Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The French Connection

So yes, this post is about an important French connection.  The connection happened about a year ago when pollen was collected from an interesting species rose in a French rose garden (see post Using Unknown Pollen).  The rose was labeled Rosa arvensis.  However, several rose breeders familiar with that species did not think that the specimen was correctly identified.  Nevertheless, to me it appeared to be the cleanest and most floriferous rose in the species garden.  Pollen was collected from about 10 flower buds to make crosses.  At that time, I did not know whether the species was remontant or not, or whether it would even be fertile.

From about 100 pollinations onto 6 different seed parents, 820 seeds were collected and planted this past January.  Presumably due to an incompatibility of the species with my seed parents, germination was significantly reduced as seen below.  On the right side of the seedling bench the same seed parent was planted in groups where various pollens were used.  The "Rosa arvensis" seedlings are in the space with the fewest germinations.

After the seedlings started to grow, it was apparent that most of the seedlings would be nonremontant and would not bloom for another 1 or more years.  

Sprinkled here and there however, were a few seedlings that were forming flower buds.  The orange and pink seedlings seen in the above photo are not seedlings of "Rosa arvensis", but are from nearby other crosses.  The first "Rosa arvensis" seedling to bloom is shown below.

As the nonremontant seedlings continued to grow, it was very apparent that they would soon overgrow and smother the few seedlings that were blooming, so these were removed and planted into pots.  They will be evaluated next spring and the best of these will be kept for future breeding.

With the nonremonant seedlings removed, there will be plenty of room for the repeat blooming "Rosa arvensis" seedlings to grow and develop.

Below are photos of blooms of four other repeat blooming seedlings of "Rosa arvensis".  Knowing that the seed parents were orange and dark red, it is clear that the creamy white color coming from "Rosa arvensis" is a strong trait.

I was very glad to find that a remontant gene could be recovered from the "Rosa arvensis" pollen parent.  There are some early signs that a couple of these will be floriferous.  I will post photos of them next spring.

Thursday, May 19, 2016


Sweet Minnie, writing about a dog, not a rose this time, a special dog, our family dog.

You've had such a full life ever since you were rescued many years ago.  You grew up right along side our kids.  Always the alpha dog, you loved people, but you didn't get along well with other dogs.  However, with some effort, you accepted Zelda the cat and Dusty the horse into the family, and even grew fond of Lola, our son and daughter-in-law's Maltipoo.  An adventurer at heart, we lost you a few years ago and after 3 weeks, we thought that you would be lost forever.  But, to my wife Heather's great relief and joy, you were returned to us on Mothers Day.

This morning, as I had an early start today, the only one up with me at 5:30 AM as I prepared my morning smoothie was you.  Your appetite has always remained strong and you were eager and hopeful to receive any gift that you might be given.  Your alert and knowing eyes seemed sharp as ever.  Before leaving for work, knowing that today was to be the day, I was very glad to find fresh carrots in the refrigerator.  Carrots have always been one of your favorite treats.  You were visibly excited with anticipation when you saw me pull a carrot out.  Obediently, you laid down as commanded to obtain the prize.  Over the last few months, your walking and positioning has become progressively more awkward and difficult so that you sort of collapsed down onto the floor to get into a lying position.  I placed the carrot in front of you so that you didn't have to get back up because getting up from a lying position has become so much more burdensome for you recently.  You tried, but were unable to trap the carrot between your paws, as was your custom to eat it, but you were able to hold it down with one paw and seemed to relish it just as much as always.  When you saw me pick up my keys to leave, you stumbled getting up.  Following me to the door, you stumbled again once or twice before getting there so that I could let you out.  I think that you've always liked the early, cooler mornings as much as I do.  Before leaving, I held your head in my hands, and looking into your eyes, said goodbye.  

We will miss you Minnie. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Naming a Rose - Up for Auction!

Sproul Roses by Design has offered some of our roses for naming by the highest bidder at several local fundraiser auctions for nonprofits over the last 10 years.  Our newest rose that is up for auction this Friday is shown here.

More details about the dinner event and how to get tickets can be found on Facebook at To Africa, With Love.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Salvaged Treasures

Every year when the seedling benches are being emptied in the fall to get ready for planting the new rose seeds, there are a handful of seedlings from important crosses that germinated late and were too small to evaluate.  Most years, some of these will get put into small 5 inch pots and moved out to the "salvage" yard.  This area is on the other side of the greenhouse where I don't get to on a daily basis.  As a result, these salvaged seedlings are often neglected.  Sometimes the water malfunctions, and many seedlings meet their demise by getting too dry.  Perhaps some of the survivors will have better drought tolerance.

The two seedlings shown below are moving up to big pots so that they can show their true potential.  The first appears to be a mini and has a very large blotch.

The second seedling looks like a real treasure.  It is from one of the 'Darlow's Enigma' Hulthemia crosses.  What I like about this one is that it looks like it wants to be floriferous like 'Darlow's Enigma', and it is the only Hulthemia from 'Darlow's Enigma' that has the wonderful Darlow's fragrance.  I can't wait 'til this one matures!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Raindrops on Roses

Last Friday and Saturday we had an amazing amount of rain where it poured both nights for several hours and we even had quite a lot of thunder and lightning (reminiscent of my college days in Tulsa).  The fresh air following the rain was wonderful and the roses seemed to enjoy it too.  Here are a few newer seedlings opening up to take advantage of a break in the weather.

The first seedling is of a cross of L56-1 by a pink fragrant rugosa bred by Mr. Ralph Moore.  He gave me cuttings of the rugosa pollen parent several years ago.  L56-1 is a red single mini and was bred from 'Thrive!'.  The seedling shown below is a very vigorous mini and has clean rugosa type foliage.

The next seedling is second generation from "Basye's Thornless" and has a smaller Hulthemia blotch.  Another grandparent is 'Knock Out'.  It is low on thorns, but not thornless and clean, but gets hints of blackspot.  The coloring is more pronounced in the fall when the petals have darker edging.

The last photo is of a seedling that resulted from a cross between two of my Hulthemia seedlings. It opens white, but as the bloom ages, the white becomes pink.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Working with Clean Genes

For the last few years, I have been putting a lot of effort into cleaning up the Hulthemia hybrids.  I have made crosses between the Hulthemias and 'Darlow's Enigma', "Basye's Thornless" and the Knock Out family of roses.  I'm not sure why it is, but the Hulthemia blotch seems to be less visible in seedlings when resulting from crosses with these cleaner roses.  Nevertheless, I keep trying.  

This is the first time that I am seeing the 2015 seedling shown below blooming outside.  'Knock Out' is a grandparent.

Though not as pretty, the brand new seedling shown below, is a 2016 seedling blooming for the first time inside the greenhouse.  It is a first generation 'Knock Out' seedling and has the best blotch that I have seen in direct first generations descendants.  As it matures, I expect the blotch to get bigger and more defined. 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Invasion of the Caterpillars!

One year it was whiteflies, another year it was earwigs, this year we are overrun with caterpillars at the no-spray Sproul Rose Farm.  They are devouring buds and new growth like crazy.  Certain seedlings appear to be more affected than others, I suppose that they are tastier, where all of the developing flower buds are gone!

Since I have not sprayed at all outside of the greenhouse for many years, I am not going to start now.  Instead, I am getting outside morning and evening, picking the caterpillars off the seedlings using tweezers.

No doubt, this last caterpillar has already engorged himself on many developing rose buds, and is on his way up this stem in search of another meal.  I am happy to say that he did not make it to his next meal...

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Blooming Inside and Out!

The 2015 seedlings that were potted up and move outside of the greenhouse have started to bloom.  Soon, it will be a riot of color.

Here is one of my favorites so far.  It came from a cross of 'Singin' in the Rain' X [('Marmalade Skies' X 'Baby Love') X 'First Impression'].  Based on the size of the bloom on this young plant, I think that it will be a hybrid tea.  I have 3 seedlings from this cross that I have kept for further evaluation. 

The next seedling is a brand new 2016 seedling that is blooming for the first time today.  It's pollen parent is 'Knock Out' and this is the best blotch so far that I've seen on a direct 'Knock Out' seedling.

As you can see, it's anthers have been removed.  Though perhaps premature, I decided to use it's pollen in a cross today.  I like to move interesting seedlings into breeding quickly in order to save time.  Sometimes it pays off, sometimes it doesn't!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Beautiful Spring Foliage

Don't you love fresh new spring foliage?!  There is so much hopefulness in it.  

Seen below, the rose seedlings at the Sproul Rose Farm are about to bloom.  With our "el nino" weather, I have been worrying about the dreaded downy mildew fungus showing up again this year (and some seedlings are showing signs of it).  Hopefully, with the warmer weather that we have been enjoying, the outbreak will be minimal since I do not spray.

Here are some closeups of some of my favorites.  The first is of a rugosa mini coming from L56-1 x Mr. Ralph Moore's "Pink Fragrant Rugosa".

The next is from a complex cross having 'Double Knock Out' as a grandparent on the seed parent side by a cross of a seedling coming from 'Gemini' x 'First Impression' on the pollen parent side. 

Seen below is another favorite seedling that is totally thornless coming from a cross of a 'Darlow's Enigma' Hulthemia seedling by a "Basye's Thornless" Hulthemia seedling.  It has interesting grey-green foliage.

And, lastly, my absolute favorite seedling with regard to foliage (the blooms however are not that exciting) coming from a cross of L56-1 x "Basye's Thornless".

Sunday, March 13, 2016

First Seedling to Bloom 2016

It has begun!  This is the first bloom with many more to come in the next few weeks.  Not sure if I can keep up with it all - but it sure is fun!

I couldn't help trying out the watercolor enhancement in Photoshop.  Someday I may take up painting again.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Blooms and Fruit Coming Soon!

It was just 2 1/2 weeks ago that I noticed the first rose bud forming on the new seedlings.   Now, there are many more forming, and that means that the blooms are not far off.  Soon the sepals on the seedlings below will start to break open and reflex, showing the petals beneath. Will there be an attractive color, a pleasant fragrance?

There are other seedlings blooming and about to bloom.  These are not roses, but are from other seeds that were planted in 2014.  The first below is coming from lilac seeds.  Although I have 7 lilac seedlings, this is the only one that will be blooming this year.  Hopefully, the others will bloom next year.  Wouldn't it be nice if lilacs bloomed throughout the year like roses?

The next seedlings are blueberry seedlings.  I have many more of these, and several are forming fruit for the first time this year.  They were mentioned in a post in 2014 when they were being potted up out of the rose seedlings beds (see Hulthemia Persica Seedlings (Part 3)).

Lastly, in the photo below, there is a seedlings coming from the blueberry variety named "Pink Lemonade".  It has unusual foliage coloration.  It is not developing fruiting flower buds this year, but I will keep it based on it's interesting foliage.  Hopefully, it will produce fruit next year.  

Monday, February 29, 2016

Path Break - Amaryllis

So, what does this post have to do with rose breeding?  Not much, but it is about planting seeds, and amaryllis are flowers, and, I wanted to make a post on February 29th since this is a leap year!

We always grow an amaryllis during the Christmas season.  We usually buy a "red" one, but almost always we get a light orange one.  This year we got a red one named "Mammoth Red".  It turn out being true to it's name and looked just like the photo.  There were actually 2 blooming stalks and each stalk had 4 flowers (sorry I didn't get a photo of ours, but it really did look like the photo below).  So I decided to try my luck at getting seeds.  I looked at a couple of youtube videos, followed the directions, and viola!  We have amaryllis sprouts!

It took 6 or 7 weeks for the seed pods to ripen, and they produced these black papery seeds.

After harvesting, the seeds were allowed to dry for 3 days and then planted.  Another 3 weeks later (just like the youtube videos said), they have started sprouting.  There were 7 baby amaryllis that I counted when I took this photo (can you find them all?).  Now, I just have to wait 2 or 3 years to see the first blooms.  This is a fun side-experiment, but not near as fun as rose breeding!  So my advice to you, is consider planting amaryllis seeds, but I suspect that you will get more fun and quicker results planting rose seeds.  Give it a try!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Seedlings of Happenstance

As is typical of most years, the first pollinations of the year are based on what is blooming at the time.  2015 was no exception.  Last year there were 2 seedlings that were blooming early that I had not consider to combine in a cross.  However, since they were blooming, I decided, "why not?!"  The seed parent was Q199-1 (a single petalled Hulthemia), while the pollen parent that I used was P15-1 (a very double, bright yellow mini).  More detailed descriptions can be found in the post entitled, "First Pollination of 2015".  It turns out that the very first pollination ended up failing, meaning that the hip dried up and fell off before any seeds had formed.  However, after making the cross, I decided to repeat it several times, such that at the end of the pollinating season, there were 31 hips forming that ended up producing 481 seeds.  Of these, so far 266 seedlings have sprouted.  Had the parents not been the first roses to bloom, I would not have made the cross.  Perhaps something beautiful will come out of this cross of happenstance.  :)

It won't be long and these will be blooming!

The very first flower bud of the year was seen yesterday on another cross that germinated a bit earlier (see below).