Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Warmer Weather Wrapping

To begin exploring whether cutting wrapping is successful as the weather warms and material awakens from dormancy, I wrapped two sets of cuttings two weeks ago today.

The first bunch were accidentally left soaking in a bucket of water for one week before wrapping. The bucket received half day sun for that week. As you can see from the photo, half of them rotted, while half callused.

The second batch was a large bunch of Mutabilis, freshly cut and wrapped within an hour of cutting. Two weeks from right off the plant to this.

A few are planted here while the rest are being sent to a friend for rooting. I love Mutabilis, but, realistically,  how many can I possibly use?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


It doesn't take many seedlings raised before you lose a tag. Frustrating! Whether it's your own neglect, some vermin removing it as happened in my old Newhall garden where rodents were all over the hillside chaparral, or snails eating the paper tag, usually the side with the graphite on it from your documentation.

This seedling is one of the latest frustrations. I know the seed parent, the "mother", was Ralph Moore's 0-47-19, the R. Wichurana X Floradora hybrid he used for sixty years to create some remarkable roses. Who the father is, is open to conjecture. I know what I used on the seed parent. I don't have records of what failed, only what I can document was planted, and what got planted without paternal information.

I kept this seedling because of its dense, healthy foliage. It isn't as rampant a grower as some of its siblings. The wood is mahogany with mid green, semi glossy leaves. It has prickles, but not terrible ones like others of its relatives, or even its mother. It germinated last year and only began flowering for the first time a few weeks ago.

It is obvious there are Wichurana genes in the plant, all parts suggest it. I've not had a seedling from 0-47-19 show such photo reaction in the flowers. The sun touches the petal reverses, giving them a nice rosy glow. There is a flesh tone to them that suggests what I more and more suspect might be its "daddy".

I've only caught one fading flower before it fell and was thrilled to find the petal surfaces overcast with a similar rosy glow. I'll watch for these to take on that glow to be able to post photos later in an edited post.

Anyone care to go out on a limb and suggest what could be the pollen parent?


These are the same blooms one day later, and one Katydid attack later.

Monday, May 23, 2011


Hate them. Unfortunately, they're a gardening necessity. Without them, we'd not have any birds or lizards. When you pimp pollen, you become painfully aware when they over step their bounds.

I hoped to pull some pollen from this seedling, but something beat me to it.

Fortunately, the bugger was still there so I could finally determine who the culprit was!

He was rather quick at getting away.

I figured out viewing bud identification sites it had to be a sort of Katydid. Sending the photos to Baldo Villegas, the State Entomologist, confirmed it is an immature Katydid.  Baldo has a great rose site containing many photos of diseases and insects as well as professional information concerning what to do about them. Here is the link. Baldo's bug and rose site I don't have any photos of a mature one...yet, but you can find them easily online.

Katydids can cause some real damage in your gardens. They'll eat just about anything. If you find these in your garden...

SQUASH THEM! They're Katydid eggs. They deserve to be squashed!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Basye's Thornless Wichurana

Quite a few years ago, I purchased a rose from Sequoia Nursery they called "Basye's Thornless Wichurana". It grew..and GREW....AND GREW! As with any Wichurana, it roots at every leaf node, creating a new plant each time until it colonizes all available space. Due to lack of room, I removed it and quickly wished I hadn't. I intend to eventually begin working with it to determine if the thornless character can be bred into its hybrids.

Winter of 2004, while visiting Sequoia, I asked Ralph Moore if he still had the plant and might he please have one available for sale? He didn't but told me he'd make some. The following summer, May 29, I was in Visalia to attend the dedication of his memorial garden. People lined up to shake the great Rose Man's hand. Many of us wore name tags with our names, the names of our roses he'd created and named for us, as we slowly moved toward the honorees seat.

As I approached him, he caught sight of me out the corner of his eye and reached for my hand. Jerking medown to his face to be heard, he asked, "You know that thornless Wichurana you asked me for last winter? I got two little plants for you if you remind me when we go back to the nursery". Easily six months since my inquiry, with the dedication of his memorial garden with its associated hullabaloo, and this 97 year old gentleman is focused on my inquiry of six months ago! That's the source of my two plants of Basye's Thornless Wichurana.

It still grows and grows. These plants have been starved in depleted soil, crammed into five gallon nursery cans, yet they STILL grow! One has thrown itself through the other roses in the pot ghetto, into a huge Manetii root stock which got away, and cascades down the sunny side of the mound. Laterals spring from its smooth canes, each terminating in clusters of single, white flowers.

The foliage is attractive, and I noticed today it has the trait of "tanning" to red in heat and sun, particularly on the reverses of the foliage.

The canes ARE thornless. The leaf mid ribs do have small, hooked prickles. The plant roots EXTREMELY easily and GROWS quite well. It should easily make a very successful ground cover for a slope, rooting as it creeps along the ground. Not having the flesh eating prickles on the canes should help make it quite a bit easier to deal with when having to pull weeds or trash from the plant. When it flowers, it is quite beautiful.

Catching the fragile flowers while they are still fresh and without damage is quite a trick. Unfortunately, I can't detect much scent from them.  What I did notice today during an overcast, warmish morning is a slight "soapy" scent.

Strangely, the stipules are slightly fringed like the bracts in the flower clusters, a trait indicative of multiflora heritage. No other Wichurana or its hybrids not containing multiflora I've encountered possess the fringing.

Cuttings of this easily rooted, healthy rose are available to anyone interested within the Continental US for the cost of postage.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Longer Wrapped Cuttings Update

It's been about five weeks since the precallused IXL cuttings were removed from their burritos, where they callused for two weeks. What you are about to see is seven weeks development from cuttings to these plants. Only two to three days of the weeks they sat out among the other canned roses were hot. Two days of 97 degrees, while the majority of the rest of them were in the seventies with quite cool nights. The past two days have had rain showers, a real rarity for Southern California this late in the year.

I'm sure the milder weather, compared to what it could have been, has helped the cuttings perform as well as they have. Having the increased humidity relieved me of needing to water them as often and eliminated any need to mist the foliage. IXL resulted from a cross of Tausendshon and Veilchenblau, both strongly multiflora hybrids. The species' greatly enhanced ability to root definitely helped, too.

Because of the cool, wet weather, I decided to check the pots for roots. If they were sufficiently rooted, these conditions would be perfect for unwrapping the stems to allow them to harden off easily without requiring any extra effort from me. Rainy weather is perfect for transplanting plants, planting bare roots and hardening off cuttings propagated in more controlled conditions.

Only one of the pots showed no root growth at the pot bottom or along the sides. Many impressed me with how well rooted they are so soon after planting. These were some of the root development in pots. You can click on all photos to view them larger.

I checked the one and two gallon pots but decided not to attempt the five gallon, four foot cutting for fear of destroying the soil ball. Based upon how the smaller pots look, and how well the cutting protruding from the plastic wrapped around the cane, I'm sure it is doing its thing. Ironically, the smaller pots generally showed superior root development. I wonder if it is due to the smaller soil balls heating faster in sunlight and warmer air than the larger ones?

They vary in size from half #2 pencil gauge to quite thick, virtually what you'd expect a traditional standard trunk to be. This is approximately two feet in length, in a two gallon can.

Those which impressed me as being sufficiently rooted have been unwrapped. Those which felt too lightly rooted to chance should weather conditions become hot and dry, I left wrapped. Once they develop larger root systems, unwrapping them to harden off shouldn't be that much of an issue. I wanted to get these going now to reduce the work required later.

This is how they look at this moment. All but one short, quite thick cutting, have some root development. Not bad for seven weeks time. Not bad at all!

These are now against a west facing wall, under a deep eave. Light is filtered through a Black Walnut, so it's bright with little direct sun until very late in the evening, shortly before dusk.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Why R. Fedtschenkoana?

A frequently recurring theme during my long friendship with Ralph Moore was "not to stir the pot", but bring something new to my rose breeding. He led by example, basing much of his miniature breeding on R. Wichurana, and adding doses of other species and Old Garden Roses along the way.

This set me to searching for a species which hadn't already been over worked in creating modern garden roses and which wouldn't yield the infertility problems associated with mismatched chromosome counts. Many species are diploid, meaning they have fourteen chromosomes (two pairs of seven). Many modern roses are tetraploid, meaning they have twenty-eight (four pairs of seven) chromosomes. During fertilization, pairs split from one another and mate up with matching pairs from the other parent. When there aren't equal pairs from both sides, infertility issue arise and crosses fail, or infertile offspring result. I hoped to avoid much of the historical infertility issues encountered on the road to what we grow today.

I discussed this with Ralph and he chuckled, telling me it didn't matter because 'the rose will find the way'. He paid no attention to chromosome counts, other than to find them amusing and interesting when they appeared to disagree with established "scientific knowledge" His disregarding matching counts resulted in many triploids, roses with twenty-one pair of chromosomes, being produced. Historical science holds that odd numbered pairs will result in lowered to no fertility. However, his most prolific breeders have tended to be odd numbered, triploids. His triploid breeders are some of the most fertile, most easily pollinated roses around. OK, so based upon chromosome counts alone, it shouldn't matter what species I selected for my breeding.

I researched many species, looking for one which not only attracted me but contained traits I found desirable to try and include in my breeding and which hadn't already been used to make what we grow. I chose R. Fedtschenkoana for a number of reasons. Whether the chromosome count matters or not, I figured its containing the same count as the roses I wanted to cross it with could only make things easier. This rose has absolutely beautiful foliage! New growth tends to be lavender tinted, with short, sharp red prickles liberally studding the canes. New foliage on these shoots show the lavender tints until they begin developing the mature silvery-turquoise-gray tints. This is foliage unlike most other roses you've encountered and I had to see what it would do!

It's flower buds are quite "mossy", exhibiting what Ralph called "soft moss" as opposed to the harder, prickle type mossing which tends to stab you and remain in your flesh when you come in too close contact with it. The new growth tips and the mossy buds and sepals release the most amazing scent when brushed or rubbed. It has always impressed me as being that of a Nobel Fir combined with hardwood smoke, like a fresh Christmas tree with the scent of a fireplace. I had studied R. Foetida and its wonderful plant scents and followed how they had morphed through the breeding toward modern roses. I wondered what the effects would be on this marvelous scent.

Fedtschenkoana's blooms are a very brilliant, hard white. The plants have been nicknamed "ghostly" and the intensity of how white the flowers are fit that very well.

They have the same odd "linseed oil" scent found in R. foetida and R. laxa, and it carries well on warm, moist air just as the delicious plant scent does. I've studied how the Foetida bloom scent evolved into fruity scents as it has been massaged by the inclusion of other genes and wondered if that is the path Fedtschenkoana's scent would also follow. Its characteristic of flowering throughout the summer is an added attraction. Perhaps that would blend well with modern repeat flowering to produce season-long bloom earlier in the line?

The rose has always been spotless in any environment I've grown  or encountered it. Very late in the fall there can be some ugliness to it, but this IS a deciduous plant and aging foliage being drained of all of its nutrients as the plant heads toward shedding it for winter isn't always "pretty". The species does tend to turn autumnal colors, primarily in the yellow tones in my climate, before being dropped for the season. I wondered what effects other genes I might choose to mix with theirs might have on the fall colors.

Obtaining Fedtschenkoana proved more difficult than I had imagined. There were only two sources for it and both were sold out for the year. At that time, we had a very active volunteer group at The Huntington Library. Joan Kennedy, who was one of the active volunteers, had contracted cancer and it was only a matter of time. She had a very large, lovely garden not far from Descanso Gardens and the volunteer group decided to spend a Saturday cleaning up her garden to show our support and get to visit with her. While working along the fence at the bottom of her garden hill, I encountered a plant which looked very much like the rose I sought. We broke for lunch and I asked her what the rose was. R. Fedtschenkoana. I told her of my efforts to buy it and she begged me to dig out as much of the plant to take home as I wanted. My Fedtschenkoana and all of its hybrids are my remembrance of Joan.

Now, it was in my garden and I began planning what to cross with it to produce the breeders I wished to create and base a line on. Unfortunately, the rose had other ideas! For a rose containing the right chromosome count, it was definitely being stubborn! Nothing I used its pollen on succeeded. No pollen applied to its ovaries took.

Out of desperation, I chose to cross it with Orangeade, a brilliant orange floribunda from the late 1950s. MANY breeders have selected Orangeade over the decades since its introduction, for good reason. Not only does it tend to saturate all plant pigments, but it is wonderfully fertile, you can almost "pollinate it with dirt!"I liberally applied Fedtschenkoana pollen on Orangeade flowers, and it took!

Only two seedlings resulted from this first cross. A great benefit of using the modern parent for seeds is hybrids with species are immediately evident. Both of these little plants were obviously hybrids rather than probable self seedlings. Both clearly exhibited the anticipated foliage and prickles, though slightly modified from the original. I waited until the following year for the first to bloom. The second flowered the following spring.

Breeding roses teaches PATIENCE!

Next: Results

"Lost Seedlings"

Several unreleased Moore seedlings resurfaced recently during a garden tour. I was able to identify the others, but these two defy my attempts to put names to them. I recognize them, but information about them isn't easy to dredge from the mud of my memory.

The first is a repeat flowering climber. As you can see, it flowers heavily, and is reported to continue its efforts all summer long. There is a scent to them, probably stronger than was apparent on the day of the open garden as it was sunny and rather breezy. It impressed me as ripening green peaches. Others in attendance stated it reminded them of fruit scented tobacco.

The flower clusters are amazing! It blooms like a Hybrid Musk, forming buds at the leaf axis along the ends of the canes instead of in terminal clusters, much like Renae. I doubt if Renae figures in this rose's background. Nothing about it 'speaks' Renae other than how the flowers are borne.

The other is definitely a Rugosa hybrid. It stains red on the petal reverses where the sun strikes them. I couldn't discern any scent, but the blooms weren't fresh and it was already mid day when the photos were taken. I can remember in which green house this grew, and what a former friend used to call it. Attempts to obtain further information from Caroline and Burling have not brought anything new, other than it is thought to be a Belle Poitevine seedling. The only thing that makes any sense to me about it would be with Golden Angel. Hopefully, more information can be gleaned from other records not readily available. Unfortunately, nothing on the official Sequoia breeding record fits either.

 VERY clean foliage, not far from the south coast beaches, in a no spray garden. Not bad at all!

 Whatever they are, I hope we can dig up information about them as they are both interesting and nice garden roses which may have useful genes to play with.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Longer wrapped cuttings for standard stocks

At one time, standard roses were budded on the rambler, IXL. The benefits are IXL flows a great deal of water, so longer or taller lengths are possible than with the current Dr. Huey stocks. IXL forms very thick canes, often an inch or more, in a very short time and it grows them VERY long. It roots quite easily and accepts most scions. The downsides are the enormous amount of room necessary to maintain mother blocks of it for commercial production and the ease with which it can sun scald under extreme conditions.

I chose to use IXL to produce standards for my garden because I want/need stronger, thicker trunks to help against the high winds we can experience here on this hill. I want to bring some of the seed parent breeders I like to use higher up, so I can see them better and not have to kneel or sit on the ground to work with them. I hope bringing the hips up higher will also help keep the vermin from eating them before I can plant them!

I collected three dozen, quite thick, cuttings from a very long whip of an IXL I had given to my brother in law many years ago. Some of them were only six or so inches long. Most were a foot and a half or longer, with the longest measuring a full four feet. The ones intended for standard trunks had all growth buds except for the top one or two sliced out of them with a single edged razor blade. I processed them with my aforementioned rooting hormone of choice and wrapped them, as before, in the damp newspaper.
Two, large, black plastic trash bags were used, one from each end, to wrap the bundle of "burritos". These were wrapped around and tied loosely to maintain the dampness inside.
This wrapped bundle was then placed on a shelf inside the storage room attached to the garage where it remained cool for the two week period. At the appointed time, I unwrapped them and found this.

These were all potted in one and two gallon cans. The larger ones have been staked and tied to secure them in the pots to prevent wobbling. Root formation requires good soil to cutting contact. Should the cuttings wobble in the soil, rooting could be delayed or even prevented. Those intended to create new mother plants, complete with all bud eyes left in them, were potted as the earlier cuttings were. Those with the growth buds removed, intended for stocks, I wrapped in strips cut from white kitchen garbage bags.
Twenty-five plus years ago, when I was volunteering at The Huntington Library propagating roses, I developed a method of rooting these longer cuttings for standard stocks. This is where wrapping the trunks in the white plastic came from. The plastic retains moisture in the cane while it roots. The white plastic permits light to absorb into the green wood so photosynthesis may continue, feeding the cutting while it develops. Here, without mist, I figured using the white plastic strips to wrap the stocks, leaving the tops exposed, would permit them to grow with less chance of rot.
I tucked the pots among the others in my "pot ghetto", figuring the surrounding foliage would provide extra humidity, much as poking a cutting into the soil under the mother plant would.

It's been almost three weeks since these were removed from the paper and potted. As you can see, the combination of all that was done has permitted them to begin growing even faster than the first batch of smaller ones did. I believe the extra heat of the past few weeks has probably helped.

Once I can see root formation in the pots, I'll begin loosening the plastic wrappings to harden them off. By next spring, I should have a number of stocks suitable for budding.