The Garden Magazine 31(2): 93-98 (Apr 1920)
J. Horace McFarland
Editor, American Rose Annual

And the Men to Whose Skill We are indebted for the Romantic Outcrop of Home Introductions Which Have Reached a Climax and Become Available at the Very Moment That Foreign Sources of Supply are Cut Off

John Cook of Baltimore whose achievements in productions for either greenhouse or garden alone would have made him famous. But he did both   “Gurney” Hill, of Richmond, Indiana, originator of this year’s lovely prize Rose Columbia and the man who tests commercially every Rose produced

TRULY American Roses have not been "popular," or in general use, in America until recently. The native species, growing wild in lovely luxuriance in their natural haunts, are less well known to the average American than such exotics as the Chinese rugosa and Crimson Rambler, the Japanese multiflora and wichuraiana. The garden forms, too, have been prominently of foreign origin, as witness the 1917 official list of the National Rose Society of England (long the standard of reference in America), which lists but 19 American varieties in a total of 429, all of which, together with at least 500 more French, German, English, and Irish Roses, are in American commerce. We have taken our rose fashions, as well as our dress fashions, from abroad.

Not only has this been true as to the varieties of Roses for American gardens; but the very plants themselves have been extensively from abroad, being mainly "made in Holland," from which country there were imported in the six years of 1913-18 a total of 10,335,187 plants or more than 75 per cent, of the total of 13,736,292 from all foreign sources.

The much-disliked Quarantine Order No. 37 of the Federal Horticultural Board put a stop to this importation of Rose plants, save for an inconsiderable percentage permitted to trickle through difficult regulations "for trial and propagation purposes." America must now de- pend on her own re- sources for setting the scenery of the annual court of the Queen of Flowers, held outdoors in the eastern, middle and north Atlantic states from mid-May until mid-October,with the "grand entree" in the June month of Roses.

This dependence on home production of varieties may not prove an unmixed disadvantage, for it ought to force us to produce Roses better suited to American climatic conditions than those coming from Europe. Our needs in this direction are made manifest constantly in the correspondence of this office. Within one recent week, a letter from Texas and another letter from Kansas have urged the establishment in the semi-arid regions of the United States of such a Rose test-garden as would determine the real value there of Roses in commerce. We must not lose sight of the fact that the people of the hot plains, where dry farming is of necessity practised, have inherent in them exactly the same love of and desire for Roses as that which characterizes those who do the farming and plan the gardens in the relatively humid East and in the fortunate Oregon corner of the far Northwest, where the Rose seems most at home in America.

FOR five years a sedulous endeavor has been made to discover and record the name, parentage, year of introduction and name of introducer of every Rose of American origin, and the resulting list has been published in the successive issues of the American Rose Annual, issued by the American Rose Society. It is believed that this list is now, thanks to the untiring efforts of Mr. C. E. F. Gersdorff, of Washington, quite complete, including as it does the Rose results of more than a century in America. The 1919 list covered 428 names, a considerable number of which were mere "sports" of foreign varieties, or climbing forms of doubtful permanence. Of this number — not 10 per cent, of the European introductions of a single century — barely 150 varieties of American origin have survived long enough to be now in commerce, and the Roses of real importance among them will hardly equal the "threescore and ten" years of life assigned to even a rose-growing man.

Of this Rose it is said that no matter how many you cut just as many seem to remain — and its hardiness is unquestioned

Yet the American Roses that have "caught on," and especially those being originated and introduced now that the European Roses are hard to come at, are of notable value for America. Indeed, some of them are the admiration of our foreign friends, as I had witness a few days ago when a letter from the Secretary of the National Rose Society of England carried a particular commendation of Excelsa, referring especially to a lantern-slide forwarded with others in fraternal greeting to the 1920 annual meeting of the English society by their American friends.

Certain men of America have done great work, and are continuing that work, in providing us with American Roses for America. This work is generally a labor of love, for while the producer of a variety that finds acceptance for cut-flower growing in greenhouses may obtain a moderate financial reward for his successes (I do not mention his failures), the hybridizer of garden Roses has to be content with deposits in the Bank of Glory, checks drawn on which do not pass current for food, shelter or clothing!

THE American Rose Society, which is the national Rose organization of the land, and which is growing in breadth and vigor after twenty years of endeavor, has established a registration method for preventing the duplication of Rose names, so that the man who grows a new Rose can be protected to that extent in his property. Recently it has appeared that through the parallel thinking of Anglo-Saxon minds, American Rose names have been duplicated in England. For example, the Rose Victory was registered in the United States in 1918, in innocent ignorance of which the National Rose Society of England has, in 1919, permitted the same name to be attached to a very excellent Rose now going into commerce. It was because of this duplication that upon a recent application to register a Rose as General John Pershing, the Executive Committee of the American Rose Society postponed such registration until by correspondence it could be ascertained that no English or French Rose had been recorded with the same world-popular name. Out of this has grown a proposition to work out international cooperation in the direction of avoidance of duplication.

Of the second generation of craftsmen he deals especially with greenhouse Roses and is the producer of Hadley and Mrs. Charles Russell

The Medals of the American Rose Society are the highest honors obtainable in America, and are cherished in consequence. Gold and Silver Medals and Certificates of Merit are awarded annually by the Society itself as marks of distinction and quality upon a difficult scale of points, of which it takes not less than 95 to merit the guerdon of gold and 85 to attain to the silver reward. Medals are also supplied to affiliated local societies, so that the opportunity to obtain this cherished honor is just as widespread as the occurrence of the Rose organization, which ought to be found in every progressive city in the union. Once in each five years the Society awards the supreme honor, the Gertrude M. Hubbard Gold Medal, to "the raiser or originator of the best American Rose introduced within the five years previous." The Rose Excelsa, already referred to as being admired in England, took this super-honor in 1914. It is a glorified and brightened Crimson Rambler, of better parentage, and growth and it has climbed its way right into the esteem of out-door-Rose America.

Strikingly lovely are the dark red semi-single flowers of Dr. Huey, produced by an amateur and named for a distinguished pioneer amateur   Form of petal as well as of the entire Rose, texture, quality of stem, and quality of leafage, all must be considered and compared in judging

Excelsa is the product of M. H. Walsh, a half-century veteran who says, "Roses were my first love, and I still cherish them and am happy in growing and experimenting with them." To his credit are other notable hardy climbers that are better than the best Europe can send us: Hiawatha, Evangeline, Milky Way, Paradise, and many others. Particularly must be mentioned Mrs. M. H. Walsh, a lovely double white trailer which deserved and obtained a Gold Medal in 1911, and Lady Gay, which shares honors with Dorothy Perkins as being the best of the double pink Ramblers, at home and abroad.

The salmon hued Rose that came out of the West and is named for its native city, Los Angeles   A silver medal went to Radiance, which enjoys prominence in both the garden and the greenhouse   Of intricate ancestry is Mrs. Charles Russell and of great popularity as a cut flower   Distinguished by bearing the name of Dr. W. Van Fleet the most notable American hybridizer

A VERY different type of hardy Climbing Rose is notably exemplified in Climbing American Beauty (and the name is properly descriptive), Christine Wright, and Purity — the latter again d perfect, descriptive name. These large-flowered Roses have been sent out by Hoopes, Bros. & Thomas, and are the result of the vision of a famous botanist and nurseryman, Josiah Hoopes, who died in 1904, leaving in James A. Farrell an apt pupil to carry out his dream of better Climbing Roses. These Roses are a memorial, in consequence, to a great and lovable personality, and they are sturdily American. Both Climbing American Beauty and Purity have been given Silver Medals by the American Rose Society.

Another unique personality who is no longer with us has left his living, glowing memorials in our gardens, though all too few of us know and grow them. In my own collection of climbers, I get more deep pleasure, I think, from the early morning contemplation of the Sargent Rose than from any other. It is a Rose, and yet it is an apple blossom, raised to a higher power of dainty beauty. Jackson Dawson, who was for well on to two generations the uncannily successful propagator of all sorts and conditions of plants and trees from all over the world, as their roots, cuttings, or seeds were received at the Arnold Arboretum, believed he had done the best work of his life on the Rose which he named for his great chief, Prof. Charles Sprague Sargent — great enough as to man and Rose to be known by just one name — Sargent. By those men and women who look upon a Rose or any other flower without conventional prejudice and can consequently scan its beauty free from bias, Sargent has been repeatedly called "the most beautiful Rose originated in America." Of Dawson's other excellent roses, I might name the climber W. C. Egan, also named for a cherished and worth-while friend, and Arnold, a vivid crimson single flower which is completely distinct.

His contributions as an amateur bid fair to produce something sensational


This Rose of Capt. Thomas is now designated simply as "4A" and is regarded as the possible forerunner of a new race from which great things may develop

All the foreign Rose catalogues of to-day are sure to list American Pillar as a good hardy climber, with single flowers of unusual charm. I remember seeing the trial plant of it on the grounds of its introducers a dozen years ago, and then exclaiming at its combination of boldness and delicacy. Closer acquaintance has only increased my regard for its fine qualities, not the least of which is its peculiar blend of the East and the West in parentage — for it is a cross of the Japanese native Rosa wichuraiana with theAmerican native R. setigera. This splendid and substantial Rose is the work of the most notable American hybridizer of the day. Dr. W. Van Fleet, now officially "plant physiologist" of the Bureau of Plant Industry in the Federal Department of Agriculture, but actually the potential Rose wizard of the western world.

This shy, retiring scientist won't talk about himself, or tell of his work of more than forty years as editor, investigator and plant breeder, but he will "open up" on Gladiolus, Chestnuts, and Roses, if you are the right sort of interlocutor. The Gladiolus has benefited by his skill, and he becomes really enthusiastic when he shows you the 85 per cent, blight-resistant Chestnut seedlings he has bred at his laboratory of plant wonders between Baltimore and Washington. Of course he will succeed in putting the Chestnut back into our forests, for he is only 15 per cent, from success now. And what has Burbank done in comparison to that!

But the Rose causes Dr. Van Fleet to smile — a slow smile of pleasure, of vision. He has under his hands now crosses with all the virile West China Rose species collected by the late F. N. Meyer, or brought in by E. H. Wilson and by him discussed in The Garden Magazine for June, 1913, and he is each year producing here in polyglot America Roses that are absolutely and hopefully new in parentage, flower, and foliage. They are "on the way" to the eventual true American hardy garden Rose, which must of course be a cosmopolitan Rose, made up just as we are of the best — and some of the worst — of all the lands under the sun.

In each succeeding American Rose Annual since 1916 have appeared Dr. Van Fleet's "Rose-Breeding Notes," which have much of the peculiarly fascinating quality so characteristic of the writings of E. H. Wilson. In the 1920 Annual are illustrated several of the wonderful new forms produced by Dr. Van Fleet, and he tells of the Hugonis and Moyesi and Soulieana crosses.

The officers of the American Rose Society are now making an effort to secure a means of distribution for Dr. Van Fleet's Rose originations which will more quickly and completely make them generally available. The conventional method of distribution by the Bureau of Plant Industry involves the propagation of a few plants which may or may not be applied for by those to whom the bulletins of this Bureau are sent. It is hoped now so to arrange that a larger propagation may be accomplished, that tests may be made in all of the recognized Rose test-gardens of the country, and that therefore progressive Rose-growing firms may have opportunity to obtain sufficient propagating material, as an exclusive possession, for a long enough term to permit the development and disposition of a large stock at prices only sufficient to cover the cost of distribution, plus a reasonable business profit.

Silver Moon (another properly descriptive name!), Alida Lovett, Bess Lovett, and the exquisite Rose named by the introducer for the originator, are all fine Van Fleet climbers. His work with the Rugosa type has also been valuable, as evidenced in New Century, Sir Thomas Lipton, and several other good sorts.

The man whose climbing Rose Excelsa was winner of the super-honor of the Rose world five years ago

A HARDY climber that will bloom continually or repeatedly — an "everblooming" climber — has long been earnestly desired. I know of one electrical engineer who has set himself the task, as recreation from volts and amperes and watts, of producing it. While he has been working toward it, another very earnest, capable and persistent worker has seemingly attained the goal. Captain George C. Thomas, Jr., who for many years has tested, hybridized and discarded thousands of Rose-crosses, presents in the 1920 Rose Annual details and illustrations (several in full color) of certain Roses of semi-climbing habit, vigorous growth, good foliage and attractive single and semi-double flowers, which have bloomed on the wood arising from the previous year's growth, as with the conventional climbers, and also on wood of the current year, right up to the frost stop of late fall. It is the more pleasing that these Roses should be announced now, after their trial at Captain Thomas's superb gardens during his absence "flying in France" with the American Expeditionary Force. It is his belief that these varieties are the forerunners of a race as susceptible of development as have been other distinct classes or "breaks" in the Rose family. One of these Roses, "4A," received a Silver Medal in the tests at the well-managed Portland Rose-Test Garden in Oregon, as well as a special prize of the Portland Rose Society for "the best Rose for outdoor cultivation produced by an amateur." It will be formally named at the Portland Rose Festival in June. Another, Dr. Huey, not an everbloomer, is an exquisitely lovely dark red single beauty.

Captain Thomas has undoubtedly made a most important contribution of American Roses for America, and his critical work is continuing.

This lovely white Climbing Rose is a worthy memorial to its producer, the late Josiah Hoopes who gave us also the superb Climbing American Beauty

IN THE Tea and Hybrid-tea classes, particularly for the important use of all-year-round growing for cut-flowers, American hybridizers have, I believe, surpassed the European workers. With John Cook's first American Hybrid-tea Rose, Souvenir of Wootton, produced in 1888, there began an increasing procession of Roses on the way to the wonderful productions of the present. Cornelia Cook was a valuable "forcing" Rose, and Mr. Cook's other hybrids have proved very much worth while, several of them becoming great garden varieties. Radiance, which took a Silver Medal in 1914, has pervaded the gardens of the East, to their great advantage. To see five-foot bushes of it, as well shaped as a Spirea, laden with the lovely flowers it produces continually in the climate of its nativity — the vicinity of Washington and Baltimore — is to realize that it is a distinct asset to America. Following it came Panama, also taking a Silver Medal in 1915, and in the same group are the standard varieties like Francis Scott Key and My Maryland. Mr. Cook's "Glorified La France" was so named by reason of my burst of enthusiasm when I saw it in its home. Mrs. John Cook, a very beautiful white Rose is just now being sent out by a noted introducer. For sixty years of steady endeavor has John Cook continued in his work, differing from that of many foreign hybridizers in the significant restraint which has caused him to discard scores of seedlings which abroad would have been sent out.

In 1914 the notable qualities of the red Rose Hadley won for its originator, Alexander W. Montgomery, Jr., the American Rose Society's Gold Medal, and Hadley yet holds a very high place. Among the commercial men another Montgomery Rose, Mrs. Charles Russell, has a notable vogue, and is advantageously grown by the hundred thousand. It is interesting to read of its intricate parentage: "Mad. Abel Chatenay, Marquise Litta de Breteuil, Caroline Testout, Mrs. W. J. Grant, General MacArthur and three seedlings resulting from these crosses, are all combined to produce Mrs. Charles Russell," writes Mr. Montgomery. Just now coming through the quantity production stage for plants are two new originations of this grower — Pilgrim and Crusader — in which he has obviously yielded to the demand for heavier Roses, those with more petals, more "substance" than the heretofore popular Ophelia type. Crusader, an opulent, full, red Rose, is illustrated in the 1920 American Rose Annual.

It is interesting to note the trend toward Roses of more substance. For awhile the informal beauty of the Roses with 20 to 30 petals appealed to those who bought them, and particularly pleased the florists, who found them to open more quickly and sometimes to produce more abundantly. Gradually, however, the taste is veering toward the more solid and substantial Rose with from 30 to 80 petals. It opens more slowly, to be sure, but there is more of it when it does open, and the open flower itself is, as in the case of Crusader, a glorious thing.

DR. WALTER VAN FLEET © Ernest Crandall
A blend of the East and West, this is one of the finest Climbers and shows wonderful delicacy as well as boldness   The Rose wizard of the western world

Milady is a preferred Rose by many cut-flower growers, and is the production of Edward Towill, who has other good Roses to his credit, as well as the idea of keeping on with hybridization. Mrs. Henry Winnett is a red Rose of merit, coming from John H. Dunlop, a Canadian grower. Hoosier Beauty, a standard red Hybrid-tea, comes from the state of poets and novelists as the work of Mr. Dorner. There are other incidental productions and many "sports" which show discrimination in selection, to the credit of American rose-growers. I have tried to touch the high spots only!

A PARAGRAPH is due to the Rose which came out of the West, captured the admiration of the garden makers of the American East, and, crossing the Atlantic, took the highest French honor in 1918, in the shape of the Gold Medal awarded for the best Rose growing outdoors in the famous Bagatelle gardens, near Paris. Los Angeles is the name, and Los Angeles the home point, of this notable Rose, the production of Fred H. Howard, a far-seeing and energetic hybridizer. The rich salmon-orange tints of the Pernetiana type are combined with softer hues, and with a delightful result in Los Angeles. Mr. Howard has other good Roses in commerce and coming, and it is well to keep an eye on the southern part of California, not only for new varieties but for the vast quantities of Rose plants which we may expect to be there produced.

The shut-off by Quarantine No. 37 has caused the Rose growers in the vicinity of San Jose to bestir themselves, and millions of cuttings and other millions of rooted plants are now in the ground in this favorable location. The whole of the Pacific Coast deals kindly with the Rose, from the obviously favorable conditions in the south of California to the inexplicably favorable conditions of Oregon. It is not yet certain that California can successfully provide varieties or plants particularly adapted to eastern United States. The climate along the western Pacific slope is far more nearly akin to that of the south of Europe than to that of the east of America. This is mentioned in reasonable caution, but in no sense in derogation of the vigorous Americanism that lies back of the great Rose propagation movement now going on.

ONE name stands out preeminently among American rosarians. E. G. Hill, or "Gurney" Hill as his friends hail him, has lived with Roses most of his seventy-odd years, and he looks it! In his astonishing place at Richmond, Indiana, as he takes the interested visitor through what seem like literal forests of Roses, he fits the situation. It was Dean Hole who wrote, "He who would have beautiful Roses in his garden must have beautiful Roses in his heart," and no one who sees Columbia, Premier, Mad. Butterfly, Mary Hill and their yet unnamed sisters in the company of the creator of these varieties can have any doubt about the accuracy of the statement.

For a generation or more Mr. Hill has bought and tried all the Roses of all the world that seemed to him to have possibilities. He is known and loved in England, Ireland, and France among the brethren of the Rose, and his "scouting" has been as welcome as it was keen. In 1912 he saw in the Paul establishment at Waltham Cross, England, not only the beautiful bloom of the then just introduced Ophelia, but also its possibilities, wherefore he bought all he could get of it, and by his own methods and on his own high reputation put that great Rose to work for the Rose-raisers of America who grow the many millions of cut blooms annually demanded. Then he took up Ophelia as the parent of a new race of Roses. With General MacArthur, Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt, Richmond, Rhea Reid, Robin Hood and other good Roses very much to his credit, with a ruthless discarding of seedlings having the least lack in his scale of points of perfection, he had experience, standards and ideals with which to use what has proved to be a peculiarly potent parent in that same Ophelia. With Mrs. George Shawyer it gave him Columbia; with an Ophelia seedling and Mrs. Charles Russell there resulted Premier. In each of these two notable Roses there was created a higher standard of sturdiness, color, beauty of form, petalage, foliage, endurance and prolificacy for the greenhouse Rose raisers.

Their success has been phenomenal; an inquiry of a hundred large growers producing annually an average of more than a million blooms each, showed that though introduced only three years ago, Columbia led all other varieties, and that Premier was quite important. Columbia has been awarded the Hubbard Gold Medal by the American Rose Society, marking for it the highest honors. Columbia, too, has broken through the greenhouse glass, and, as is fit and proper for her name, taken place as a great garden Rose. So this review of the producers of American Roses for America may fittingly close with the story of the Rose which, up to date, stands first and highest among all raised in our land, and a proper memorial to the sweet spirit and the genius of the man whom we all delight to honor!

Happily named is Columbia, the Rose that brings the medal of crowning achievement over a period of five years to Mr. "Gurney" Hill   Whose work at the Arnold Arboretum covered two generations and from whose hands many wonderful hybrids came