Ann. Proc. and Bull. American Rose Society pp. 46-56 (1907)
Thursday. March 14.

The meeting was called to order by President Simpson at 3:25, following the visit to President Roosevelt. The first business on the program was the reading of a paper by Mr. E. Gurney Hill, of Richmond, Ind., on "The Hybridization of Roses; the Ideals Before the Worker and the Means Used to Work Up to Those Ideals." Mr. Hill's paper was as follows:

An Ideal in Raising New Varieties of Roses.

Your president and executive committee have suggested as a subject for my paper, "The Advisability of Having an Ideal in Mind When Attempting to Raise New and Improved Varieties of Roses." It would have been better it you had selected some one to prepare this paper who has had a broader and more extended experience bearing upon this particular line of work than myself; it is a subject full of interest, of mystery and of elusive leadings, and of which I am free to confess, I have very little exact knowledge. The more I have tried to inquire into the laws governing cross-fertilization the more surprised I have been at the very little tangible knowledge possessed by plant growers, for it would seem that after generations of attempts at crossing that we should find much more accurate information at hand, and at least a few formulas which might be followed with some certainty.

I should say, by all means have an ideal in mind when attempting the production of a new variety of rose through the medium of cross-fertilization; in fact, the ideal is persistently forced upon the worker by the very shortcomings of his every-day favorites; the amateur may please his fancy, and delight himself with the odd and curious results of haphazard work, and there is much pure pleasure to be derived from it, but the florist, with all his love and reverence for the beautiful in nature, has a sterner purpose in view. The rose has descended to commercialism; the rose grower must raise it to a pinnacle of perfection where it can dominate its special line of commerce, without apology for any weakness and it must be confessed at the present time that the usefulness and the profit of nearly every variety of commercial rose is greatly impaired by some serious drawback to its reliability; to eradicate those faults in the parent is impossible; to produce a seedling that shall retain the good points of the parent with the weakness eliminated is well worth working for. This, then, forms an ideal; definiteness of purpose in any line of activity is essential to results, and quite as important as the ideal is the working plan which must be formulated to attain the end in view.

Some years ago I began working on red roses, hoping to secure something better than Meteor, Teplitz and Litta, all fine in their way, though stubborn material in the hands of the rose forcer. My initial work was begun with these varieties, and only after a good lapse of time have results been forthcoming. The purpose in view was first to secure a vigorous constitution in the progeny and seedlings showing exceptional vigor have again been bred with Liberty, Richmond, American Beauty, Queen of Edgely and several of the best H.P's. My aim in this particular line of work has been to secure a red rose that would flower freely under glass in Winter; furthering this idea of improving the red varieties, pollen was taken from American Beauty and over 300 crosses were successfully made last year (1906) and these latest seedlings are now nice little plants growing vigorously in their little pots. My hope in thus using American Beauty pollen is to secure, if possible, a long stemmed, free blooming Winter forcing variety; a previous effort in this line has given us a rose superior in color and size to American Beauty with the additional advantage of producing flowers as freely as Richmond or Bridesmaid.

Quite a separate line of crossing has been to improve upon the size of Rosalind Orr English while retaining its general color scheme. With this end in view hundreds of crosses have been made with pollen taken from Richmond, Queen of Edgely, American Beauty and Paul Neyron during the season of 1905; the progeny from these have mostly flowered, with a result that some 30 have been retained for a second year's trial. Two out of the 30 selected are of unusual promise; one of these is American Beauty x Rosalind Orr English, and is specially notable for its stiff, long stem and large size; the other cross is Richmond x Rosalind Orr English, which is intermediate in color between its two parents with the additional merit of possessing double the number of petals that either of is parents possess. The above two instances are cited to show concentrated effort on a given line in a multiplicity of crosses. I give the above in detail to illustrate my conviction of having an ideal in mind when working for a given end. Perhaps some day we will find a means to the end desired by simply making one direct cross.

I do not know for a certainty, but I believe that Joseph Pernet, of Lyons, France, has followed out a similar line in his raising of new varieties. I judge this by the similarity in growth, foliage, and the general build of the flowers in his originations. Take President Carnot and Antoine Rivoire; note their general characteristics and I think it is easy to detect a similarity of lineage running on down through his Madam Rivary, Le Progres, Joseph Hill, Mme. Jenny Gillemot, Mme. Philip Rivoire, Mme. Melanie Soupert and Baron Sinety and three of his very latest introductions, Mrs. Aaron Ward, Mme. de Liuze, and Renee Wilmart Urban show the same general characteristics. It would be interesting to know if M. Pernet had been following out Mendel's theory in his breeding of roses. Not all his productions are allied to the varieties mentioned above, for his Etoile de France, Marquis Litta, Soliel d'Or and Laurent Carle are quite distinct from the type cited above.

If the law of inter-breeding be correct, gathering in only pollen from closely related varieties, then the law of heredity as applied to the animal kingdom would not hold good in the vegetable family. My suggestion would be to follow both lines of work, inter-breeding and promiscuous breeding, if I may thus put it, but always have in mind the design of a given improvement. Of late my one thought has been to select the most vigorous grower for the mother plant, for without health, vigor and a good constitution the finest new rose is a failure. I am thoroughly convinced by observation and experience that the mother plant has the most to do in giving health, vitality and constitution to the offspring; this being the case, we can see at a glance how important it is to select only the very strongest among the everblooming varieties to serve as the female parent. We should select the pollen from those varieties which have pronounced qualities in the way of color, stem, length of bud and fragrance. If these qualities are present in the male you may hope that they will have an influence upon your crosses.

With the increased vigor possessed by many of the later productions in tea and hybrid tea roses, such as Betty, Pharisaer, Killarney, Kate Moulton, and others of like vigor, it need not be many years before a race bred from such parents will give greatly increased vigor over present existing varieties, and with this increased strength of growth great good will come to the grower. The infusion of hybrid perpetual blood will also have a marked tendency to increase the vigor and growth of seedling roses, and by using the ever-blooming for the seed bearer freedom of bloom will in large measure be preserved. It ought not to be many years until the present non-flowering hybrid perpetual roses are superseded by a race equally as virile but which will give continuous bloom. If we get vigor of growth with certainty of bud and flowers on the ends of long straight stems that will be the true type that will give us larger and finer flowers for our Winter forcing as well as better varieties for our gardens.

I know that you will say that predictions of this sort are easy to make, but kindly indulge me a little; let us use any means to impress upon the minds of those just taking up this work, that constitution is the foundation upon which all effort must proceed. A great number of skilled and practical workmen are enthusiastically bending their best energies toward improving the rose and we are surely making a steady advance in the right direction under such men as the Dicksons and Paul in Britain, the Souperts, Pernet and others in France, and Peter Lambert and his colleagues in Germany, together with Cook, Walsh and others in this country. We have a right to expect even better results than have yet been obtained. Even with the combined efforts put forth by the rosarians in this and other countries progress will appear slow to the impatient workers in our ranks, trifling advance will be noted, but better types and varieties will surely gladden our eyes and hearts, for nature has been kind in the past both in bud variation and cross-fertilization, and the coming years will be no less fruitful than the past. We shall improve upon Malmaison, Marechal Niel, Catherine Mermet, Bride, Perle des Jardines, Kaiserin Augusta Victoria, American Beauty, Frau Carl Druschki, Liberty and the two Cochets, or at least she will reward us with varieties more readily amenable to our twentieth century requirements, which are stringent in the extreme.

By all means let us study Mendel and his theory, note the deductions of De Vries, and gather all the information possible from whatever source it can be had, remembering that nature's working theorems are to be discovered only by the painstaking application of the knowledge at hand, and that no amount of speculative theory will take the place of intelligent persistent experiment, personally conducted. Let no one think for a moment that good results may not be obtained by the simple direct crossing of two varieties of roses, for such is quite possible without inter-breeding. Richmond was obtained by using pollen from Liberty upon Lady Battersea, but it was the one valuable result out of a very large number of the same cross, so that we may say there is a chance of a good return, though it is not probable, from this procedure. I have carefully avoided the use of any scientific or technical terms and have only tried to embody in this very imperfect paper my own ideas and to chronicle the results of my own observations.

Our gardens are sadly in need of roses that will grow and bloom as do most of the present standard varieties in England, on the Pacific coast and in many of our southern states, but here, in the north, only a pitifully small number can be depended upon, and right here is a wide field for the hybridist to enter; a good reliable, ever-blooming garden rose will give pleasure and delight to millions of American citizens. It is to be hoped that many rose lovers will enter this sadly neglected field. My ideas on this line of the subject were given in a paper read before the S. A. F. at its annual meeting in St. Louis, 1905. This line of work might have received a fine stimulus if the trustees of the Carnegie fund had been empowered to set aside certain funds to be awarded for meritorious new garden roses; the field is not inviting to one who must earn a maintenance, but if a prize or a money consideration could be offered of sufficient size it would stimulate efforts in this direction. In closing I wish to express the hope that I have not wearied you in the presentation of my thought on working toward an ideal in the production of new types of roses.


Mr. Hill having finished reading, the members at once evinced their great interest by starting the most lively discussion of the meeting.

Mr. Farenwald asked Mr. Hill how he got American Beauty to produce seed. He had tried it often but without success.

Mr. Hill: I think it is a very unsatisfactory method of procedure to take plants of American Beauty that are grown in benches for cross-fertilization purposes. The trouble is you cannot control the moisture in the bench. I do not think there is any particular difficulty in getting the American Beauty to seed, but it would be better to pollenize the plants grown in pots so that you can have perfect control of the water and the moisture in the pot. I find it is quite easy to get American Beauty and other roses to set seed when grown in pots. The trouble is to get them to ripen the seed. I think you would overcome the difficulty if you were to grow your mother plants of the American Beauty in pots and keep them rather on the dry side.

Mr. Craig complimented Mr. Hill on his excellent paper. He expressed the wish that there might be more like him to carry on the work of improving the rose and said that his paper would be an inspiration to young growers of the Society to continue the work. Mr. Craig also expressed a wish to hear from Mr. John Cook, a pioneer in American rose growing. Mr. Craig said that he fully coincided with the views of Mr. Hill.

Mr. Cook stated that his experience agreed with that of Mr. Hill. In regard to American Beauty, it might be possible to get one out of a hundred to seed, for the simple reason that the pollen could not get down to the ovules. The cross-fertilization of the rose was a great study, and the mountain got higher all the time as one ascended it.

Mr. Hill said that he was sure the America Beauty rose could produce seed. He had done it. He had an American Beauty four or five years ago that reproduced flowers almost exactly, but with short stems. He gave it to a nursery firm thinking it might do for an outdoor rose, but they gave it up on that account. He had taken some pollen from some of the short-stem roses and hybridized three or four hundred plants, all on red roses. He now had about eleven hundred plants with prospects of more. He said he had been told by someone that out of one thousand plants one could hardly get more than three worth putting on the market, that that is about the way such matters run. The question of color derived by crossing also received some attention. Mr. Hill stated that in crossing, the roses follow the color line more closely than do the carnations. He had made several thousand crosses in red roses and had never noted any radical variation in color.

Mr. A. Montgomery, Jr., made a few remarks. He said that theorizing would never take the place of practice; that it was a very difficult matter to get a rose that was better than any now on the market; the scarcity of new roses was not due to lack of enthusiasm on the part of hybridizers.

Mr. Barry, of Rochester, N. Y, spoke at some length, in substance as follows: I have just arrived, my train having been late, and do not know exactly what the discussion is about, but I infer that it is in regard to crossing and hybridizing. You know, gentlemen, that I am in sympathy with every movement making for the betterment of the rose, and while it would be presumption on my part to take any part in this discussion, because I know so little about it, yet, perhaps, if you will permit me, I may make a suggestion in regard to the work we should engage in. As you know, I am interested more largely in hardy roses and I would respectfully draw the attention of this meeting to that line or department of the rose industry. I would ask all hybridizers to see if something cannot be done by crossing members of various families to secure the results desired. Now, I do not know whether I am talking in order or not. (Voices: Yes, go on, go on.) We now have a very good rose called Red Meyer, which is really a wonderful advance. There have been some others superior, but I consider the Red Meyer as a wonderful advance. It is a rose which will be useful in a severe climate. I think it will be most hardy. The New Century is also a valuable variety. Now, let us see if we cannot get a hardy rose that will have some perpetual qualities that will withstand our severe Winters. We are not growing roses for the old country; but we should do the best we can for this country. We are getting along splendidly with the climbing rose. The Wichuraiana family is not as strong as we would like to have it. The Rambler family has had some new introductions and they are simply wonderful and show what we can do. The crimson varieties are going to do a great deal for this country and I think the future is most bright. Some of these creations I think would be very greatly improved by judicious crossing. We have seen what Mr. Walsh, Mr. Perkins and others have done and there are great opportunities yet.

At the conclusion of Mr. Barry's remarks, Mr. Craig addressed the meeting as follows: Mr. President and gentlemen, I am glad that Mr. Barry dropped in and called our attention to the importance of the work to be done in a certain direction. Most of us, members of the Rose Society, are identified with forcing roses under glass to be sold in the Winter months and we are very apt to become just a littie forgetful of the aspect of the matter that Mr. Barry brought out. J think the Rose Society will never reach its full measure of usefulness until it does work that will interest the mass of the people who have no greenhouses, but who would like to grow roses in their gardens and on their porches, and so I think his words were very timely. He mentioned the Wichuraiana class of hardy roses. Some of them are extremely beautiful. I think we have, as a Society, hardly recognized the importance of workers in that line. Take the work of Mr. Walsh, of Massachusetts. What that one man has accomplished in that direction is simply wonderful. He has brought out roses that have electrified the people everywhere. Two years ago we read in the London papers that Lady Gay had captured England. The gold medal of the National Rose Society is not easy to get. They only give it out once in a while. They gave it to Lady Gay. Now, isn't it a little bit of a reflection on this Society, which had the first opportunity to criticise and measure Lady Gay, that it gave it no reward at ail? The matter was overlooked, not intentionally, but as just such things are apt to be. I think it would be better for the Society to take more interest in new things that possibly have merit. It should be made a rule of this Society that no plant or flower having merit could be exhibited here without having due consideration and a report made on it. If a man having developed a rose which he thinks has merit—and that has merit—puts it on exhibition and there is no notice taken of it, the man very naturally loses interest in that Society and the Society loses an enthusiastic member. Now, when the proper time comes I have a special report to make on this Wlchuraiana exhibit which I want the members to consider. And while we are discussing this matter, we have Mr. Walsh right here. He has accomplished more in that line than anybody else in the world and I am going to ask him to get up and tell us something about his work. He must be a man of enthusiasm in that line of work and he cannot help knowing more than all of us about it.

Mr. Walsh said he had a paper to read later.

Mr. O'Mara at this point made a motion that a vote of thanks be tendered Mr. Hill for the able paper he had read.—Carried.

Mr. Hill then spoke again briefly and thanked Mr. Barry for what he had said. Mr. Hill expressed himself as feeling ashamed that he had not given more attention to that work. He spoke of the efforts to produce an everblooming rose and said he thought the nursery men were a little slow in coming forward. He thought they were the ones who should help; he did not want to find fault with them, but it seemed to him that the nurserymen had not given the subject proper attention, although it concerned them more than it did the florists. 1f they could show at the exhibition some everblooming roses, what a grand thing it would be.

William Frazer, of Baltimore, spoke as follows: I think Mr. Barry's remarks ought to be a great benefit to this Society and they ought to be a lesson to the members. I think the American Rose Society has been a one-sided affair largely—that is, in the way of new production. We have all been looking for the rose that would make us the dollars under glass. We do not know what creations we have thrown away that might be in the very class needed. If a rose is not good enough to interest a rose grower under glass he throws it away. If a rose shows some merit it may have just the very thing required to make it a hardy outdoor rose and it should be tested in the field. I think Mr. Barry's remarks should be of great interest to us.

Mr. O'Mara said: Before leaving this particular branch of the subject, I want to refer to one of the things we have had brought out. Mr. Barry's last statement inclines me to bring it down to a more tangible point, and that is, what is the northern limit of hardiness for our superior roses? Speaking broadly, we generally consider it as the Great Northwest. Two or three years ago the South Dakota Experiment Station issued a bulletin on this very point. They said the rose to grow successfully there had to be developed there. I believe, however, that the matter has never been taken up as yet except in some spasmodic way. The field is still open to develop a rose that will be hardy in this northern country. I had a letter, I think some time last year, from a lady in Edmonton, Alberta, who was anxious to be advised regarding roses, and I tried to advise her with what information I had derived from the bulletin and also from the general information I had derived from reading the trade papers. To my utter astonishment, she wrote back and said that she had American Beauties and others in her garden and that they were doing beautifully. She had been living there five years and had a five-year-old garden. Now, a bit of absolute information like that is worth a bushel of theorizing. Of course, we have to accept her statement. It opens up a field of discussion that would be very interesting.

Mr. A. Farenwald: We had a very able paper from Mr. Wirth last night on that very subject. We have now a number of varieties which will stand the Winter if they are properly protected. In fact. I think if almost any variety is properly protected it might be kept for a number of years. I think it is a little hard on this Association to say that it is one-sided. The Society was formed and maintained by the growers under glass. The outdoor hardy rose is not so important to us men under glass. That is the work of the nurseryman. I do not know of any of these men who are members of the Society. If they will join with us and assist us they will be able to give us many new varieties..

Mr. Frazer, who had first referred to the Society as being one-sided in its work, replied that he had not intended to cast any aspersions on the Society, but that he thought the Society would do well to throw out some inducements for the nurserymen to join.

Mr. Hill: I agree that we do want the nurserymen. The American Rose Society is not intended for the rose under glass alone, but it means more. We are, I hope, not in this Society for the sole purpose of putting money in our pockets. We should have a double purpose. We are here to do credit to ourselves and to the occupation, but we should take a broad view of this whole thing. Unless that sort of spirit is to be found among the members I do not think our Society is going to be a success, at least to the extent that you wish it. The hardy rose is something we must not fail to recognize. There is only one way that this work can be done successfully, and that is to work together. I do not mean to be impracticable, but it seems to me that there is a broad view to be taken.

The Secretary then reported that the Executive Committee had urged the advancing of the hardy rose in almost everything they had sent out. One report contains several pages about how to take care of gardens, and what sort of roses to plant; and in the present report there is a whole chapter on the cultivation of outdoor roses.