Journal of Horticulture and Cottage Gardener, 24: 37-38 (Jan 21, 1892)

The Rosarian's Year Book far 1892. Edited by the Rev. H. HONYWOOD D'OMBRAIN. London: Bemrose & Sons, 23, Old Bailey and Derby.

The chapter by Lord Penzance, describing his "Experiments in Rose Hybridisation," is exceptionally interesting and original. We, therefore, take the liberty of making a short extract from an article which we recommend all rosarians to read in its entirety.

Having explained the reason why the Sweet Briar was especially selected as a seed-parent in various crosses, the author continues as follows:—"Soon after I began work, out of twenty blooms of the Sweet Briar that I impregnated with foreign pollen, nineteen produced hips. The cross-bred seedlings produced from it, moreover, have a strength of root and of growth far surpassing the original stock, and they strike as cuttings with a marked facility. In experimenting with the Sweet Briar as a breeding stock, I took no account of its delicious foliage, for I had but a slender expectation that its seedlings would be endowed with that additional charm. But before setting to work upon it, in order to obtain experience in the needful details, I crossed a number of Hybrid Perpetuals with the pollen of others of the same class. As every individual bloom on which I operated was marked with a label, and all details of date, condition, and state of the weather at the time of working were faithfully recorded, the number upon which I worked was necessarily limited, and could bear no comparison with the doings of those who sow hips by thousands, gathering them promiscuously from the finest varieties, without any artificial impregnation, and who esteem themselves fortunate if one seedling out of a thousand turns out to be worthy of culture. This is the system I believe at present pursued both in this country and in France for the production of new varieties. It might be thought that when the two parents were carefully selected (which was the case with all the Hybrid Perpetuals that I tried), a better progeny would be obtained than those which come up by chance from seed picked at random as 1 have just described. Such seed is often supposed to be the result of foreign pollen carried to the bloom on the legs or bodies of insects, and even the winds have not escaped suspicion as a party to this irregular intercourse. But there is in truth no ground of accusation against either insects or winds, seeing that a Rose bloom, self-fertilised, is quite capable of pr during seed, the plan's raised from which are widely different, not only from the parent, but from one another. I have constantly noted this fact under circumstances and conditions which absolutely preclude the intervention of foreign pollen from any source whatever.

"The results which I have obtained from crossing the Hybrid Perpetuals with one another have, in many instances, given me flowers as beautiful as many that find a place in the nurserymen's catalogues of the day, but none of any especial merit. On the other rand, they have given me many plants of exquisite colour and scent, and some flowers which, though falling far short of the standard form, had special charms of their own. Still, upon the whole, regard being had to the labour involved, I see no reason to conclude that it would pay the Rose cultivator to exchange the present system for one in which the seed-flowers should be artificially impregnated; and I doubt if it would respond to the expectations of the amateur.

"Cross-breeding between the different families of the Rose is quite another matter. With the blooms of the Sweet Briar the results of so doing are full of interest. I tried at first to get a cross with the Persian Yellow Briar, or what is almost the same thing, Harrisoni. The late Mr. Henry Bennett told me that he had sown hundreds of hips from the Persian Yellow, or produced by the pollen of that Rose, but without any success. I was more fortunate. In my first or second season I obtained a complete cross with the Persian Yellow. The bloom is rather larger than that of the Sweet Briar, and of a pale yellow, and the foliage quite as fragrant as that of the parent, if not more so; but it is little, if at all, more full, though it is more cuppy. This plant is in the hands of Mr. Geo. Bunyard, of Maidstone, and will be, I presume, distributed to those who care to possess it in the course of this next season.

"The Austrian Copper was the next object of my ambition, and here, too, I have been fortunate. The bloom is not quite so deep in its colours as that of the pollen parent, but it is a close copy of the original, and the foliage is quite as fragrant as that of the Sweet Briar. Then I tried the pollen of the Hybrid Perpetuals, and of the Hybrid Bourbons and Hybrid Chinas with the Sweet Briar. With all of these I have had no difficulty in obtaining distinct crosses. I say distinct, because the wood, the foliage, the habit of growth, and the thorn, are not those of the Sweet Briar. The flower of these plants is extremely attractive, I think. The size of the flower varies. They are all larger than that of the Sweet Briar, and of a light pink colour—something about the tint of the old Rose La Reine. Most of them, I should say, have a second row of petals, and one or two of these seedlings have a bloom much larger than that of the Sweet Briar.

"Two more of these seedlings bloomed for the first time last summer; they were the offspring of the dark crimson Hybrid Perpetual, Souvenir d'Auguste Riviere, and their flower is of a much deeper and richer colour. Among hundreds of Sweet Briar seedlings, which are evidently crosses, I have had only one that did not retain the sweet foliage of the seed-parent, and as to this one I cannot help thinking that there must be some mistake as to its parentage.

"About three years ago I thought that I would try the effect of crossing the races the reverse way—that is, applying the pollen of the Sweet Briar to the blooms of some of the Hybrid Perpetuals. In no single instance had the seedlings a fragrant foliage; but it is but right to add, the number of seedlings so raised is but small. The blooms dealt with were not numerous, and many of them did not produce hips. I consider the effect of using the pollen of the Sweet Briar, therefore, as still an open question.

"I have now to state a fact that I own was a considerable surprise to me. As many, I think, as four or five out of the seedling Sweet Briars which have hitherto flowered have now turned out to be Perpetuals, blooming a second time in the autumn, and blooming then freely. During this autumn of 1891, indeed, in spite of the heavy rains, they have gone on blooming right through the month of October, and they bloom, like their seed-parent, in clusters. An additional charm, and in my estimation a great charm, is to be found in the fact that these flowers have a very delicious scent—a scent quite independent of and different from that of the foliage. Whence comes this habit of autumn flowering? I am unable to answer the question. Some of these Perpetuals, it is true, had for their pollen-parent a Hybrid Perpetual Rose such as La Souveraine, but the parents of others have been of a Hybrid China or a Hybrid Bourbon, neither of which ever bloom a second time—such for instance as William Jesse and Paul Ricaut. If we go back a generation, no doubt we come in contact with a progenitor endowed with this 'perpetual' quality, as both the China and the Bourbon Roses are of that kind, and this much-coveted habit of perpetual blooming may, like the gout, be given to skipping a generation. I shall know more about all this when the Sweet Briar crosses with the Tea Roses, of which I have a great many, are a little older, and vouchsafe to show me what they can do by way of flower."

[As an example of what Lord Penzance has accomplished we herewith present an illustration (fig. 6) of Sweet Briar Lady Penzance, for which the Royal Horticultural Society has awarded a first-class certificate. This is a charming single variety, with metallic rosy bronze flowers, yellow at the base of the petals. The flowers are about 2 inches across, and the foliage is fragrant. A note accompanied the plant, exhibited at a meeting of the Royal Horticultural Society, was to this effect:—"The specimen is a graft or bud on the Manetti of a seedling from the common Sweet Briar, crossed with the pollen of the Austrian Copper Briar in 1886. The seedling came up in the spring of 1887, and flowered for the first time in 1889, but had only one flower. It is now a vigorous plant 1 feet high, the wood a sort of purple colour like that of the pollen parent."]