Reinhard and his Roses

by Lily Whitworth-Biehler
BSc (Hons)

On his journey to England in the late sixties, the young Reinhard Biehler found himself in rose fields of France working for 'Meilland' a company renowned the world over for it's highly successful rose breeding program.
Inspired by Meillands techniques and results, Reinhard was soon dreaming of cultivating his own roses. Shortly after reaching England he began the painstaking process of creating his own unique roses.

 

Reinhard and Neils - still close friends today

Success is a long wait in the world of rose breeding and Reinhard had to wait until 1975 to see the first of his roses officially recognised by the British Association of Rose Breeders. "Jutta Biehler" was named after his first daughter. A free flowering floribunda with striking, fragrant blooms. The rose was popular with customers and still is today.

 

Rose "Jutta Biehler"

"The feeling of creating something completely new is wonderful. Being able to call it whatever you want and keep it close to your heart, just makes it more special"

Two more roses quickly followed and were naturally named after his other two daughters. "Gitta Biehler" is an vermillion orange floribunda and "Elke Biehler" is a Red single shrub rose with a white centre.

Other roses followed through the years and names were assigned to reflect different organisations raising money for good causes. This reflection of Reinhards generosity was always appreciated as a portion of the sales revenue was donated to the causes. When a stunning pink Hybrid Tea was cultivated it only seemed right to name it "Race for Life"



Rose Gitta Biehler

Earlier this year Reinhard celebrated his 70th Birthday. His family commissioned a rose breeder to cultivate a new rose to be named in Reinhards honour.

Reinhard Biehler MBE is a large flowering floribunda, pink in bud, mauve in flower. It's a truly stunning rose and a fitting tribute to a man who has dedicated much of his life to creating beautiful roses for us all to enjoy.

The rose was unveiled to the public at last years annual Baytree Rose festival, and is now available to buy, of course there will be Reinhards usual contribution to good causes from the resulting sales.



Rose Elke Biehler

Breeding Roses,

a brief overview

by Lily Whitworth-Biehler
BSc (Hons)

Forty years ago in 1975 the owner of Baytree Nurseries, Reinhard Biehler finally succeeded in getting recognition for a new breed of rose he created named after his first daughter ‘Jutta Biehler’. This long road began when in the late sixties when, on his way into England Reinhard experienced rose breeding while working for ‘Meillands’, a world renowned company for rose breeding in France. Reinhards first success spurred him to create more varieties, the first two naturally being named after his other daughters, ‘Gitta Biehler’ and ‘Elke Biehler’, as more roses followed they were named after good causes such as a stunning pink rose being named ‘Race for Life’ where profits were donated to the causes that they are named after. Breeding roses isn’t as simple as it may seem, when crossing the genes of two different species of roses the genetic information never mixes the same way. This results in each new seedling growing differently, with variation not just in the flower and fragrance but also in the thorn density, foliage density and colour and to the more practical details such as resistance to disease to the optimum climate for the rose.

 

Rose "Jutta Biehler"



Rose New Dawn

Planning a rose breed is vital, two beautiful roses may not necessarily produce a beautiful cross breed. The planning of a new rose can start up to a year before the pollination of the roses. The main traits that are considered are; colour, flower structure, petal thickness, scent, growth and vigour, thorns, health and repeat blooming. There are also certain species of roses that make better parents than others; these will also be split into those than are better as the seed parent and those that serve well as the pollen parent. A good example of a pollen parent is ‘New Dawn’ which was introduced in 1930. All flowers are identical, all medium sized produced in a cluster with a silvery blush-pink colour which deepens towards the centre. It is a climbing rose and is one of the best and most vigorous making it still incredibly popular today. It has perpetual glossy foliage and a sweet fruit fragrance and can grow between 10-15 ft. This modern climber also continues to flower right through to winter. It really is an outstanding plant for any garden, and you get all that for less than £5.00 (at Baytree).

A good example of a seed parent is ‘Moyesii Geranium’ a naturally occurring rose which is well suited as a seed parent due to the large hips (seed pods) it produces. When a rose has been fertilised the flower completes its cycle to form a ‘hip’ (also known as the fruit of the rose), which contains the seeds, the actual amount of seeds varies from four or five to up to a hundred or so. A Moyesii Geranium produces bright orange hips which are about 5-6cm in length. The flowers produced vary between rose-pink, blood-red and dark crimson but all have deep yellow anthers. It is a shrub rose, which is still widely popular, as it produces a large vigorous shrub up to four metres tall with a subtle sweet scent. This beautiful rose is sold at Baytree for only £9.99.

The pollination of the roses is a very delicate process, as many English roses often have very little pollen. The pollen is collected from the anthers (which are located at the top of the stamen) the pollen parent rose is labelled, dried and stored. Pollination usually starts early to mid summer depending on when the parent variety blooms. The ideal time to collect the pollen is when the flower is just under three quarters open (usually around late June) as leaving it too long can result in contamination by pollinating insects or pollen shedding. If done too early the bloom will be extremely tight and can result in the stigmas been pulled away as well as the seed chamber. The pollen is gently collected into the labelled containers, and covered with masking tape. Within twelve to twenty four hours the pollen will be released from the sacs where a yellow dust will remain. The pollen is then only viable for three to four days if kept at room temperature or up to four weeks if refrigerated.


 



‘Moyesii Geranium’ a great seed parent



Harvesting Rose Seeds

This pollen will then be used to fertilise the see parent rose. The dried pollen is usually applied with a brush or simply a finger. The pollen must be brushed onto the stigma not too gentle so that not enough pollen gets attached but not too vigorously that it becomes bruised or broken. The pollen ideally will be transferred to all of the pollen pads to create as many seeds in the hip as possible. However some pollen is bigger than others and can sometimes not be compatible with the stigmas of the seed parent rose. The weather can also effect how fertilised the rose becomes, ideally two days without rain after pollination should be counted on to allow for optimum fertilisation. If rain is possible cover the flower with a plastic bag to prevent the pollen from being washed away.

It takes three-four months for the hips to develop; ideally this is done before any heavy frost. The seeds are taken form the hips and cleaned in a metal sieve; this also breaks down the seed coat very slightly. The seeds can then be placed into labelled plastic bags (ideally with a pencil for longevity) with a perlite such as Westlands Gro-Sure perlite material which is sold at £7.99 for a ten litre bag. These bags should then be stored in a warm room for about a month. After this period the bags are then placed in a cooler fridge room for six weeks (usually December to January) when removed from here some of the seeds will have sprouted, these are then planted in trays with seed and potting compost.

When the seedlings around 3-4 inches (75-100mm) they can be transferred in to pots; they are planted shallowly in the compost with each pot being labelled. All rose hybrids are placed in greenhouses as it keeps a warmer temperature which will not fluctuate so the seeds will propagate sooner. Propagation can take anywhere between three weeks to a year depending on the crosses made and the environmental factors but most will take between four and six weeks. The amount of seeds that propagate is mainly up to chance, it is important to get as many seeds as possible as roses only have a 20% propagation rate.

Different roses grow at different rates, so be patient! Direct sunlight that is vital to their growth, so they are kept in a greenhouse. The pot should be proportionate to the size of the seedling, only making the pot bigger when it is needed for the growth of the plant. Keep the seedlings well fertilized, especially when they start to develop their first leaves, and try to protect from insects and aphids.


 


When they reach between six and eight inches tall the first flower is likely to bloom except those that have climbing roses as parents. Each rose is a unique version of the genes it inherits, so there will be great variation in growth among the seedlings and the characteristics they produce. While the first flower may not represent the true size, it does show the colour, number of petals and foliage allowing a decision to be made about which new hybrid is completely unique. The chances are that a first generation hybrid has already been bred and registered. Totally unique roses are usually 4th or 5th generation hybrids and must go through trials and development before being registered. The rose must sustain its form and attributes over several seasons so it can be assured to be constant once marketed.

When it has been decided which new rose is unique and has the possibility of becoming a new hybrid it must then be grafted so that the same rose is produced each time. This can be done by cuttings or by budding onto rose root stock. This is usually done around mid summer, after the rose has had time to be seen as a new breed, it also gives the graft time to ‘take’ which requires sap to be in full flow. To bud the rose you need an selection of rose stock plants, planted the previous autumn, to graft the new breed to. First the buds from the new breed of rose bush need to be prepared, cut a piece of the steam, about ten inches long. The cutting should be left in water for a few hours, so the bud can be grafted easily in the afternoon, giving the bud overnight to settle. However when there is a large number of roses to bud the ideal time to do it may not always be possible to achieve.


 


To get a bud you always want to start at the top of the stick, making sure the knife is as sharp as possible to reduce the damage to the wood. Cut just below the bud, place your thumb of the bud and peel away the bark giving a handle to work with. The wood from within the bud then needs to be removed, peel the handle back and place your knife under the wood and flick it out to reduce damage to the bud as much as possible.

To then graft the bud to the stock plant, take the knife and cut away the bark at an angle up the stem, and then cut down the stem to make a ‘T cut’ the angle giving you the ability to peel back each section to slide the bud into the cut with your knife with the handle of the bud facing up the stem. It is essential that only the bark layer is cut, because if the cambium layer is cut the graft will not be successful as this is the layer that transports nutrients and water around the plant.

The newly inserted bud should then bound if possible (many commercial growers do not have time for this) the cheapest way is to use an elastic band, which can be left on but be careful not to obstruct where the bud will grow out. This is to make sure the bud remains bound to the cambium layer. Once the bud has grafted as is beginning to grow the top foliage of the plant needs to be reduced or in some cases removed. Once the new shoot is able to survive the stick plant must be pruned back to just above new growth. This will then create the same rose that you decided was a new breed, and can then reproduce the same rose from this grafted plant.

Doesn’t sound too hard does it! This has been a brief synopsis of what is an art form. The planning and preparation that go into the creation of a new rose is truly staggering, to know which parent roses to choose to optimise the outcome requires far more than blind luck. It’s a science that requires patience and dedication, but then again you could just get lucky. Ever wondered why there isn’t a true blue rose? Why there’s no black rose? All the science in the world can’t produce a blue or black rose, but perhaps an amateur breeder might just stumble across that ‘Holy Grail’. Perhaps, it could be you. If it all seems to daunting try my "quick guide" here

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