Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

Merry Christmas to you all! We will begin our tradition of celebrating the 12 days of Christmas starting tomorrow. In whatever way you celebrate this season, may you find moments of rest and happiness.

Blessings to you and yours,

Jim Sproul

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Smooth Hulthemias

If you have experience with 'Tigris' (the common ancestor to all of my Hulthemia hybrids), you know that it is anything but smooth.  In fact, with it's rambling habit, it seems to actually reach out and grab onto you when you walk by it.  It's curved pickles make it especially difficult to disentangle yourself from it.  Although I have had a few Hulthemia seedlings along the way that have been quite smooth, most of them had smaller nearly indistinct blotches.  Though not always the case, the seedlings with the better blotches seem to have the more prickly stems.

In the photo below, is a seedling that I have liked for it's blotch size and unusual coloring.  The second photo shows it's characteristically prickly stem in greater detail.  Though it is fully remontant, it's habit is reminiscent of the earlier once blooming types, having canes ambling all over the place.

Because of the thorny connection to good blotches, I was very pleased this year to find the seedling show below.  Though it is closer to a mini in size, it has one of the largest and darkest blotches that I have seen to date.  And if you look closely, you will not see any thorns along it's stems or peduncles.  As an added bonus, it has very good blotch heat stability.  The last photo, taken in cooler weather to show the intensity of the blotch, is unfortunately not very clear since it was taken with my iPhone 3GS.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Greenhouse Unloading Preparations

Soon, it will be time to clean out the greenhouse of all of the surviving 2011 rose seedlings.  The last of the culls, much larger plants than the earlier culls, filled our green waste container.

A week ago, I finished tagging the survivors, 250 in all.  We really don't have room for that many new seedlings.  That means that many of the seedlings that have been saved from years passed will have to go.

For the last few years, I have been using the metal tags shown below (the best that I have found so far) to tag seedlings.  I attach a piece of plastic ribbon so that the tags are easier to find when the plants begin to grow out in the springtime.  "Color-coordinating" each year's seedlings has made for easier identification.  Last year was orange, and the year before was bright pink.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Hulthemia Traits, the Good and the Bad

This new 2011 seedling shown below is probably the showiest Hulthemia that I have had to date.  Because I liked it so much, I propagated it early (click here to see first bloom).  These blooms are on a 10 inch cutting, and there were a total of 5 blooms in the cluster, so it appears to be fairly floriferous even at a smaller stage.  To me the coloring looks almost brushed on.  

Unfortunately, this seedling also seems to be carrying some of the "bad" baggage that is sometimes seen in the modern Hulthemia hybrids.  It seems to have a tendency to dieback.  This is a characteristic of 'Tigris'.  Although it might represent an adaptive trait in desert type environments for the original species where dieback would protect the plant from dying due to lack of water, it certainly is not a good trait in modern Hulthemia hybrids.

Fortunately, I have seen that many of the offspring of seedlings with dieback, do not have dieback themselves.  This seedling will therefore probably still have its place in the lineage of future Hulthemias.  There is another new Hulthemia that I hope to cross it with. It is vigorous, healthy, and sets a ton of hips. If it's germination proves to be good, it will be used extensively in the coming year.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

'Thrive!' and 'Eyeconic Lemonade'

It is very exciting to stand in a field of roses, among which are some of your very own seedlings.  I remember exactly where the original seedlings of 'Thrive!' and 'Eyeconic Lemonade' sprouted in the greenhouse.  Both seedlings stood out from the others.

I still have the two original seedlings.  It is truly amazing how it is possible to make so many exact clones in such a short time.  Thank you Star Roses® for seeing a future in my roses.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Hulthemia Restaurant

I couldn't help but snap this photo when I saw the praying mantis waiting so patiently.  Judging by the size of it, the location must have been a great place for finding grub!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Joy In the Midst of Harvest

Harvesting rose hips, especially thousands of them, is not my idea of having a fun time.  However, this past week I have discovered that my previously, nearly completely uncooperative, best Hulthemia, has turned out to be a very good pollen parent this year.

This Hulthemia seedling bears the largest, most heat stable blotch that I have seen to date. Additionally, it is one a the cleanest seedlings that I have.  However, it has never set a hip, and up until this year, its code name "M62", was the most frequent code that I saw on the tags of failed pollinations lying on the ground.  In fact, the first year that I used it as a pollen parent, there were no hips collected.  Last year I collected only 20 hips from all of the crosses that I made with it.  There were a total of only 72 seeds extracted and just 27 seedlings that sprouted.  Several of these have superior blotches and will be kept for further evaluation.

This year, I am not yet finished harvesting and already have more than 100 hips collected where M62 was used as a pollen parent.

So what made the difference?  I am not certain, but wonder whether the unusually cooler spring weather allowed better pollen production, or perhaps the temperatures were more conducive to producing successful pollinations.  In addition to the better success with M62, I have noted that this year several less cooperative roses are showing an increased number of open pollinated hips.

The photos below are of M62.  The first photo shows the very first bloom on the immature seedling, the second is a later mature bloom, and the final photo was taken outside this year in late July, showing its blotch's very good heat stability. It can be seen that the blotch occupies more than 50% of the petal. Many of the crosses this year were with striped seed parents, so hopefully there will be several striped Hulthemias in the upcoming batch of seedlings.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Path Break - Indian Corn By The Dozen

Though this blog is subtitled "A path to new roses.....", now and then I intend to take a side path.  This side path highlights the Indian Corn that I just picked today.  Husking each of the cobs was surprisingly enjoyable.  I have to admit that it was almost as much fun as viewing brand new rose seedlings for the very first time.  Much like waiting for each tiny rose bud to unfurl, opening each husk produced a feeling of anticipation.  Each multi-colored cob was unique, always different from all of the others.  This harvest time reminded me that cooler weather is just around the corner, and I am looking forward to it!

Now I you think that multi-colored sweet corn could find a market?? Please don't tell my wife that I'm thinking about it!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

'Thrive!' Drive

'Thrive!', a healthy descendent of the 'Knock Out'® rose, is a new landscape type rose that is being introduced by Star Roses in 2012.  The 17 'Thrive!' roses lining our driveway were planted earlier this year.  The photos in this post were taken today, July 30, 2011, in Bakersfield, California.  I am pleased with how it is performing despite the usual hot summer weather that we have been having.

The parentage of 'Thrive!' is ('Marmalade Skies' X 'Baby Love') X 'Home Run'.  This variety has excellent disease resistance in Bakersfield, to the powdery mildew and blackspot prevalent here, and has good disease resistance in other locations tested, getting some blackspot on the East Coast, but still holding onto most of its foliage.

The foliage and blooms are nicer during the spring bloom cycle, but IMHO it's not doing too badly now either.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Hulthemia Holy Grail - Blotch Heat Stability

When breeding for Hulthemia hybrids, it is the blotch that is the focus of one's attention.  Seedlings lacking blotches, or those having smaller or more faint blotches are quickly looked over when a bolder, larger blotch catches the eye.  Selecting for those seedlings only, that have the eye popping blotch, results in very few seedlings that remain after the initial culling process is complete.

It can be quite disappointing therefore when the blotches "disappear" on many of these select few seedlings.  Unfortunately, that happens quite frequently.

Both of the above seedlings had good to excellent blotches when they first bloomed earlier this year as new seedlings.  Notes on their markers indicate comments like "great blotch", or "wow".  As can be seen currently, however, there is nothing "wow" about either of these two seedlings (the same can be said for most of the other "select few").

I am convinced now that the condition that contributes most to blotch fading is the higher nighttime minimum temperatures present during the summer months.  Initially, I had thought that maybe it was the greater light intensity or hotter daytime temperatures that were the cause for the blotch "disappearance".  Over the last few years though I have noted that good blotches typically return in October.  That has been true even when the daytime temperatures in October have been over 100º F (unfortunately not a rare occurrence in Bakersfield).  In October, despite high daytime temperatures, nighttime temperatures usually drop into the mid-60's or lower.  It appears then, that sustained nighttime temperatures above 70º F have the greatest effect on blotch fade, and the higher the temperature the more important the impact.

'Eyeconic™ Lemonade', as seen below in a photo taken today, has some degree of fade, but it is not as pronounced as in the seedlings in the photos above.  'Eyeconic™ Lemonade' has been useful in producing other nice yellow Hulthemias, some of which seem to exhibit good heat stability.

The seedlings in the following photos are all exhibiting improved heat stability.  These will be used heavily in future breeding while I continue to search for the Hulthemia Holy Grail.

All of the photos in this post were taken on July 23, 2011, after having warm summer-type weather in Bakersfield, California.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Informal Floribundas

The first rose depicted below is not a Hulthemia.  It is one of my favorite informal floribunda type seedlings for our area.  It blooms profusely and doesn't get any powdery mildew.  Unfortunately, it does get blackspot.  The other disappointment is that while it blooms profusely and sets hips well, the germination rate is close to ZERO.

It's parentage is [('Marmalade Skies' X 'Baby Love') X ('Stainless Steel' X 'Baby Love')] X 'Julia Child'.

The next seedling is new this year and is a Hulthemia.  There are several from this cross that have many petalled informal type blooms that are showing a hint of the Hulthemia blotch at the base of their petals.  My favorite is a larger pink one, but I don't have any photos of it yet.

This one is from a cross of [('Marmalade Skies' X 'Baby Love') x 'Julia Child'] X [({[('Orangeade' X 'Abraham Darby') X 'Midnight Blue'] X ('Geisha' X 'Baby Love')} X {[('Orangeade' X 'Abraham Darby') X 'Midnight Blue'] X 'Persian Sunset'}) X "mixed Hulthemia pollen"].

And it's fragrant.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Hulthemia Line

The Hulthemia blotch has fascinated many of us ever since Harkness and Cocker released their first hybrids.  In this post, I wanted to highlight something else that I am seeing in the Hulthemia hybrids - it is the Hulthemia line.

In several of the newer seedlings, I am seeing what appears to be an alternate representation of the blotch into what looks more like a line than a blotch.  Some of the seedlings are still showing a blotch at the base of their petals, however, others are just exhibiting a darker line down the center of their petals without any other evidence of the blotch.

I suspect that this line, through subsequent generations of selective breeding, can be darkened and emphasized.  Do you think that it is worth pursuing?!

Monday, July 4, 2011

'First Impression' Proving To Be Quite Clean

This is a short departure from writing about the new Hulthemias, to write about an older seedling.  With this post, I wanted to highlight the disease resistance that I am seeing in a seedling from 6 years ago that has been named 'First Impression'.  'First Impression' is a dark yellow floribunda, introduced by Nor'East, and now carried by Greenheart Farms.  It has surprisingly good disease resistance - especially in our climate, but I am getting good reports from other areas of the country too.

The photo above was taken with my iPhone during a trip to Greenheart earlier this year.  I took a video of the plant (unfortunately after its peak bloom) to show its disease resistance in our non-sprayed rose garden.  Click here to see the video.  'First Impression' is the second rose in the video and has all of its foliage.  The first rose is heavily defoliated, while the third rose (actually a fairly clean rose too) has several leaves showing blackspot.  'First Impression' doesn't have a single blackspot on it.  For those interested in breeding yellow roses, I would suggest using this one.  There haven't been a lot of hips on 'First Impression' in my experience, but for some reason, most of our roses have produced an abundance of OP hips this year including 'First Impression.  I would mainly use it as a pollen parent, but who knows, maybe you could also get lucky and get good hips on it too!

'First Impression' came from a cross of [('Lynn Anderson' X 'Tournament of Roses') X 'Hot Tamale'] X ('Stainless Steel' X 'Baby Love').  Other than from 'Baby Love', I am not sure where it is getting its good disease resistance.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Brief Study of Hulthemia Petal Color Distribution

For anyone already reading this blog, it is clear that the characteristic defining difference between regular roses and Hulthemia rose hybrids is the darker blotch seen at the base of the petals in the Hulthemia hybrids.  The blotch though, has several variations, all of which have the potential for offering new distributions of color on rose petals.

Several different distributions of color can be seen in the photo below.  This is by no means a complete representation of the various color distributions that are possible with the Hulthemia hybrids, but it does show a range of the possibilities.

All of these have at least a hint of the blotch, but on closer look, it can be seen that besides the obvious difference in color of the petals, there are also different distributions of the blotch color and accompanying petal coloration patterns.  To more easily discuss these differences, I have repeated the above photo of Hulthemia petals with numbers attached to each of the petals and copied it below.

Probably the most classic representation of the blotch is seen in petal 19.  There is a good solid blotch that goes all the way to the base of the petal and it has a distinct outer edge about 1/3 of the way to the petal edge.

Variations on this pattern include those with a lighter coloring just outside the blotch zone.  The lighter color really helps to accentuate the blotch.  Examples of this variation are petals 6, 9, 10, 13, 14, 16, 18 and 21.   You might include petal 7 in this group, and you would probably be right.  I think it is a bit different though because it also has a fairly larger separation from the blotch and the petal base.  The blotch that remains is barely visible, but it is there.  Others that have a "cut-off" zone of the blotch from the petal base include petals 1, 5, 6, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 21, 24, and 25.  You might throw in a few others with more subtle "cut offs".  This effect is less noticeable on more mature seedlings.

Another variation is a kind of "streaking" of the blotch out to most of the rest of the petal.  Examples of this pattern can be seen in petals 3, 5, 17, 22, and 25.  Not seen in these examples is another more gradual blending of the blotch as it fades (rather than "streaks") out further on the petal. This can be seen in the photo below of petals from J93-3.

Finally, some of the petals are showing more of the blotch going outward along the center of the petals simulating the appearance of a "line" (I will mention more about this in a later post), examples include petals 1, 3, 5, and 11.

For the fun of it, I included petal 23 in this photo.  As seen in an earlier post, it is possible to combine striping with the blotch.

The last 2 photos show the streaking effect in better detail.  In these seedlings the blotch is not as dramatic as in the more classic type Hulthemia blotch.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hulthemia Petals - Front and Back

Here are more Hulthemia petals coming from some of the new 2011 seedlings.

As is seen above, the reverse is almost always lighter than the top side of the petal.  Additionally, I have never seen the blotch pigment on the reverse side.  I am hoping that it will be possible though, so will continue to keep my eyes opened for it!  I think that a reverse blotch would be especially nice on otherwise typical exhibition type blooms.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Effect of Petal Count on Hulthemia Bloom Presentation

Just like regular roses, Hulthemias come in all types of bloom forms - there are singles, to semidoubles, all the way up to hundred petal types.  In working with these, I have seen that the single petal blooms, those having 5 petals, provide the clearest, unobstructed view of the blotch.

While those with many petals, can hide the blotch altogether.

In these, the blotch is only visible by removing the petals.

For me, the most attractive presentation of the blotch is seen in semidouble style blooms, where there are only 10 to 20 petals.

What do you think?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Hulthemia with Unusually Shaped Petals

This seedling was a happy surprise!  It's always a special treat getting something that I have never seen before. It's like finding a different, but pleasant flavor in a box of chocolates that you have never tasted. The petal shape reminds me of a chrysanthemum.  So far the plant appears to be quite clean (no powdery mildew), and since it has a good blotch, it will probably be a "keeper" among this years new seedlings.

What do you think?

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Tiniest Hulthemia

This is by far the smallest Hulthemia seedling that I have grown.  The height of the plant is not as tall as the thickness of my hand.  There are two open blooms, a third bloom opening, and a 4th bud about to open.  I cannot yet tell whether or not there will be a blotch.  Even so, just for the sake of it's novelty, I will continue to watch this one as long as it survives. At least it won't take up that much extra room!

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Hulthemia in the Striped Pajamas

This seedling, code named N210-1, sprouted last year.  It came from a batch of "OP" seeds from one of my earlier repeat blooming Hulthemias.  I have no idea what the pollen parent was, but clearly, this was not the result of a self pollination.  I had been trying for the two previous years to come up with a striped Hulthemia, and though I got a couple of them, neither was as good as this one.

It appears to have a plant habit and quantity of bloom similar to 'Ballerina'.  It has a couple of real bonuses too: it seems to be one of my cleanest Hulthemia seedlings, and it has an abundance of pollen, making it ideal for use in further breeding).  As expected, it has been put to work quite a lot this year.

P.S. This idea was inspired independently by my daughter Claire, who was 10 years old at the time, and by my favorite mentor in rose breeding, Mr. Ralph Moore (forever young at heart), who was 100 years old at the time!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Most Remarkable Blotch

Among the new 2011 seedlings today, I had the opportunity to encounter one of the most intense blotches that I have seen thus far in the Hulthemia hybrids.  The petal color on this seedling, code named "O343", is a light cream, with a fairly large, deeply maroon blotch.

As with other very dark rose seedlings, it is possible that this blotch will burn in full sunlight.  Even so, the size and intensity of this seedling's blotch destine it to become an important parent for future generations.

Previous experience has shown that blotch size increases with maturity.  Up until now, the Hulthemia seedling with the largest, most intense blotch has been M40-1.  In the photos below it is easy to appreciate the change of the blotch as seen in the first immature bloom to that of the more mature plant grown outside.

Of note, the seedling at the top of this post, "O343", was the result of a cross made between two new seedlings from 2010. Using superior immature Hulthemia hybrid seedlings in crosses during their first year, has helped to shorten generation time and has produced some good results.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Peak Bloom at the Sproul Rose Farm

The warmer weather has brought on the peak bloom rather quickly.  Approximately 1/3 of the 1,000 potted roses seen here are new 2010 rose seedlings that were brought outside the greenhouse for further evaluation.  They survived scrutiny in the greenhouse where more than 95% of the 2010 seedling roses were eliminated.  The rest of these are seedling roses from previous years.

My goal over the next few weeks will be to cull out 1/3 to 1/2 of these, so that only the best of the best remain.  We were fortunate to get just the right amount of downy mildew this year - not so much that the seedlings lost all their leaves, but enough to differentiate the resistant ones from the susceptible ones.  Also, keeping the pots jammed rather closely together has helped to promote blackspot.  All of this has provided a better opportunity to get a much better read on which roses are performing the best with respect to disease resistance to downy mildew, blackspot and powdery mildew.  Some of the roses are spotless.  It is from these that I would like to carry the breeding program forward.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

More Hulthemia Blooms

The first 3 photos below are of more 2011 Hulthemias.  The last 2 are photos of two Hulthemias from 2010 that are blooming for the first time outside of the greenhouse.

The first seedling pictured below bloomed a few days ago, while the second one bloomed today.

The last photo of the 2011 Hulthemias, is of petals from the best striped Hulthemia to show up so far.

Next, are photos of the 2010 Hulthemias blooming for the first time outside of the greenhouse.

The first one is of a mini single.  It stays very compact and seems to put on a good bloom display.

The last Hulthemia pictured below appears to be a spreading shrub type.  The blotch eye-zone is quite distinct and with good saturation of the blotch coloring.