Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Lo How a Rose e're Blooming

'Lo how a rose e're blooming', one of my favorite old Christmas songs, speaks of Mary giving birth to Jesus, the savior of the world.  Viewing the infant, we see the man/God hanging on the cross, died for the sins of all.  I am thankful remembering this today.

Here are 2 roses blooming now, outside and in the greenhouse.  The first is a floribunda that will be named shortly, while the second is a Hulthemia that has an unusually large blotch.  It is being tested along with a Hulthemia sister seedling.  Coming from a smaller family of seedlings, they are two of the best 3 Hulthemias this year.  You know that I will be repeating this cross more extensively in the coming Spring.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Best 2012 Hulthemia Seedling

Though only time will truly tell whether this seedling is really good, this one appears to be the best new Hulthemia seedling from the 2012 growing season. As previously discussed, blotch size increases and intensifies as Hulthemia seedlings mature. This photo was taken when the seedling was only about 6 months old. I expect that the blotch will be even better next spring.

The parentage includes ‘Cal Poly’ crossed with a Hulthemia seedling on the seed parent side, and the pollen parent was from a mix of Hulthemia pollen coming from the best Hulthemia seedlings of last year. Because of its plant habit and clusters of blooms, I suspect that the pollen parent was O225-1 (a photo of this seedling can be seen in the previous post).

Saturday, September 15, 2012

2012 Harvest

Harvest is almost finished. Most of the rose hips are at least starting to change color, from green to yellow/orange, but some have remained green. Nevertheless, I have been ready to harvest, so ready or not.....

 The tags that were used to mark the crosses are discarded when the hips are harvested. I did more crosses this year than I had intended, but I think that happens nearly every year.

Some varieties may still appear green on the outside of the hips despite being ripe on the inside. In the second photo below of hips of K58-1, you can easily see the orange (ripe) coloring beneath the surface where the peduncles have been snapped off.

One of the Hulthemias I had to harvest a bit early. It has had an apparent bad case of “dieback” (I mentioned this trait last year in “Hulthemia Traits, the Good and the Bad”. Most Hulthemia varieties do not suffer from dieback, but for those that do, it can be quite severe. In this case, it appears to have killed the plant. Earlier this Spring, it set hips very nicely and all of them were developing as expected and then, all of a sudden, the plant appeared to just die! All of the shriveled hips were harvested in hopes that something would germinate next year.

I suspect that a fungus is responsible for the dieback. In the photos below, you can see blacken areas on the canes. This apparent fungus seems to kill the canes similar to the way that downy mildew kill canes, by girdling them. It seems to be present during the hottest weather rather than in cooler weather when downy mildew is active. I have no idea what it is.

The Hulthemia highlighted in the post referenced above in “Hulthemia Traits, the Good and the Bad”, has the code name O225-1. Although it gets a bit of dieback, it survives it and puts on a nice display. The photo of it as seen below was taken on 9-9-12. It clearly has good heat stability since the blotch hasn’t faded in our very hot Summer of 2012. This one produces hips with an alligator skin surface (seen further down), and has a good germination rate.

There are always a few crosses that are unsuccessful. These do not produce hips, but instead turn brown and dry-up on the plant. This failed cross (seen below), was not unexpected since the pollen parent was Rosa minutifolia. Of the several crosses that I made with it, only one hip formed on ‘Pearl Sanford’. However hopeful that I may be for that cross to be successful, I am taking bets that none of the seedlings that germinate (if any do!), will be true hybrids with R. minutifolia. Only one other time have I seen a hip produced with pollen from R. minutifolia and all of the seedlings that sprouted were clearly not hybrids, indicating that the seeds probably resulted from self pollination. The hip can be seen below in my set-up for sorting hips. It is the single hip in the pot all the way to the right.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Striped Anthers!

Well actually, I suppose the anthers themselves are not striped, but I noticed a peculiar thing with this new striped Hulthemia seedling: it has 2 different colors of anthers. It seems that the lighter colored anthers are emanating from the regions containing the lighter colored stripes. Both the anthers and the filaments appear to be lighter colored. 

I don’t recall ever seeing this on other striped roses. Have you?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

And The Heat Goes On - Enduring Blotches

I have been known to curse our “dry heat” here in Bakersfield, not for it being dry, but for it feeling as hot as Hades sometimes! With regard to breeding for the Hulthemia blotch, our heat has been a blessing. 

One of the best Hulthemias on the market is named ‘Eye’s For You’ (please click on the link to see it at it’s best). It has a gorgeous bloom, with a very large and very dark purple blotch that suggests strong fragrance – and it doesn’t disappoint! It was bred in England by Peter James. The rainier, and cooler climate in England generally does not offer as much opportunity to assess Hulthemia seedlings’ blotch heat stability. So this post is not about disparaging 'Eyes For You'. There is another advantage that rose breeders in England have over those of us in Bakersfield. It is in selecting Hulthemias with better black spot resistance.

Below are photos of Hulthemia blossoms that I shot 4 days ago. All of the plants were growing in the same general vicinity outside of the greenhouse, and the blooms were all at the same stage of opening. All but one was from my Hulthemia seedlings from 2011. The other Hulthemia was ‘Eyes For You’. Can you guess which one it is?

It is the one in the middle.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

2012 Striped Hulthemias

Last year I shared a post about a striped Hulthemia (code named “N210-1”, a seedling that sprouted in 2010) that showed up among a batch of open pollinated Hulthemia seeds, meaning that a bee must have carried the pollen from a striped rose to the Hulthemia from which the seeds were collected (see The Hulthemia in the Striped Pajamas). Although I had been trying for a couple of years to get a good striped Hulthemia, none were as good as that open pollinated 2010 seedling.

Trying to improve on that one, I made many crosses last year between that seedling and several of the Hulthemias. I also did many crosses between the various Hulthemia seedlings and ‘Fourth of July’, and a couple of my own striped seedlings. I am happy to report that we have seen some improvements.

The first photo below is of a new seedling from 2011 resulting from a cross of N210-1 with mixed Hulthemia pollen. It was the only striped Hulthemia seedling that I kept last year and although the blotch was not that impressive, I kept it because there were no other good ones that compared with it. The mature bloom in the photo below, taken this morning, shows the blotch being much better developed than when I saw it as a new seedling last year. Its blotch as a new seedling was not as good as the blotches seen in the petals from the newest 2012 striped Hulthemia seedlings (seen further down in this post). I am hopeful that these will have blotches that will similarly improve as the seedlings mature.

In the next photo, several of the 2012 new striped Hulthemia petals can be seen.  We are starting to get more interesting colors.

The petals in the last photo shown below, are of of the best striped Hulthemia from this year.  It resulted from a cross between one of my striped seedlings and a Hulthemia code named "M62", one of the cleanest Hulthemias that we have had to date.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Blotch Heat Stability

As mentioned in a previous post (The Hulthemia Holy Grail - Blotch Heat Stability), the heat stability of the Hulthemia blotch is one of the biggest challenges in breeding for this group of rose hybrids.  The Hulthemia shown below was a brand new seedling in 2011 and got my attention when it first bloomed.  I made a post (A Most Remarkable Blotch) about this seedling last year.  This year it appears to have excellent blotch heat stability given the fact that last week on the 2 days prior to this bloom opening, the temperature was 102º F and 108º F, and then 102º F again on the day this photo was taken.  Like many of the other Hulthemias with improved blotches, this one doesn't seem to release any pollen.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Mixed Hulthemia Pollen - A Good Recipe!

Having produced many thousands of rose seedlings (unique roses resulting from planting rose seeds), I have tried to keep as complete records as possible, in order to trace the heritage of my seedlings.  Data on the pollen and seed parents, along with some other information are kept in MS Excel spreadsheets.  This allows me to trace a seedling's pedigree.  These kind of pedigrees are helpful when crossing various roses with one another if you have a particular objective in mind.

Not long after I started breeding Hulthemia roses, I observed that many cross pollinations failed to produce rose hips (hips are the fruit within which rose seeds develop).  Presumably this meant that the pollen or seed parent was of lower fertility or that there was some other incompatibility.  This made for a lot of work without much to show for it.  Realizing that when breeding for Hulthemias, it was the blotch trait that I was trying to capture, and was really not concerned with the heritage (just as long as one of the parents exhibited the blotch), I decided to mix the pollens of the best Hulthemias with each other and use the mixed pollen for cross pollinations.  This has allowed for a much better hip "take" (the hips stay on the plant to develop seeds) and a larger number of seedlings from which to select for use in further breeding. I think that this approach has allowed us to make quicker improvements in the Hulthemias by shortening the generation time.

Since each year we have been seeing progress in Hulthemia blotch development (blotch size, blotch intensity, and heat stability of the blotch), I have been using the mixed pollen of the newest (current year seedlings) that exhibit the best blotches.  I especially like doing this later in the breeding season (like now), in order to take advantage of those new seedlings that are exhibiting the best blotch heat stability.  Last year I posted more about how Hulthemias tend to lose their blotches in the heat in the post entitled The Hulthemia Holy Grail - Blotch Heat Stability.

Below is shown the pollen cup that I have been using to collect the pollen of the newest batch of Hulthemias that are showing the best blotches, even in our heat.  I have been applying this pollen to some of the best Hulthemia seed parents, as well as to non-Hulthemia parents, including 'Darlow's Engima', 'Sunny Knock Out', 'Francis Meilland', and some of my own non-Hulthemia seedlings.

Each day fresh pollen is collected from the best new 2012 Hulthemia seedlings.  The petals seen in the photos below represent 3 batches of Hulthemias that contributed their pollen for the cross pollination effort this year.  These are some of the best Hulthemias that I have seen and represent improvements over prior years.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Hulthemia Fertility - Update on Seedling "O352"

If you are familiar with the Hulthemias, it is easy to see why I wanted to use "O352" in further breeding:  It has one of the largest blotches that I have ever seen; the blotch is heat stabile (doesn't fade in the summer like most Hulthemias); it is fully remontant (blooms all summer); it doesn't get any powdery mildew; and, unlike the often vicious armor (thorns) seen with most Hulthemias, this one appears to be completely thornless (even the rachis are prickle free).
Note "O352" was mentioned in an earlier post The Largest Blotch A Dead End?

Time and time again, however, I had tried to get pollen from this particular seedling to use in breeding, but to no avail.  There was just no pollen released.  It is sterile as a pollen parent.

So, what do you do when you have a rose/Hulthemia that is pollen sterile?

Well, one of the wonderful things about roses is that they can be used as either a pollen parent (male parent), or a seed parent (female parent).  The very first Rose-Hulthemia hybrid that proved to be fertile was 'Tigris' (a once bloomer and a fairly weedy type plant),  but it too was pollen sterile.  It only worked as a seed parent.  Fortunately for all of us, when pollen was applied to 'Tigris' blooms, hips formed, yielding viable seeds. All of the new Hulthemia hybrids get their characteristic darker central blotch from 'Tigris'.

In the photo below, you can see some pollen spilling onto the petals of "O352".  Knowing that it does not produce pollen, you have probably guessed that I played the bee in this case, slopping pollen onto the stigmas.  You will notice too, that tags were hung from the peduncles, identifying the pollen parent(s).

In the second photo below, you can see that like 'Tigris', "O352" appears to be fertile as a seed parent.  Right now, there are many hips devoloping on it.  I am hopeful that the seeds forming within the hips will germinate when they are planted this coming winter.

You may be able to make out the writing on the tag as "Rx".  I use the "Rx" designation to indicate Radler genetics (Bill Radler is the breeder of the Knock Out series of roses known for their strong resistance to many of the fungal diseases that attack roses).  Rather than make many different crosses using the various pollens that I have from the Bill Radler group ('Knock Out', 'Double Knock Out', 'White Out', 'Sunny Knock Out', 'Carefree Sunshine', and 'Milwaukee's Calatrava'), I mix the pollen.  For me, the crucial thing is bringing in the genetics of cleanliness from these roses, rather than knowing the specific pollen parent.  "Rx" seemed to me to be a good description too, since Radler genetics are the right prescription for better health in roses (and Hulthemias)!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

'First Impression' Seedling

I have had the seedling shown below, code name "K147-2", for the last 5 years, and so far I have had very little luck in moving it forward in breeding anything worthwhile.  It is my cleanest Hybrid Tea type seedling with regard to powdery mildew, black spot, and downy mildew.  In our Bakersfield climate it doesn't appear to get any disease whatsoever.  

It is from a cross of 'Gemini' X 'First Impression'.  Someday I hope to match it with the right mate.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

'Darlow's Enigma' Seedlings Update

'Darlow's Enigma' has become my favorite hybrid musk type rose to use in breeding.  It is very clean, with only a bit of powdery mildew, it blooms profusely, and it has very good fragrance.  As a rose breeder, it has probably become my favorite due to its ability to set hips in crosses made with modern roses, and because it has a very good germination rate.  I first reported on my experiences with 'Darlow's Enigma' seedlings in an earlier post this year: Early Notes on Darlow's Enigma Seedlings.  

To recap, these seedlings all resulted from open pollination, there were 133 seeds from 25 hips, with 37 germinations.  Of these, 2 were clearly from pollinations with foreign pollen, because the leaf shape and texture was so different from the rest of the seedlings.  There were probably a couple of others that resulted from open pollination with 'Blue Mist' (a polyantha rose bred by Mr. Ralph Moore that I have that is growing intertwined with 'Darlow's Enigma') since the flower shape and coloring of them was more like 'Blue Mist' than 'Darlow's Enigma'.

Most of the seedlings have been culled - they grew too tall, didn't appear to be remontant, had too much powdery mildew, or had lower flower production.  There are now 7 that remain.  Since they were growing too vigorously to keep with the other seedlings, I decided to pull them out of the greenhouse seedling beds and transplanted them into 3 gallon pots (see photo below).  

Two of the survivors have many petalled pinkish blooms that I think were open pollinated from 'Blue Mist'. Another one that was saved has larger single blooms and is the seedling mentioned in the first post that had the glossier foliage.  The remaining 4 survivors were probably the result of self pollinations.  All of them have been blooming profusely, mostly nonstop, ever since they first started blooming 2 months ago as brand new seedlings.  The photo below shows how large the sprays can be even on these new seedlings.

The question that I hope to be able to answer next year is: "How well does 'Darlow's Enigma' accept expression of the Hulthemia blotch?"  I have been applying mixed pollen of the "best of the best" new Hulthemia seedlings from this year's batch.  I am happy to report that most of the pollinated blooms are producing hips.

I have a confession to make: it took me nearly half of the breeding season to realize that it was much easier to place a tag around the stem of a spray of 'Darlow's Enigma', than to place a tag on each one of the small peduncles!  For anyone who has tried pollinating 'Darlow's Enigma', you know how hard it is to place a string tag around one of its peduncles.  They seem to exude a resin with just enough stickiness to make it very difficult for the string to slide easily around the peduncle.  Yes, I broke off a couple of newly pollinated blooms trying to slip the string tags around the peduncles.  Now, each spray gets its own pollen parent tag!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

New 2012 Hulthemia Seedlings

There are a few new Hulthemia seedlings that have bloomed this year that have gotten my attention.  Below, I have included photos of two of them.

The first seedling shown below highlights how a lighter coloring around the blotch gives it better definition.

The next seedling, although it doesn't have a lighter color area surrounding the blotch, because the blotch is so large, it appears almost like a target.  If maturity causes the blotch to become 3 times as large and more intense (which is usually seen as Hulthemias mature), there will only be a smaller fringe of lighter pink when the seedling blooms outside next Spring.  I am hoping that this second seedling has good blotch color heat stability - we should know if that is the case in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

English Style Hulthemias

Yes, I am trying to get the Hulthemia blotch into all styles of roses, including "English Roses".  Last year there were a few seedlings that showed some promise along these lines.

The seed parent for this cross, code named "K155-11", is seen here and was itself a seedling of ('Marmalade Skies' X 'Baby Love') X 'Julia Child'.  It is a "half-sister" seedling to 'Thrive!' since they share the same seed parent: 'Marmalade Skies' X 'Baby Love'.  Like 'Thrive!', K155-11 has been extremely clean in our climate and I have seen no disease on it.

The pollen parent is a complex Hulthemia seedling that has ancestry that includes 'Persian Sunset', 'Chewtiggle', and 'Bull's Eye'.  It has a nice purple blotch.  It's downside is lack of vigor.  It has been a smaller plant, but is building a larger plant size slowly.  It's code name is "L83-6", and is a sister seedling to 'Eyeconic Pink Lemonade'.  It is shown below.

Combining the above two parent roses resulted in the seedlings below.  There are a handful of other seedlings from this cross that I am continuing to evaluate, but I think these two are the best.  As you can see, the blotch is not very large, but I think the darker color at the base of the petals may give more of a depth to the blooms that otherwise might not be there.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Largest Blotch - A Deadend?

Hybridizing this year began in earnest about 2 weeks ago.  As mentioned in the last post, this is also the time that I first get to see last year's survivors blooming outside for the first time.  With the Hulthemias, there are many surprises.  The blotches are typically larger and darker, and the growth pattern tends to change.  I also get the chance to see how they fare to bugs and diseases.  Thrips love some blooms, but leave others alone.  The same is true for the curculio beetle.  Again, this year we have had just the right amount of downy mildew - no seedling deaths, but significant defoliation in those seedlings that are highly susceptible. 

One seedling (I discussed this seedling in an earlier post last year in Smooth Hulthemias), keeps surprising me.  It appears to be thornless (or nearly so), it has very good disease resistance, and to date, it has the largest blotch that I have ever seen in terms of percent of the length of the petal that the blotch covers.  So far, I have collected pollen from about 6 or 7 blooms, and wouldn't you know it - it appears to be pollen sterile (no pollen is releasing from the dried anthers).  I am now trying to pollinate it with other Hulthemias to see if it will set hips.  I sure hope this isn't a "dead-end".

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Hulthemias - First Blooms Outside

The 2011 seedlings are just now blooming for the first time outside of the greenhouse.  There are many changes that are evident.  In the Hulthemias, color saturation, blotch size (larger) and vigor are more noticeable on the more mature seedlings when exposed to full sunlight conditions.  The seedling shown below is one of my favorites so far.  Although both photos were taken with my iPhone, they were taken under very different lighting conditions.  The first photo was taken under lower light conditions just before sunset, while the second photo was taken in the morning.  The color representation in the second photo with the single bloom is more characteristic of the real thing.  The blooms are a golden yellow with a burgundy blotch.  I will follow this post up in the next few days with another post showing several of the other seedlings from 2011 also blooming for the first time outside.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Hulthemias with Form

Although my favorite Hulthemias have 10 to 15 petals, I am liking some of the ones that have enough petals to provide the classic exhibition form as seen in those shown below.  The first seedling has 'Singin' in the Rain' as the seed parent, while the second has 'Pearl Sanford' and the third 'Cal Poly'.  The 'Singin' in the Rain' seedling's blotch is somewhat smaller, so is not ideal, however in the other two, the blotch seems to offer some additional interest.  What do you think?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Ralph S. Moore Rose Garden and Friends of Sequoia

Today a group of us, friends of Mr. Ralph Moore (we call ourselves "Friends of Sequoia"), met today in Visalia at the rose garden that was built and dedicated in honor of Mr. Moore.  We were there today to reminisce about him and the times that we spent with him.  We were there also to give thanks to the Master Gardeners who have worked hard to maintain the garden in its beautiful condition and to hear Burling Leong speak about chip budding and Kim Rupert speak about his "burrito" method for rooting hardwood cuttings.  It was a beautiful day to get together.

While there today, I thought back to the time that I visited the garden the year after Mr. Moore passed away.  I was in Visalia for a meeting and couldn't miss visiting his garden.  As I was walking around the garden taking photos, I started noticing clothing drying on the fencing and on some of the bricks around the garden.  In the photo below, you can see some white clothing just to the right of the garden bench.  As I moved in closer to get photographs of some of Mr. Moore's roses, a homeless man, looking embarrassed, came up to me and apologized as he picked up his drying underwear that he had just washed. With the clothing gone, I then took the photo of 'Ralph's Creeper' as seen below.

Later, after the homeless man left, 3 young boys, presumably part of a wedding gathering, came over to look at the roses.  They seemed to enjoy the garden as much as I did.

When I first saw the homeless man using the garden to dry his clothes, I initially had a feeling of anger, as though he was defacing Mr. Moore's garden.  Thinking further back though I remembered a time that I had spent with Mr. Moore and Chris Warner at the same garden.  As I thought more about it, the contrasts of the homeless man using the warmth of the garden to dry his clothes, and the young boys enjoying the roses that they had stumbled upon, I decided that Mr. Moore would have gotten a real kick out of it all.