I am pleased to feature some of Sean McCann's writings this month. Sean is a regular contributor to the ARS publications. Check out these articles: "New Life For Old Roses", and "The Color Purple". Sean's writings shine with wit and anecdote, illustrating his love of roses, and his vast experience with them. They aren't just plants to Sean, they are old friends! Sean is also a hybridizer working with Miniatures, and has a new introduction this year, available from Justice Miniatures, called 'Little White Lies'. It is a spreading miniature, ideal for hanging baskets or ground cover, with sprays of gleaming white single blooms.
Well, here it is again....spring! What I most look forward to is seeing new seedlings bloom for the first time, and the start of breeding season. Some seedlings are now as much as 3 years old, so they are sure to bloom this spring......these are mostly Gallica hybrids, which must be 2 to 3 years old before they start to flower. The greenhouse has been cleaned up, and my breeding plants are starting to leaf and bud out now. Last year's seeds have all been sown in flats, and many are starting to germinate now. Some of last year's crosses were very experimental, and a few have germinated, so I am very excited to see these new seedlings develop.
One of the things I am most interested in pursuing is the breeding of new Moss Roses. I have been studying Ralph Moore's career in breeding his Miniature Moss roses and will be including many of his hybrids in my program. One that has already been used in my work is 'Scarlet Moss' (at right), a semi-miniature Moss Rose. In one cross with 'Scarlet Moss', I used the English rose, 'The Prince' as the pollen parent. From this I obtained a few seedlings, almost all of which were interesting. Pictured at left is one of these seedlings. The color is excellent, unfading to the end, and there is moderate mossing on the sepals. The bloom form is poor when fully open, and there are only a dozen petals, but this points the way to something interesting.
From that same cross is the seedling at right, a more purple/mauve hybrid with much fuller blooms. As you can see, this has much better blooms in form, but the color is lighter. Blooms are always produced in clusters of 3 or so. Again, there is moderate mossing on the sepals, and the plant is compact, with glossy, bright green foliage. I will be growing this one on for further study. It looks like it may make a very nice looking plant.
There are a few other hybrids that I will be using to breed new Moss hybrids, not the least of which is my own Moss hybrid, 'Nightmoss #2'. This hybrid resulted from a cross of the Moss rose 'Nuits de Young' X 'Tuscany Superb', a Gallica. As you can see, the blooms are a rich deep purple hue, and there is significant mossing on the sepals. I am hoping this rose will become a door to repeat blooming purple Moss hybrids. Already, it is proving to be fertile, as I have seedlings from it already. Last year I used it as a seed parent, using pollen from 'Scarlet Moss', and 'Chapeau de Napoleon', and already there are several seedlings from these two crosses.
I have great hopes that I will one day achieve reblooming Moss Roses that look like the one you see pictured here. I am also aiming to breed a single (5 petalled) deep purple Moss hybrid, and possibly a Crested hybrid in a dark purple hue as well. It will take years to do, but I have the desire and the ambition, so wish me luck. As I say, I am going to be using Ralph Moore Moss hybrids to work towards some of my goals. Many of Mr. Moore's Moss hybrids are a wealth of genes for breeding work like this, and I will be making good use of these. Thankyou Mr. Moore, for your fine work with the Moss Roses!
'Gabriel Noyelle' is one other Moss hybrid that I am currently using in my breeding work. It is unusual in that it was bred well after the Victorian love of Mosses had died. It was bred in the 1930's from seed parent 'Salet' and pollen parent 'Souvenir de Mme Kreuger' and is a fully remontant (repeat blooming) Moss rose. It is a very tall, rather wild plant, but with good parents, it will likely yield some smaller, more compact shrubs. I have used pollen from the Mini Moss 'Dresden Doll' on it last year, and have seeds in flats waiting for germination. The peachy coloring will not likely come through in its progeny in this instance, but I am hoping for a smaller shrub and some good mossing. I will be posting pictures of these new hybrids later on this year, as they start to bloom.
For tips on rose culture, pruning, propagation and history, see "Other resources on this site". Any time you want to return to this page, click on the "thorn icon" in the margin at left.