At the commencement of this century novelty roses imported into Australia seldom exceeded a dozen each year, and one could rely on every one being a novelty in its true sense-a definite advance in some way. The length of petal, the form, and the freedom of blooming were all improving, and most of the new roses had a strong perfume.
Then came the changes consequent to Pernet-Ducher’s work -losses and gains, but the hybridists by hard, persistent, and highly intelligent work have so interbred, over and over again, Pernetianas, Hybrid Teas, Teas, Hybrid Perpetuals, Poly-anthas, and others that clear lines of demarcation now seldom exist. We have been lifted out of our troubles and have better roses than ever before. Retaining good growth, good disease-resistance, good form, good stem, and good perfume, we have roses that bloom more constantly and with hitherto undreamtof colourings. Vermilion, scarlet, claret, tomato-red, orange-red, silvery buff, orange, copper, apricot, gold, and salmon pink, as well as the plain reds, pinks, yellows, creams, and whites-all as self-colours or as bicolours, in all the many possible combinations-have ceased to amaze us. We have them as healthy Hybrid Teas and as Floribundas and often with climbing sports.
The blue rose is becoming a less remote possibility, and several oversea hybridists now have mauve Hybrid Tea varieties. Until quite recently, Veilchenblau, a climbing Hybrid Wichuraiana, and Baby Faurax, a dwarf Polyantha, remained as our only examples of near-blue roses of any type. In 1948 Eugene S. Boerner gave us Lavender Pinocchio, which is a large-flowered Floribunda. In the young blooms the colour is undoubtedly lavender; faint pink shades intrude as the flowers age. Meanwhile Samuel McGredy had produced Grey Pearl, a Hybrid Tea, which most people disliked, but it is proving to be a useful parent from which to develop new mauve varieties. McGredy’s best rose of this colour, so far, is Lilac Time. It is about the size of the pink rose, Picture, and is a true unshaded and unfading mauve. Prelude, from Francis Meillard, is bigger but paler and looser. However, really clear blue is a colour so foreign to roses that it is likely to be a long time before we see a variety approaching the colour of gentians, delphiniums, or cornflowers.