of the very few whose vigorous, distinct foliage, if not cared for, will not suffer materially from the many insects which infest roses in general. The leaves are thick, almost leathery, and the surface, instead of being smooth, is covered with tiny wrinkles. The bushes, from June to frost, are covered with flowers of medium size, of a pink color and of five petals. These are followed by heps or fruits of a large size and of a bright red color, which compensate in a measure for the perishable nature of the flowers themselves. The bush is of a sturdy habit and perfectly hardy. We know of bushes, still vigorous, that were planted 20 years ago. There are two varieties of this rose—a white, and the pink of which we are writing. Either variety, according to our best information, comes true from seed.

With such distinct and valuable characteristics, Rosa rugosa was selected by E. S. Carman, the editor of The Rural New-Yorker, as the female parent of his proposed hybrids. This was in the summer of 1886. There were other reasons, too. He could not learn that any hybrids with this peculiar rose had ever been effected or even attempted. Why rugosa was selected as the mother parent was because the flowers, being single, fruit readily.

Harrison's Yellow is either an Austrian or a Scotch rose, or possibly itself a hybrid. The leaflets are small and thin the bush widely branching and the branches full of thorns. It is very hardy, producing a great number of bright yellow flowers, in June, which are semi-double. It will be necessary for the reader to bear in mind these details if he would be interested in the peculiar results of the hybrids of which we have to speak.

It so happened that this rose alone, during the early summer of 1886, or at the time it was desired to effect a hybridization with Rosa rugosa, bore the only flowers that matured pollen in any appreciable quantity. Instead, therefore, of collecting pollen from several different kinds, as was preferred, this Harrison's Yellow was alone used as the father or pollen plant.

Thus it happened that Rosa rugosa was the mother and Harrison's yellow the father of all seeds produced by the first cross.

In making crosses, whether between wheats, rye and wheat, blackberries and raspberries, grapes or any other plants, Mr. Carman has always known one thing, viz., that the seeds produced were unquestionably the result of the cross. In the case of the roses of which we are now writing, the petals were unfolded and the anthers cut out several days before the ripening of the pollen. They were then folded in strong tissue paper, which was removed while the pollen was being applied, and then at once replaced. It was a matter of some surprise to him, as it differed from all his previous crossing experience, that nearly every bud treated, formed fruit (heps) which, though for the most part smaller than those not manipulated, contained seeds.

Second Child of Harrison's Yellow and Rosa Rugosa Roses

The seeds were planted in August, and on the approach of winter (as they had not sprouted), the boxes were sunk in the soil and covered with a mulch, there to remain—subject to freezing and thawing—until February, when they were carried into the conservatory. Here they sprouted in a few days and about 50 little plants grew nicely for a time. When from two to four inches high they were transplanted to three-inch thumb pots, where they continued to grow until attacked by mildew, in consequence of which all but 16 perished. The 16 survivors were planted out in May, and nine now are alive and vigorous.

These hybrid roses are remarkable in one respect; and it is in this part of the record which readers of THE AMERICAN GARDEN, who have given cross-bred seedling rose culture attention, will feel the most interest.

In the first place, as has been stated, self-seedlings of Rosa rugosa are known to come nearly true from seeds, Whatever variations there may be will be shown in slight differences in the size or color of the flower or foliage. But they are all essentially Rosa rugosa. All have the same leathery, wrinkly leaves. A species so peculiarly like unto itself might be supposed to possess a strong pre-potency which, as a mother-plant, would assert itself in the progeny, no matter what species was used for the father. As a matter of fact, but one of the 16 hybrid seedlings bears a decided resemblance to the mother. The leaflets of several are like the male parent, small and thin; while those of one plant are nearly twice the size of the female parent.

During the summer of 1887 he again made Rosa rugosa the mother plant. For males the pollen from half-a-dozen different Hybrid Remontants and several Teas was used instead of that from Harrison's Yellow, as in the first cross. Several hundred hybrid seeds resulted, and 60 plants, not one of which resembles the mother, Rosa rugosa.

Last summer Mr. Carman again crossed as in 1887, using Remontants, Teas and Hybrid Teas for the males—always upon Rosa rugosa. He has now about 100 little plants from an inch to five inches high. Again, not one resembles its mamma in the size or texture of the leaflets. Let us say that as Mr. Carman has never raised a rose except from the seed of Rosa rugosa, the female parentage of these queer seedlings cannot be doubted. These seedlings, as in the past, were transplanted from the shallow boxes in which the seeds were planted to three-inch thumb pots early in May, to be thumped out into a prepared bed in the open ground early in June.

It has been stated by good authorities that seedling roses do not bloom until the second year, and that many do not bloom until the third year or even later.

It was about September 10 that the first lot of these seedling roses (Rugosa and Harrison's Yellow) began to develop buds, four of which bloomed, though not until after two or three light frosts. A flower and two buds are shown in the small illustration on page 218. It will be seen that the flower has five large outer petals and two rows of inner (imperfect) petals—15 in all. This bloom occurred seven months after birth. The same plant bloomed again throughout last summer, being the first of all to bloom, continuing until after frosts. The large cut on this page, shows a photographic illustration of the foliage, two buds and a flower—the latter was slightly wilted when the photograph was taken. The white dots seen upon several of the leaflets and one in the center of the flower are the heads of pins used to hold the spray in place. The flower bears 30 to 35 petals of a color resembling, though distinct from, General Jacqueminot. In this case, therefore, of nature's mixing colors, a light pink and a yellow make a crimson-cherry color. The plant is wonderfully vigorous and abundantly clothed with its distinctly beautiful foliage. Its fragrance is decidedly that of a sweet-briar intensified. Henry Bennett, the great rose-grower of Shepperton, England, holds that the color of a rose comes from the male. But two of Mr. Carman's hybrids have bloomed as yet, one of which was exactly Rugosa's color, the other as above described. Several of these hybrids are thornless, though thorns may appear with age. No less than ten of the seedlings bore three distinct cotyledons. In so far as we are informed, these are the first Rosa rugosa hybrids known. Georges Bruant was a later production—a cross between Sombreuil (a Tea) upon Rugosa. We may reasonably hope for some interesting developments from Mr. Carman's plants as they grow older and come into bloom.