A sport or just quirky news...

Hi all. I’m a beginner, at the stage where I am raising seedlings from the random hips gathered when I prune my elderly aunt and mother’s roses each winter when I visit them in San Diego. This is in practice for when I can raise my own crosses. When my husband an I retire next year, we hope to relocate to northern San Diego county. I’ve raised about twenty seedlings each year for the last two seasons. Despite what I read in these entries, I have a terrible time consigning the homelier and less vigorous roses to the compost pile. Of course, the very harsh conditions here [bitter winters, nasty late frosts (The native oaks, maples, and ashes have had to re-leaf out in July after an especially brutal spring.), Japanese beetles, and other critters have culled quite a few for me. The rest will huddle under lights for this winter, as they did the last, in the basement.

I have always been interested in how roses surprise us by sporting. I have grown and been delighted by Vick’s Caprice and Madame Pierre Oger. I have admired Cl. Mlle. Cecile Brunner, Happenstance, the many versions of Radiance and Ophelia and Peace, and the occasional quirkinesses in my gardens over the years and the fascinating entries here in the Forum. Your notes about the effects of bud selection on the characteristics of budded plants are amazing.

Now one of this Spring’s seedlings has prompted me to ask: Do very young rose seedlings sport very often? Up to this week it has been a very self-contained little version of what I am sure is its mom, a shrub called, I think, Lavender Dream, only single and pink rather than semi-double and lavender-pink. It has already produced four flushes of spectacularly charming little blooms. This week I noticed it had begun to grow a basil shoot at least a foot long, with no sign of slowing down or a terminal bud cluster. Do you think it is a climbing sport or is it revealing itself to be some kind of post-adolescent linebacker version of a rose?

I have tried to post a photo of it here, but I struggle a bit with computer stuff. I’ll keep at it. What do you think of this seedling?

Hi Brian, welcome! Good luck on being able to retire to SD County! You’ll love it! Lavender Dream is a monster. My guess from your description is the plant has finally produced enough roots to push that kind of growth. Get ready…moving to the “land of endless summer” is going to show you MANY such monsters! As for your photo struggle, check the size of the photo file. Quite often, the issue is the file is too large. The ideal for posting to most sites on line is 300 dpi. If you attempt posting larger file sizes to many of them, you will be timed out and it won’t upload. Very often, resizing the file to that size clears up the problem. Since I don’t print my images and mainly post them on line, I have the camera set to produce that file size for every photo I take. If I need something higher resolution for printing, I change the image quality by increasing the file size or number of dots per inch. I hope that helps!

Thanks, Kim, for your encouraging words. We really are extremely fortunate to be able to move there. And as for the monsters…bring 'em on! I have a list a mile long of roses I have dreamed of growing there.

Thanks also for your practical advice about how to wrangle the photos. I’ll get right on it.

While we’re on the topic, have any of the members noticed in their own gardens any other sports [color variations (like the Koster or Grootendorst families), doubleness, climbing sports, completely over-the-top climbing sports like Cl Cecile Brunner, unexpected repeat flowering (like New Dawn), miniature sports of standard sizes (like Happenstance), stripes that can be passed on to later generations (And what’s the deal with Ferdinand Pichard, anyway? Where the heck did he come from and is he really the only source of striping in breeding lines? Sure seems like it to me.) And why are some roses so prone to sport (and sport back, even) to several variations, like Radiance, for example. Is there some kind of stress put on the growth bud when it is re-budded through many generations? Does it accumulate mostly benign viruses that affect growth and flowering? Are there certain roses that pass along this instability the way Ophelia seems to? Are our regular rose bushes really all mutations of the wild Asian roses that flower on secondary branches rising from basal shoots, like blackberries. Recently I thought a rose I was pruning looked like it was composed entirely of these secondary, re-blooming shoots. Does this make any sense?

If you have run across any of these variations, have you been successful in propagating them?

You’re welcome! I hope you land somewhere you can have enough land and WATER, far enough away from fire danger. If at all possible, add as much solar as you can to the site and invest in a back up, whole house generator. We WILL be having power outages on a fairly regular schedule. We’ve just installed the generator and have had the solar for several years. It all helps.

Ralph Moore selected Ferdinand Pichard to mine for stripes because it was the only striped rose for whom parentage wasn’t known. Might that have been possible with others? Who can say? Until someone decides to work with them for DECADES as Ralph did with FP, we’ll never know. That’s an interesting idea of benign viruses building up to promote mutations. I think it’s more the bond between the genes isn’t as strong as it is with types which seem never to sport. Look at roses such as Kordes’ Frisco. There are a dozen mutations of that awful thing and none of them seem very stable, except Black Beauty, to which they all seem to want to revert/sport. There are definitely lines of mutating roses where they seem terribly/wonderfully unstable. They occur in Teas, HTs and floribundas as well as some Old European Roses.

I’ve isolated several sports over the years. Golden Julia is a golden mustard colored Julia’s Rose which seems to have lost a gene for pink; Festival Pink is a solid pink Festival Fanfare which also occurred about the same time in England as Loads of Pink; and Great News Sport,which was a lilac sport of LeGrice’s “pansy purple with silver reverse” Great News. Mr. Moore shared a piece of his QE76STR, a striped seedling from Queen Elizabeth. It sported to a stronger growing mutation with deep pink with white stripes flower as opposed to the original’s white with pink variegation. Of course I gave it back to him in hopes of it leading to something. Unfortunately, it never did. It exists in the San Jose Heritage. 'QE76STR Sport' Rose

Thinking in molecular biology terms, the viruses you mention are probably not wildly transmissible viruses like Cov2, or Rose Rosette. Instead they are most likely what Barbara McClintock called jumping genes, transposable elements. Most all plants have some of these and a lot of the DNA in a plant is just bunches of elements that seem to have quietly died and got left as ghosts. Others are activated by stresses of all kinds and move around. Sometimes they carry a useful gene from one chromosome to another. Sometimes they jump in and out of a gene affecting whether it gets expressed. Repeat blooming depends on an insertion in a gene that normally prevents precocious blooming. Take out that insertion cleanly and you get a once-blooming rose back. Remove it mostly and you may get something that grows canes way too long before blooming, a climber. The climber might or might not rebloom in the same year, depending on other things.
I think in McClintock’s scheme, crossing two complex roses leads to genetic stress. That makes the progeny prone to sporting until the chromosomes get done with rearranging to their happiest combination. that may be why climbing sports most commonly arise in HTs in the first few years of introduction. Of course massive reproduction by budding also creates genetic stress. And raising millions of budded roses gives a better chance to see new mutations.

Radiance came first, but these days its KO roses switching back and forth red to pink to red (to pink again?).