Anyone ever use 'James Mason'?

I must admit, I love bright scarlet red. James Mason looks intriguing to me because of its bright color on a gallica plant and seems more gallica-like than its parent ‘Scharlachglut’ and I could expect be healthier here than that one. I also really like the actor it was named after.

Anyone ever get good results from using it? I think it might be a good key into getting some bright colorful gallica-like shrubs out there. Especially since it has genes for remonantcy somewhere in there due to its grandmother, ‘Poinsettia’ correct?

Seems interesting.

When Beales created ‘James Mason’, there was a 50/50 chance it would inherit a single copy of the remontancy gene from ‘Scharlachglut’. I have a feeling it did not inherit a copy, so the likelihood of obtaining remontant offspring from ‘James Mason’ in the first generation is highly unlikely.

On the other hand, if bright, vibrant colors is what you want, it will surely do that. I made a cross of ‘Tuscany Superb’ X ‘James Mason’ in '07 and the vast majority were bright pink. Most were far too garish for my tastes, so only one seedling was kept, which was more of a crimson hue. The saved seedling really captured my attention with its blazing yellow/orange/red Fall foliage; an excellent trait to keep.

I think ‘James Mason’ is an excellent rose and deserves to be explored as a breeder, but you can expect to spend at least two generations of crossing before you start to obtain repeat blooming progeny.

Good luck, go for it, I say!


Years ago, a series of JM X Carefree Sunshine seedlings were entirely bland pink single once-bloomers, and not particularly healthy.

Oh no! That’s not good :frowning:

Yeah, Paul, color is a big draw for me. It’s actually why I dislike a lot of shrubs like ‘Knockout’, because even though it’s bright, I find the color to be rather poor and garish on those, and they age to be quite ugly. Pinks like that aren’t my thing, and even ‘Red Knockout’ is not really red to me and is better, but not as good. ‘Home Run’ is better, but from what I’ve seen the plant doesn’t seem “shrubby” enough for my tastes.

Bright colors in the red/scarlet family and vermilion are more acceptable to me and in plants are amazing to look at, especially when placed next to darker foliage.

I’m not so much interested in the remonantcy aspect as I am intrigued about the bright red and whatever other colors could also be inherited from ‘Poinsettia’ and its hybrid tea line through ‘James Mason’ to be incorporated into gallica shrubs, thus expanding that classes color palette if then that seedling is subsequently crossed back sometime to another shrub with red/orange/yellow. By back crossing to gallicas I would hope any disease problems that 'James Mason’s ‘Pointettia’ blood could have introduced could be softened and yet the plant would still have the potential for oddly colored offspring.

Does ‘James Mason’ serve better as a female parent or a male parent? I’m guessing it does better as a pollinator.

This is only my second year growing from seed, but one of the few plants that survived my first year’s experiments/abuse is an OP James Mason seedling. It hasn’t bloomed yet, but other than a little powdery mildew as a seedling, it’s been extremely healthy. The fall foliage color is reason enough to keep it unless the bloom is disgusting.

My attempts to germinate open pollinated ‘James Mason’ seed failed. They just didn’t germinate. I’d use it for pollen only. JM has excellent disease resistance in my climate, FYI; I regard it as one of a very small group of truly “bulletproof” roses I grow.

So James Mason is a good pollen parent?

If you mean “fertile”, then yes. But if you’re asking if ‘James Mason’ is a potentially good parent, producing worthwhile offspring, my admittedly limited experience with it suggests that it has very little to offer, genetically.

1 Like

So it won’t pass on it’s red colour to old roses?

I’m sure that if you mated it with the right thing, and grew enough seedlings, you’d find some good reds. But you might have to grow 100 seedlings to find one or two good ones.

Thank you for your knowledge. So in your view it’s not worth the risk or time spent on goals that are this unlikely? I guess that’s a lot of space for a small chance dice roll

Well, that’s up to you, really. If you have the space to grow scores of seedlings for a minimum of two years to see them flower (they will all be once bloomers, I’m certain of that) and you don’t mind investing the resources, then why not.
It also depends on what you want from a cross. If it’s your intent to eventually get to a plant that repeats well and yet still has the same beautiful flowers in the James Mason style on a healthy plant, that’s years away when starting out with James Mason, since it’s very unlikely that it inherited the repeat gene from Scharlachglut. So if you want repeaters, you’re going to have to reintroduce the appropriate genes from something - probably a modern variety of China descent, as the remontancy genes in the Damask Perpetual types are NOT easily transmitted and rarely manifest in the desired behavior. I found that when mating something from the Gallica clan with something from the China clan, it opened a Pandora’s Box of undesirable traits: lots of disease susceptibility, plants that grew large and went all over the place (poor architecture) and none of them repeats. You can select a favorite from those seedlings and breed the next generation, using another remontant variety (probably another modern rose of China descent) in order to find a few repeat bloomers, but at that point you will be so far away from the Gallica traits that make James Mason special, and your seedlings won’t likely resemble their grandparent at all by then.

This is why David Austin used Portlands like Comte de Chambord to kick start his breeding lines. But he also started with Gallicas - Chianti came out of a cross of Dusky Maiden X Tuscany and Chianti still looks a lot like a Gallica in habit/style, as most first gen Gallica hybrids will. But to get the first repeat blooming variety with traits he liked/wanted, he had to cross it with Gipsy Boy, which has another copy of the remontancy gene in it. The selection he got from the cross was The Knight, his first repeating red. But The Knight is still FAR from perfect - it’s too big, it’s not generous with bloom, it is very susceptible to Blackspot and it barely qualifies as a repeat bloomer (Spring flush followed by an occasional bloom later in the season). It took yet another generation of breeding to get anything really worthwhile from that breeding line (Prospero, for one). So, it’s a serious time & resource investment when using Gallica hybrids in breeding, if the goal is to produce a repeat blooming shrub with good character and reasonable size.

However, if your goal is to breed a large once-bloomer with good color and a single or modestly double flower, then that is within reach in a single generation, as long as you’re able to grow enough seedlings to allow you to see the full scope of possibilities. Expect many seedlings to be weak and mildew prone (discard those immediately!) and plan on growing at least fifty plants to blooming size. (Ralph always said that you need at least 100 seedlings from any cross to see the full range of the genetic possibilities)
If I were to use James Mason in breeding again, I would venture far outside “the typical” when selecting a mate, in the hopes of unlocking unique traits. I would select something like Suzanne (or even Simonet’s Red Dawn X Suzanne) or maybe Prairie Magic (J-5), or even Chianti, if my goal was a once-blooming variety with big blooms of rich hue. I suggested Suzanne (Hybrid Spinosissima) because I have used it and gotten very interesting plants from it, many of which were repeaters. It also tends to pass on very good disease resistance. I think I would also try mating James Mason with L83, Felicitas Svejda’s AgCan breeder created from Kordesii. I find L83 breeds plants with superior disease resistance, and bloom form and color is typically influenced mostly by the other parent chosen.
Anyway, maybe you got some ideas from all that.


I have indeed added to my plans. Suzanne being the primary one. I guess I will be mostly getting once blooming types as I will be using Portland’s, Gallicas and repeat blooming Spinosissimas from the stanwell perpetual line (Paula Vapelle and Mon Amie Claire. My aim is primarily to make unique roses for my garden… However I have time on my side and will be happy to play the long game :grin:

Looks like I won’t be getting my hands on Suzanne, it’s never been sold in the UK and the closest places in Europe that have sold it aren’t… Also the import hassle is never fun

I saw you were in a conversation about Belle de Crecy 14 years ago… It seems that it has china ancestry. Did you find rebloom in any of the offspring? Thanks again for your in depth answer, it’s much appreciated