The Florists' Review, pp. 11-13 (Feb 10, 1916)

Among the chief fascinations of hybridizing are its mysteries and uncertainties. The hybridizers are ever seeking success by seeking fuller acquaintance with Dame Nature, the chief of hybridizers, but the lady shuns familiarity. Occasionally, however, when such a free favor is least expected, she coquettishly presents to some astonished florist a fine new rose—a sport.

By E. G. HILL (Address at Tennessee Florists' Convention.)

ROSES originate in two definite ways, either through the reproductive organs or by bud variation—the adventitious bud, as the scientist puts it. We florists speak of bud variations as sports. These bud sports when

they become fixed in their character, are really the creation of a new rose, especially in color, and often the growth also varies, sometimes showing more vigor and greater strength than in the parent, but often a lessened degree of vitality. It is a strange performance of nature, to say the least.

Climbing Sports.

Sometimes these adventitious buds produce really remarkable scandent growths, taking the character of a real climber. I think it safe to state that every variety of rose that has had extensive propagation has developed this trait. These climbing growths can be fixed, so that they retain their newly formed character. These climbing variations refuse, however, to bloom continuously, like their parents, but give forth their flowers annually, with intermittent bloom at intervals through the growing season.

As illustrations we have Climbing Killarney, Kaiserin, Meteor and a host of others which are catalogued by the trade. Among the last to take on this form of sporting is the variety Ophelia, as reported by Chas. L. Baum, of Knoxville.

These climbing variations are certainly of great value in the way of furnishing varieties for porch, pillar and veranda decoration and in the way of giving valuable varieties for screen purposes, pillar roses and porch adornment. I distinctly remember a climbing Perle des Jardins in R. C. Kerr's city, growing with such vigor that it had then covered a large portion of a two-story veranda.

A Baffling Mystery.

It would seem that nature, while unwilling to reveal her secret in this particular, evidently works along fixed laws, for when one of these bud variations appears in one place, it comes forth in like character in one or more places. The variety Caroline Testout developed this trait at Lyon, France, and at Berkeley, Cal., some 7,000 miles apart, at practically the same time. Some of our superior forcing varieties, those extensively used for flower production, are the product of varieties that have sent forth these adventitious buds. For instance, Catherine Mermet gave us Bridesmaid and The Bride, and

how well and faithfully they served the growers of roses for a quarter of a century! Then we have the Killarney family — White Killarney, Killarney Brilliant, Killarney Queen, Double White Killarney, Red Killarney; this variety has been specially prolific in its color variations and has proved a valuable asset to the rose growing fraternity. I mention Catherine Mermet and Killarney as prominent in adding great value to the market florist. How we are to explain this phenomenon is past comprehension except that it is according to the divine plan of the Creator.

Limits of Man's Knowledge.

Of the fact of evolution we are certain; of the workings of natural selection we have no doubt. But with regard to the nature of the variations, what causes them and when to expect their appearance, we at this date know practically nothing.

The writer has often wondered whether the orchardists and the nut and fruit men have not overlooked these bud variations, to their great loss. If, when a superior apple has appeared, or any other fruit differing from the normal, it has ever been propagated and an effort made to fix it, the writer has never heard of such an attempt.

On this particular phase of our work, let every florist keep a keen lookout, for there is no telling what good fortune may come to you. Killarney Brilliant and White Killarney, made up into the thousands o dollars for the gentlemen who discovered and disseminated them. Can the Ethiopian change his color or the leopard his spots? No, but a rose can change its color, and does do it.

Biology is the science of life. Fertilization is the method of procedure for anyone who would give earnest a eat thought and effort to produce new types, either in roses or other plants. It is established beyond question that sex exists in the vegetable as well as in the animal creation, and if we would improve the rose, this is the right line to work upon. Practical experience is the only teacher. Scrutiny, observation and application are the three forces that win. The late Mr. Carmen, editor of the Rural New Yorker, made this statement before the S. A. F. years ago—that roses and all plants have their predisposition at certain times more than others to assume the sex relation; in other words, they fall in love just as the members of the animal creation do.

The Hybridizer's Methods.

The modus operandi is simple so far as the mechanical act is concerned. The stamen, the pollen-bearing anther, must be removed, else there is danger of self-pollenization. The pistil, the seed-bearing organ, is composed of the ovary and stigma, and upon this the pollen must be placed. This is best done by a camel's-hair brush. Care should be taken to protect from insect interference if definite results are to be had.

Spring is suggested as the most opportune time for the work of the hybridist with roses. Select with care the roses you wish for your mother plants, and it would be well to have these grown in pots, for convenience and after care.

Idealism plays an important part in the work of the hybridist. Let the imagination have play; in other words, conjure up in your mind the kinds and qualities you wish combined in the variety you wish produced; then select the parents carefully and await results. Time, patience—unlimited patience—is the one great requisite. Someone has said that out. of 1,500 germinated rose seedlings, if you get one that towers above existing varieties, it is all that can be reasonably expected. It might he that through accident, or what is called luck, you might get the coveted prize with a less number.

Saving and Sowing the Seed.

The care of the plants after fertilization is all-important. Too free use of water will cause the hips to rot and damp off. Air must be allowed to circulate freely among the bushes; no coddling or impure atmosphere must be allowed, else the work done thus far will be lost. If, say, your fertilization is done in April, it will take until the end of November for the seed to ripen. One essential matter is that the seed must be thoroughly ripe and hard; unripened seed will not germinate. Sowing the seed as soon as gathered is practiced by many, and I think this is perhaps the wise thing to do. Some file the seed on one side, taking care not to injure the germ; this facilitates germination. Seed may be sown in any ordinary good loam, with drainage in the pots or boxes used. Great care is needed in watering and nursing, else the little seedlings may suffer from damp.

We potted off in April last about 2,200 seedlings, all from carefully thought-out crosses, ant these, when planted, occupied 500 feet of bench room. With a few exceptions, they flowered, arid the result is quite gratifying, prospectively at least. The last year's work has been more carefully and scientifically performed—this as a result of fifteen years' experience. Mendel 's theory has been of great assistance and I would commend a careful perusal of his work.

Some Famous Hybridizers.

You perhaps know that Pernet-Ducher, of Lyon, has given us a majority of our finest and lust roses; to Mr. Pernet we are indebted for the fine yellow coloring bred into our favorite forcing varieties, such as Sunburst, Mrs. Aaron Wart and others. Antoine Rivoire is one of his varieties, and the valuable Ophelia is a seedling from this noted sort. The Dicksons, of Newtownards, gave its the original Killarney, together with other valuable sorts. The Hugh Dickson firm, of Belfast, has been awarded the $1,000 prize by the Panama-Pacific jury. One of the most studious of the European hybridists is Samuel McGredy, of Portadown, Ireland. Some of his seedlings under test at Richmond give promise of good things in roses in the near future. The two Pauls, of England: the Souperts, of Luxembourg, and Lambert, of Germany, have made notable additions to our list of valuable roses.

Among our successful American raisers of new roses may be mentioned John Cook, of Baltimore: Walsh, of Woods Hole, Mass.: Montgomery, of the Waban Rose Conservatories, and others. I shall miss my guess if we do not produce in the near future roses of such character as will put our American productions in the front rank.

The South's Opportunity.

What we need in this country is varieties of roses that will thrive and embellish our gardens. The people in Tennessee are particularly favored by soil and climate for this particular line of work. Let them get busy and lend a helping hand, and see if they cannot produce some new varieties that will more perfectly embellish our gardens and dooryards. They owe it to their state and profession that they undertake this work.

Some of the most promising introductions of late years are succeeding finely in the southern climate. I was particularly pleased with Mrs. Charles Russell and Ophelia as grown under glass in the south; Hoosier Beauty and Killarney are making good with most growers who have given them a trial.

One thing must be borne in mind—it costs time, patience and money to produce new varieties of roses. You cannot expect these to be forthcoming unless you are willing to purchase of these new varieties, thus encouraging those who, I think, are deserving of more hearty support than has been accorded thus far.

The Demand for New Sorts.

When last at Lyon, France, I found that the great silk manufacturers best  every effort, skill and thought, looking to the production of new colors, patterns and shades in their silks. People demand change and novelty every year in their silks and ribbons, and the same holds good with roses. The greater the interest taken by you in new things, the greater will be the money returns to storemen and growers. Without advancement on these lines, we shall not keep pace with other professions. Unless you encourage the hybridist by purchasing his product, there will be only a minimum of effort put forth to give novelty and increased variety. This to the writer seems fundamental, if we would make good both financially and professionally.

In conversing with one of the leading rose firms—they distribute hundreds of thousands yearly—I asked: "Why do you propagate these old and inferior roses, like Marie Guillot, Boupre and Coquette de Lyon, when there are so many superior varieties in the same line of color?'' The answer was: "The south demands them and we have to grow them; we concede they are inferior sorts.'' The trouble is with the men who issue catalogues; the nurserymen use the same old colored lithographs; the catalogue men use their old stereotyped cuts and descriptive matter. This is unfair to the amateur, who wishes the finest and best for his garden, and is destructive of the best interests of the hybridist, and is certainly unbusinesslike from every point of view.

There is opportunity in the southern states to build up and establish great rose growing establishments, like those of the Pauls, Dicksons, Guillots and others in Europe. The soil is suitable for the rose; climatic conditions are favorable; why not embrace the opportunity and give to the United States some rose nurseries worthy the name?