About the year 1814 the first of the Noisette class was raised—a class now only grown in the South in California. John Champney, of Charleston, South Carolina, fertilized the White Musk with pollen from the Blush China, and the result was named Champney's Pink Cluster. Another Charleston florist, Philip Noisette, raised a seedling from this which he sent to his brother in France—Louis Noisette—about 1817.
From this beginning, the Noisettes (which properly, however, should have been called Champney Roses) were raised and distributed, contributing greatly to rose values in Europe especially. The modern members of this group, having a large admixture of Tea in them, are not quite hardy. Some of the greatest of the yellow roses for warm climates are of this section.
About 1836 Samuel and John Feast, two Baltimore florists with the true hybridizing instinct, obtained some crosses between the native Rosa setigera, well known as the wild Prairie Rose, and near-by roses of the time, probably mostly of the Noisette and Provence type. The result, first in evidence about 1843, included two climbing roses that are yet with us, in Baltimore Belle and Queen of the Prairies, the latter of which is ruggedly hardy. The other variety seemingly had Noisette blood in it, inasmuch as it is not so dependably hardy everywhere, though for many years this well-named Baltimore Belle gave us the only light-coloured cluster-flowered climbing rose.
That America had produced but few roses in the first half of the nineteenth century is in evidence in a copy of a catalogue of roses issued in 1848, by Henry H. Crapo, of New Bedford, Mass., including less than a half-dozen American varieties in its one hundred and twenty-five described sorts—some of them, it is interesting to note, rather wonderfully named, as, for example, the " Belevem Episcopal" rose!
The very carefully compiled "Official List of Roses Introduced in America," prepared by Charles E. F. Gersdorff, of Washington, from a study of all the available literature on the subject, and published by the American Rose Society in its Annual for 1922, shows 61I names of roses introduced in America to that date, of which 166 have disappeared from catalogues, leaving of net American introduction 445 rose varieties in about 125 years, credited to 181 persons and firms.
Most of this list of persons and firms includes single introductions, either of a seedling or a sport, or as in the case of the famed American Beauty Rose, an importation by George Bancroft, the historian, who seems to have brought in from France in 1886 the H. P. Mme. Ferdinand Jamain, produced by Ledechaux in 1873, and renamed in some unexplained way as put into commerce by a Washington firm, Field Bros. It is yet a leading cut-flower rose though successful outdoors in a few gardens.
Another of these single introductions was of the lovely light pink sport of the fine American Hybrid Tea Radiance, named for and introduced by Mrs. Charles Bell, of Washington. A beautiful Rugosa hybrid, Agnes Emily Carman, was the sole contribution of the famous editor, E. S. Carman. The justly famous Dorothy Perkins, a hardy climbing rose that has found countrywide acceptance, was sent out in 1902 by the wholesale nurserymen, Jackson & Perkins, the successor to which, the Jackson & Perkins Co., is responsible for several other roses.
But the main producers of American roses of value, and yet in commerce, are but few in number, though rich in achievement. Thus 19 originators and introducers are responsible for the introduction within a generation of 332 varieties, including certain duplications between originator and introducer. In this brief survey, we may properly merely mention the introducers whose foresight and enterprise have made the work of the hybridisers available to the public. The California Rose Co., of Pomona, Calif.; the Conard & Jones Co., of West Grove, Pa.; the Dingee & Conard Co., of the same place; Peter Henderson & Co., of New York; A. N. Pierson, Inc., Cromwell, Conn., all have thus done much service, and a dozen or more firms have introduced from one to five varieties each, usually for greenhouse growing, and being sports from existing popular varieties. Thus, for example, John N. May, of Summit, N. J., observed and propagated the most useful sport, The Bride, among his houses of the then popular Catharine Mermet.
Considering the actual rose originations of the past generation, it is wise to separate them into two groups. In America much acute attention has been given to the production of improved varieties of roses for producing the millions of cut flowers grown under glass to satisfy the hunger of our people for roses all the year. Indeed, in this special field, American hybridisers easily lead the world.
Now these greenhouse roses are quite constantly based on garden varieties, but are developed without any reference to their garden adaptability. Fortunately some of them eventually escape into the garden, and have given us most distinct advantage there, as, for example, John Cook's Radiance, and its best sports, Gude's Red Radiance and Mrs. Charles Bell. In similar fashion, E. G. Hill's Columbia has slipped from the greenhouse to the garden, with advantage to the garden.
One of the older rosarians is the venerable John Cook, of Baltimore, above mentioned, ,whose 22 productions, all, it is believed, intended for the greenhouse, provide us now not only with the Radiance group but with a most distinct very double red rose in Francis Scott Key, together with Panama and Souvenir of Wootton.
The production of Radiance alone is a permanent monument of honour for this man who has lived with his roses for more than sixty years, for it is the "one best bet" among the garden roses now in commerce.
John H. Dunlop, of Richmond Hill, Ontario,has sent out some five roses of real merit for indoor culture. His outstanding varieties are F. W. Dunlop and Mrs. Henry Winnett.
Alexander Montgomery, Jr., of Hadley,Mass., is credited with eight varieties, all distinct and valuable. Mrs. Charles Russell and Hadley have invaded the garden also, and Crusader, Pilgrim, and Montgomery's Priscilla are full-bodied roses that are largely grown under glass.
Undoubtedly the leader in this field, in all the world as well as in America, is E. Gurney Hill, of Richmond, Indiana, to whose genius, insight, and courage we owe not only the production of many superior roses, but the introduction from abroad, after enduring his scrutiny, in their homes, of many of Europe's best. It was Mr. Hill who saw in Ophelia the qualities that have since impressed themselves effectively on the race of Hybrid Teas, and he "put it on the map" in America.
In a half century of rose devotion, Mr. Hill has become the father, so to speak, of some 42 roses. Among these are the present leaders in under-glass culture, Columbia, Premier, Hill's America, Mme. Butterfly, all of which, by the way, seem to be also good garden roses.
It is related by Mr. Hill that on a visit to Kew Gardens, in London, he was gravely informed that General MacArthur was the best red outdoor bedding rose for England, and he was advised to invest in it. The smiling reply that he had originated it in 1904 astonished his informant.
Rhea Reid, Robin Hood, Indiana, Mrs. Theodore
Roosevelt, and others also connect Mr. Hill with the amateur's garden.
Before the introduction from England of Crimson Rambler, a Multiflora form, Mr. Dawson had successfully produced (in 1888) the yet greatly admired Dawson climber. He sent out the Lady Duncan as probably the first Wichuraiana hybrid, and his lovely Wm. C. Egan in the same year united Wichuraiana and General Jacqueminot.
His little-known Sargent rose, described
by those who have it as a glorified apple-blossom, united both Multiflora
and Wichuraiana with the Hybrid Perpetual blood. The once-famous Ellwanger
& Barry nurseries in Rochester, N. Y., long since overrun by that
great city, included in its group George H. Ellwanger, the first American
rose authority of his day, and the author of a book yet most valuable.
He did some hybridizing in garden forms before the advent of the Hybrid
Teas, and the good rose Marshall P. Wilder remains in his memory.
Josiah Hoopes, of the firm of Hoopes Bros. & Thomas Co., well-known nurserymen of West Chester, Pa., was a famous botanist and expert in conifers in his day. He loved roses, and directed the work of his assistant, James A. Farrell, which resulted in the production of three of the best large-flowered hardy climbers in Climbing American Beauty, Christine Wright, and Purity.
These great Wichuraiana hybrids set a new
standard, and have hardly been approached in beauty and adaptability.
His Bloomfield Abundance and Mrs. George C. Thomas show a very distinct break toward recurrent blooming, and his Bloomfield Progress is a lovely and fragrant dark red Hybrid Tea. Incidental to his work, however, he has produced a most beautiful and valuable pillar rose or low climber in Dr. Huey, bearing in June a great covering of durable semi-double large dark red flowers of the greatest impressiveness. Captain Thomas is a successful author as well, his book on roses being a standard, and his contributions to the American Rose Annual are always original and of value.
The one American grower now working directly in Hybrid Tea roses aimed to enlarge American gardens in comparison with the European productions, is Fred H. Howard, of Howard & Smith, Los Angeles, Calif. Mr. Howard's success has been notable, for he has twice been awarded the highest rose honour of the world, the foreign gold medal given each year to the rose found best by an international jury of experts observing the trials at the great Bagatelle rose-gardens in Paris.
It was Los Angeles and Miss Lolita Armour that captured these prizes, and Mr. Howard's other productions, Mrs. S. K. Rindge, Mrs. W. C. Egan, Wm. F. Dreer, Eldorado, and Fragrant Bouquet, are each of unique beauty and value. He has worked mostly with the difficult Pernetiana strain, and he will undoubtedly give the world other great roses.
At the end of this brief survey of all American rose production stand two names of especial importance because their work has impressed itself on all the rose world. Both are dead, but yet live in millions of blooming roses each year.
M. H. Walsh lived his rose life at Woods Hole, Mass., on Cape Cod, and there he produced some 41 new varieties of his favourite flower, all Wichuraiana hybrids save two or three Hybrid Perpetuals, and predominantly single flowered—for Mr. Walsh was among the first to combat by sheer loveliness the fad for more and more petals in the dress of the queen of flowers. True, he gave us Excelsa, which displaces the mildew-loving Crimson Rambler; Lady Gay, which runs with Dorothy Perkins in its vigour of pink beauty, and Mrs. M. H. Walsh, a unique creeping mass of double white loveliness.
To the writer of these words Mr. Walsh's single roses present his enduring claim for fame. The "Walsh Quartette" has been named, including the succession of Milky Way in clouds of purest white, Evangeline in dainty blush, Paradise in exquisite incurved petals of deeper pink, and Hiawatha in bold crimson with white eye. These roses are of great hardiness and of the utmost vigour, and while they bloom but once, that bloom is an event the memory of which suffices for the remainder of the year. All the Walsh hybrids are worth while.
Perhaps the greatest figure in America among garden rosarians was that of the late Dr. W. Van Fleet, whose untimely death in 1922 checked a broadly based series of experiments proceeding under the fostering care of the Bureau of Plant Industry in the United States Department of Agriculture.
Doctor Van Fleet had gotten together at Bell Experiment plot in Maryland a large collection of rose species, and he had gone far with the attempt to breed into American roses the qualities, colours, and beauties of the wild roses especially of China and the Far East. Possessing the sixth sense of the hybridist in a superlative degree, he had before him the goal of what he called "dooryard roses," which should take place generally over the land about the home in such beauty and endurance as we find the lilacs and spireas, and similar shrubs.
He had made much progress toward this goal, and as these words are penned, the first of his production toward the dooryard ideal, Mary Wallace, is being put into commerce through a unique contract between the Department of Agriculture and the American Rose Society. Mary Wallace is a lovely bright pink semi-double flower of exquisite form and large size, produced over several weeks on a plant that is climber or bush, as the grower prefers, but never needs to be the coddled pet of any grower.
But Doctor Van Fleet had to his credit 23 roses of originality and quality, produced within the last quarter century of his useful life, along with better strawberries and raspberries, better iris and lilacs, and an approach to a blight-resistant chestnut. He was well known abroad as the originator of the rose which has come to dominate England and much of France as a hardy climber, fitly named American Pillar.
His Silver Moon, a hardy Cherokee seedling, is another favourite at home and abroad, and his Dr. W. Van Fleet (so named by its introducers against his desire to call it "Daybreak") is probably the finest hardy climber in existence, providing as it does the light pink individual buds and blooms of a perfect Hybrid Tea rose on a plant that thinks nothing of growing twenty feet in a season.
Great garden climbers of the Van Fleet production are Aunt Harriet, Bess Lovett, Alida Lovett, and Mary Lovett, and there are a half-dozen yet unnamed that will add other resources of beauty and vigour and hardiness to the American garden. He has used the lovely Rosa Hugonis and has also secured hybrids with R. Moyesi, R. Englemanni, and many other species not before worked into commercial strains.
Hybrids with Rugosa are among the works of Doctor Van Fleet, and his adventures with Multiflora also were most successful. He was undoubtedly the most important contributor of the past half century to the rose advance of America.
No attempt has here been made to offer a complete survey of American rose-growing. A report of encouraging progress has been undertaken, and is confidently submitted.