The Gardeners’ Magazine 49: 631-632 (Sept 22, 1906)

Among yellow roses there is nothing that can vie with the golden glory of the Austrian briars, and it is in no way surprising that their fascinating colours should have induced hybridisers to make numerous attempts to cross them with other roses. The want of success which characterised the efforts of such successful hybridisers as Monsieur Alégatière and others appears to have been due to the fact that, all their efforts were directed, towards using these plants as seed-bearing parents, and it is only during recent years that their potentiality as pollen parents has been definitely ascertained.

Before proceeding, however, to discuss the new hybrids which have awakened such a fresh interest in this class of roses, it will be best to pass in review those members of it which are still found in gardens to-day. Rosa lutea, the single yellow Austrian briar, which is the type, was introduced, as Mr. William Paul tells us in "The Rose Garden," as long ago as 1596, and is described by Parkinson (1629) on page 417 of his "Paradisus" under the name of Rosa lutea simplex. Oddly enough, though called Austrian, neither the type nor any of its varieties are of European origin; indeed, it is now an established fact that the former is a native of the East, and can only have been introduced into Austria from the Levant. It is a plant of marked characteristics, and may be easily distinguished by its chocolate-coloured, shining bark, small leaflets, and solitary single flowers that are unpleasantly scented, and of a delicious shade of yellow. When several plants are grouped together and allowed to grow at will, they are capable of making a most telling display for some weeks at the end of May and beginning of June. The chief desideratum in culture is good, rich soil, and liberal treatment, and, save for cutting out the oldest wood, no pruning need be attempted as it flowers on the ripened shoots of the previous year's wood. As a standard on the English briar this rose will make a fine head, and against a background of some dark evergreen is exceedingly striking when in bloom.

Of an even more unique and gorgeous colouring is Rosa punicea, sometimes termed Rosa lutea bicolor, the Austrian copper briar. There is nothing in the least like it in the whole of the rose world; scarlet does not describe its hue, nor yet orange, and perhaps the description of it as "the rose with petals of gold lined with vermilion" may not be considered an exaggeration. Like the Austrian yellow it is single, flowers but once, and is of unquestioned hardiness, while the same methods of culture should be meted out to it.

Harrisoni, or Harrison's Yellow, is not nearly so well known or appreciated as its merits deserve. Raised about the year 1830 by a retired sea-captain named Harrison, living at Now York, its parentage has been the subject of considerable speculation. In the journal of the Royal Horticultural Society, Vol. XXVII., it is stated by Mons. V. Morel that this rose is presumed to be a hybrid between the Scotch rose (R. spinosissima, syn. R. pimpinellifolia) and Persian Yellow. In support of this theory he cites the experience of Mons. Allard, who raised seedlings of Harrison's rose, among which were specimens with single flowers, white, pink, and yellow, and one semi-double whose flowers approached closely, both in colour and shade, to those of Persian Yellow. In arriving at this conclusion, however, there is one fact that Mons. V. Morel has apparently overlooked, this being that Captain Harrison had raised and named his rose before Persian Yellow was introduced into America. The raiser's own statement made at the time the variety was being put. into commerce was that he. did not know what varieties were the parents of his yellow rose, as he rarely kept any account of them, but made it a practise to fertilise with any variety then in bloom. The second edition of the Kew "Hand List of Trees and Shrubs recognises this rose as Rosa spinosissima var. Harrisoni, and it seems probable that its parents were the yellow Scotch and the single yellow Austrian rose (R. lutea). Though only a moderate grower on most soils, the plant is most floriferous, and when worked as a standard or half-standard, forms a most charming object. owing to its pendulous growth. The soft, bright, golden yellow blossoms are of cupped form, quite double, and pleasantly scented. Grown as a dwarf it makes a most charming bush with its graceful, arching branches. It is true that the flowers are rather transitory, but, if spared' the knife the plant blooms most profusely, and for quite a long period in early summer it is, also, perfectly hardy. The necessary pruning is accomplished by cutting out some of the old wood after flowering.

Persian Yellow, though a more vigorous grower, is neither so useful or attractive as Harrisoni. The flowers are large, full, globular, and rather flat; their colour is a rich deep yellow and their scent distinctly unpleasant. Apparently our climate is not well suited to this rose, for it is seldom seen in a really first-rate condition. To ensure a thoroughly good bloom on dwarf plants the new growths should be shortened to about two-thirds of their length and pegged clown. After flowering these may be cut away so as to encourage the production of new growths. Like Harrisoni it is only summer flowering; it may he grown as a standard and makes a fine head. Sir Henri' Willock introduced this plant from Persia in 1837.

The late Lord Penzance was, as far as I am aware, the first person in this country to meet with success in hybridising the Persian and Austrian briars, and both the hybrid sweet briars known as Lord Penzance and Lady Penzance owe part of their origin, at least, to these latter. His attempts (as we are told by his gardener, Mr. G. Baskett) to fertilise the Persian Yellow with the pollen of the hybrid perpetuals led to many disappointments. Numerous seedlings resulted from the combination, but these only showed the spine of the briar and foliage almost identical, though slightly enlarged. Those which had the hybrid perpetual as seed parent proved equally as disappointing owing to their want of constitution, and their flowers, all but one, were very poor, being of a peculiarly ragged form and tawny hue. This one exception was from a vigorous summer-flowering rose, Catherine Bell, and although both parents are summer-flowering and strong growers, this seedling proved to be of medium growth and perfectly perpetual; the colouring of the flower varying from pale yellow to a deep rosy pink.

It has been left to other hands to accomplish what Lord Penzance failed to do, and, although many other skilful hybridisers have been foiled in their attempt to make an effective cross between the Persian Yellow and the hybrid perpetuals, this difficulty was finally overcome in 1894, the year in which Monsieur J. Pernet-Ducher's hybrid briar, Soleil d'Or, first flowered. This very distinct plant was obtained by crossing an old hybrid perpetual, Antoine Ducher, raised by Ducher in 1867, and remarkable for its large flowers, which are double, bright red, and globular in shape, with the pollen of the Persian Yellow rose. The influence exercised by the pollen parent is very extraordinary, for it has almost obliterated the characteristics of the seed parent. In growth and habit Soleil d'Or resembles the hybrid perpetuals in many respects, and the rounded leaves may be said to he midway between those of this latter family and Persian Yellow. The flowers are solitary and of the same shape and appearance as those of Persian Yellow; in colour they are deep yellow shaded with apricot pink in the centre, while their scent is decidedly more agreeable than that of Persian Yellow. The introduction of this wonderful hybrid, which marked a great advance in the evolution of the rose, did not occasion the interest in this country that its appearance really warranted; this being probably due to the fact that it was viewed more in the light of a horticultural novelty rather than a scientific gain. Its production finally proved that the pollen of Persian Yellow is capable of fertilising the hybrid perpetuals, and Monsieur Pernet-Ducher was not slow to perceive that, unless Soleil d'Or was sterile, it might be possible to raise an entirely new race of roses by intercrossing it with the tea and hybrid tea roses, and, fortunately, in this lie has been completely successful.

Through the courtesy of Monsieur Pernet-Ducher, the first. variety of this remarkable race, Marquise de Sinety, has flowered in the open ground in my garden this summer, and its marvellous beauty has surpassed my most sanguine expectations. The plant is of fine branching growth, with superb dark bronzy-green, polished leafage, and in general appearance resembles the hybrid teas. The buds are held erect on strong stalks; their outer petals are orange-yellow stained with orange-carmine, while the inside of the petals is vivid copper-red with an orange base. The expanded flowers, which are not very full, or of good form, are apricot and buff, tinted with pale copper-red; they are scented like a tea rose. I have submitted flowers of this superbly coloured rose to Mr. William Marshall, Mr. E. Mawley, Mr. H. E. Molyneux, and Mr. George Paul, all of whom were struck with their rich and unusual colouring. Readers must pardon me if I have digressed somewhat from my subject in endeavouring to make known the great part that Soleil d'Or has already played in the production of a race of roses whose beauty is almost indescribable.

Rosa lutea has engaged the attention of several other noted raisers besides Mons. Pernet-Ducher, among whom are Dr. Müller, of Weingarten, Wurtemburg, and Herr Peter Lambert, of Trier, Germany. The former is known as one of the most eminent and skilful rose hybridists in Europe, and it is to him that we owe the superb rugosa hybrid, named Conrad Ferdinand Meyer. Apparently his greatest achievements have been obtained with Rosa lutea and its varieties, but, so far, the only one of these hybrids at present in commerce is Gottfried Keller, which is depicted in the accompanying illustration; the remainder have passed into the world-renowned collection of Mons. J. Gravereaux, at L'Hay, near Paris. Gottfried Keller was distributed some four or five years ago by Herr Otto Froebel, of Zürich, but does not appear to have attracted much notice until this season, when it was exhibited in superb condition by Messrs. Paul and Son, of Cheshunt, on several occasions, and given an award of merit by the Floral Committee of the R.H.S. Of its beauty as a garden plant I am well able to speak, for three plants in my own garden have been flowering continually from June till September this season. The habit of growth is upright, almost half-climbing; the wood reddish-brown and covered with distinct reddish-brown thorns, which are hooked and very strong. The new growth is purplish-pink in colour, and the dark green leaves are leathery and well glazed, more approaching to those of the hybrid teas. The flowers are single and semi-double, possessing from seven to ten petals, and are generally produced in clusters of four or five. The upper part of the petals is a soft rose-pink, merging into golden yellow in the centre, while the outside of the petals is dark yellow. The combination of colours is most striking, and the flowers possess a pleasing scent. Its parentage is the result of a most strange commingling of different groups of roses. A seedling between the old dark violet-crimson hybrid perpetual Pierre Notting and the climbing tea Mme. Bérard was crossed with Persian Yellow. The resulting seedling was then crossed with another seedling raised from Mme. Bérard and Persian Yellow. Despite its tea blood it has proved perfectly hardy at Zürich, and for garden decoration it certainly surpasses Soleil d'Or.

We are on the eve of obtaining some remarkable hybrids of the Austrian briar from Herr Peter Lambert, but as these have not yet flowered with me I am as yet unable to describe them. The variety named Parkfeuer, which is said to be a single or semi-double rose with flowers of the most vivid scarlet hue, has already attained the height of over eight feet in my garden, though only planted last autumn. Both its foliage and general appearance lead me to expect that it will prove to be something quite distinct.