American Rose Magazine 2(3): 40 (May-June 1937)

Yellow Radiance? White Radiance?

John Cook's gift to the rose-world was one of those epoch-making roses which may reverently be assumed as a special interposition of the Creator. Radiance, as first distributed in 1908 through Peter Henderson, resulted from hybridization of two of Mr. Cook's little-known roses, Enchanter and Cardinal. Sold to Mr. Henderson at the then highest price ever paid for a garden rose, in the belief that it would be a greenhouse cut-flower rose, Radiance was not a success in that use, but rapidly spread over the world as the most dependable Hybrid Tea, delivering buds and bloom and growth in nearly all conditions everywhere.

"Sports" began to occur. There were two Red Radiances, one, happening in Washington for Gude Bros. in 1916, being accepted as the best in a choice between a sport occurring for Pierson about the same time, but withdrawn.

Then came the Washington sport, sent out by A. N. Pierson in 1917 as Mrs. Charles Bell, and yet unique in its pinkish salmon hues.

Pretty soon the popularity of Radiance started two things: hybridization to get other colors, and hopes for sports. The sport occurrence is not rare, and a White Radiance was soon reported from Miami, which investigation proved to be a fake. Then came a Texas report, and White Radiances from all over, the last and worst of them having been run down within a few months as nothing more or less than a Kaiserin Auguste Viktoria renamed, despite its total difference of habit, shape, and general character.

The rose-swindler will keep busy with Radiance, but it may be assumed that until the American Rose Society's Registration Committee has accepted any rose as a White Radiance, or a Yellow Radiance, "there ain't no such animile." This is said with much confidence and assertion, because registrations which have been offered by sincere, honest members of the Society, first for Yellow Radiance and then for White Radiance, were withdrawn when it was found that the parentage was not as claimed.

Now comes that able and persistent worker, Dr. J. H. Nicolas, certainly a most painstaking and successful hybridizer who, in answering a query as to Radiance possibilities writes: "Radiance is the most obstinate and selfish breeder. I have, perhaps, done more Radiance breeding than anyone else on earth, and got nowhere. It seems as if the color and plant characters were welded together, and, like Mary and her little lamb, one goes where the other does."

Then Dr. Nicholas gives the detailed history of his attempts, working through several generations to preserve the globular form and the growth characters of John Cook's inspired rose. He has worked with the Pernetiana group and in every other direction, using not only Radiance itself but its sports. He ends his observations by saying—"I have given up breeding Radiance as a bad job."

This does not mean that yellow or white Radiance roses are impossible. "Accidents do and will happen." This is here written so that members of the American Rose Society can look with justified suspicion on any offers of other Radiance varieties than Radiance, Red Radiance, and Mrs. Charles Bell (sometimes wrongly called "Salmon Radiance.")