Canadian Rose Annual pp. 51-56 (1979)
A Hand-Painted Family Tree
Aukland, New Zealand

Reprinted from the 1978 Rose Annual courtesy of the author and the Royal National Rose Society.

I do not hold with the belief that we are at the end of the line with our present approach to rose breeding and that future progress will be slow and painful. Everywhere I look in my seedling plot I see novelty. I do not necessarily see outstanding roses, but I do see roses that are completely different.

For that I can thank my eyes for picking out an unusual flower in 1963. Some eight years earlier I had made a fair family of crosses with 'Fruhlingsmorgen' as a parent, not in the search for novel colour, but in a general quest for hardiness. The resulting seedlings were all shrubby types with nothing immediately outstanding amongst them. I decided to plant them out in my home garden and let them develop for a year or two to see how they survived the winter. Late in the '63 breeding season I was attracted to one particular plant which had rather dull pink flowers with a marked white edge to each petal. I put a handful of flowers in my coat pocket of the variety, MACASHPI, cut off the stamens when I got to the hybridising house, next day made no more than a dozen crosses with the pollen and hey presto the next year I had a rather scruffy shy red Floribunda, MACJOSE from a batch of 'Evelyn Fison' x MACASHPI. On occasions, and only on occasions, it had a distinct white band at the edge of each petal.

The New Plantsman 1(1) 10-13 (March 1994)
Rosa roxburghii: the species, its forms and hybrids
Graham Stuart Thomas p. 13
In 1926 Dr Hurst raised from open-pollinated seed from Kew a seedling of R. roxburghii which was subsequently named 'Coryana' in 1939.

About the same time that I was interested in 'Fruhlingsmorgen', Gordon Rowley had been of considerable help in suggesting various species that might add a little spice to my breeding work. One of these was Rosa macrophylla. I obtained and used two hybrids, one called 'Doncasterii' and another 'Coryana'. Nobody can tell me anything of 'Coryana', and I have a suspicion it should really be 'Koreana'. However, in my glasshouse it was a lax climber with ordinary single pink flowers — nothing very startling to me, and difficult as a seed parent. Its pollen was viable and I raised quite a few shrub types with various floribundas as seed parent. The best of these again found the way to my own garden. One of them, MACCORTAN, distinguished itself by growing about six feet tall, ramrod straight, with just one small single red flower on the end of each stem. It was such an oddity that I decided to persist with it, particularly as it repeated, and Rosa macrophylla 'Coryana' did not.

MACCORTAN and MACJOSE form the background to the handpainted series. The family tree explains much of my work. MACJOSE is still in my hybridising house, as are all those varieties underlined on the family tree. I cross it with every new variety I bring into the house. It sets seed well, but this germinates very badly. The pollen is viable and a better bet. Only about one seedling in a hundred shows any hand-painted effect but, and it is a big "but", about 70 per cent of the seedlings are novel in some very distinct way. A very high percentage of the seedlings also inherit an odd malformation of the foliage. As it matures dark areas appear on the surface of the leaves and gradually turn black, lose their chlorophyll and give a crinkled, often unattractive look to the foliage. I have had seedlings that looked super, but were ruined by this additional handicap to selection. It sometimes appears on 'Picasso' and 'Eyepaint', but not badly.

MACEVCO was a less vigorous MACCORTAN with a reasonable truss. MACMERCED was an unsuccessful conventional attempt to raise a red climber. The resulting shrub was kept for its Rosa kordesii background. 'Maxi', their offspring, had one very endearing characteristic — it was highly disease resistant, and passed it on to succeeding generations.

When I realised what was happening with MACJOSE I went back and had a look at its sisters, as many of them had unusual colour characteristics. Several of them were used as pollen parents, and MACFUNDAD on 'Maxi' gave me the important 'Old Master'. It combines the health of 'Maxi' with the exotic plum-red markings of the hand-painted type. The health did not come through on the 'Maxi' x MACJOSE seedling, MACTOREAD as it was subject to a lot of blackspot. However, the very large single flower was such a different tomato-red, and the white band on the petal edges was so pronounced that I persisted with it. MACBAT, as a result, is a small red Hybrid Tea of very strong petalage with not a sign of handpainting and tough glossy foliage. So far, its offspring suffer badly from the black crinkling of the foliage. I only continue because of a suspicion that 'Red Devil' plus MACBAT should provide interesting results. Time will tell.

The variety nicknamed 'Never' was a seedling raised by Dennison Morey, then with Jackson and Perkins in the United States This 'Little Darling' x 'Goldilocks' semi-climber was absolutely outstanding in Ireland. In fact, I would still place it as one of the best roses I have ever seen. I could not interest Gene Boerner of J and P in it, but he told me I could breed on it, and then burn it, which I did. To burn such a beautiful and outstanding rose was a shame. He never did see it under Irish conditions, and it was never marketed — hence the nickname. The ochre-yellow colouring was years ahead of its time. 'Coventry Cathedral,' 'Liverpool Echo', 'Mme Bollinger', 'Kapai' and 'Sunrose' all have 'Never' in their blood.

MACYELEYE was a very large shrub covered in bright orange single flowers with a golden yellow eye most attractive, although not a commercial possibility. It was raised in the same year as 'Picasso', the first of the handpainted type to be marketed. MACYELEYE and 'Picasso', in turn, gave me 'Matangi' and 'Eyepaint'. Hard as I have tried with 'Matangi', I have nothing of promise from it. 'Eyepaint' is a different story. It is a poor germinator although the seed sets readily. I find MACBROEY the most interesting seedling from MACYELEYE, the father being a very well formed orange Floribunda from 'John Church' and 'Elizabeth of Glamis' named MACDIXPA. It is a chocolate brown Floribunda with highly disease resistant foliage and immense vigour.

As soon as I saw the result of crossing 'Marlena' with MACJOSE, 'Picasso', I immediately made more of the same cross, and two years later raised MACS PATO, one of the most consistently white rimmed roses of the lot. MACSPATO x MACBROEY has given me the first true hand-painted Hybrid Tea in a most unusual shade of chutney red and cream. And it is healthy and vigorous. That is MACKINJU seedlings from which will flower this year for the first time. I cannot wait. MACBROEY crossed with MACJOSE gave the bizarre MACSPASH which caused such comment in the early part of last United Kingdom rose season. MACBROEY pollen on 'Old Master' has given me the President's Trophy winning 'Priscilla Burton.' This is probably the most unstable coloured seedling yet from the original Fruhlingsmorgen strain. It can vary, according to the weather and the time of the year, from pale cream pink to cream very heavily overlaid and veined plum red. The hand-painted effect also holds in hot sun and that does not happen with most of the others. To me, the best seedling from 'Old Master' is MACYOUMIS. It always pays to cross odd coloured roses with whites like 'Geoff Boycott' as the oddness often holds in the next generation. MACYOUMIS is cream heavily overlaid and marked with a most vibrant pink. The plant is dwarf like 'Marlena'.

MACSEV from 'Tiki' and MACJOSE was my earliest attempt at a hand-painted Hybrid Tea. The markings were there but in a wishy-washy colour. MACVARSIT does not have the markings at all, but is a different pink Hybrid Tea with pale green foliage. The farther I get away from MACJOSE, the more difficult it is to retain the original banding effect.

One of the easiest seedsetters is 'Anytime'. It also pays to cross roses from widely different lines. So it was natural to cross 'Anytime' with MACJOSE and 'Eyepaint'. The resulting MACSUPSID and MACMIGMOU are both immensely free shrubby types, the former oddly marked, the latter reminiscent of MACYELEYE. MACRAJA is a true miniature. All three are shades of orange and yellow, novel and interesting.

The natural search is for hand-painted Hybrid Teas. Poulsen had a dark red rimmed Floribunda on a white base which he suggested I cross with 'Picasso'. MACRISP, the result, is notable for its extremely crisp tough petal. The fully double small Hybrid Tea-type blooms are unusually scarlet and white. Its real merit may lie in producing flowers of similar stiff petallage for the cutflower market.

Both MACWHENU and MACKENT are true Hybrid Teas. Both are bicolours; both are fragrant; both look vigorous and healthy; the colours in both are blended in an unusual way.

Another unusual bi-colour is MACKEP, bright pale orange on one side and white on the other, with the vigour of 'Liverpool Echo'.

So what next? Once I get the big Hybrid Teas I will cross them back to MACJOSE. I will cross MACKENT x MACJOSE and MACKINJU x MACJOSE this year. I will work on 'Priscilla Burton' to see if her offspring will continue to break down into new colourings and markings. That is a difficult task as the seed refuses to germinate at all. I have several brown roses from completely different strains to MACBROEY and will intercross them.

I cannot understand why 'Matangi' gives such lousy seedlings. I am not beaten there yet. If it won't produce, the similarly coloured MACSPASH may. MACKEPA and MACYELEYE derivatives probably have enough climbing blood in them to warrant crossing them with things like 'Dublin Bay' and 'Malaga'. And there are miniatures and floribundas and pot roses and forcing roses and parks roses wanted in new colours. No, I do not think we are anywhere near the end of the line. I'm busy.