Rose breeders are a patient bunch... it can take a lifetime to produce the perfect rose. If you ever do. How many of us actually consider the time, work, patience, and expertise that goes into producing the latest varieties in your local garden center?
The best breeders through the ages have been part gardener, part scientist, part rose historian, and part artist. Just wafting a bit of pollen around a rose then hoping you get some viable seed to plant next year is never going to produce anything of note.
Each new generation of rose breeder builds on the work and advances of the previous ones... we have never had such a wide variety of beautiful roses as we do today. So here is a tribute to some of the best, the notable, the people who gave us varieties that have become the backbone of our rose gardens. These are in no particular order.
Who hasn't heard of perhaps the most famous rose produced by Fench company Meilland, "Peace"? Perhaps the most poular Hybrid Tea ever, the "proper" name for this is actually "Madame A. Meilland".
In recent times, they seem to have specialized in low maintenance ground cover roses. You will be familar with the names of their most popular, "drift roses" and "knockout". They also produce a lovely group of roses known as "Romanticas".
They have been in the flower business since the mid 19th century. The survived the world wars by sending out cuttings throughout the world. However, many of the older breeds were lost in a diseased nursery in the 1930s and so most of their flowers are dated from the WWII era to today. Certain nurseries in the United States now carry these types. Conard-Pyle is the main grower and distributor but Hortico is also a sales point as well. Palatine also has a handful of these varieties available.
Sam McGredy may be Irish, but he has done his best work when he relocated to New Zealand.
One of my favorite McGredy roses also happens to be one the most popular red climbers in NZ, Dublin Bay. This rose has so much going for it - strong color that doesn't fade, easy care and very disease resistant (in fact it seems to thrive on neglect) and extremely easy to grow from cuttings. The only (slight) drawback for me is that in common with many McGredy roses, it is somewhat light on frangrance.
If you watch the video, Sam says it takes around 10 years from that first pollination until a rose is ready for sale. So that just goes to show that breeders have to be in it for the long haul... no quick bucks in this field!
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