HelpMeFind Roses, Clematis and Peonies
Roses, Clematis and Peonies
and everything gardening related.
Patricia Routley
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Initial post 4 days ago by HubertG
The description page for 'Alexander Hill Gray' says "sets no hips". I've always found mine sets hips (which hold seeds) fairly readily. I find this a bit puzzling.
Reply #1 of 20 posted 4 days ago by HMF Admin
And this is exactly why comments like yours are so useful and what makes HMF so special. At some point in time, a permanent reference indicated otherwise and now we know that reference is in question based on your experience.

We need more people take the time to share their experience - Thanks !
Reply #2 of 20 posted 4 days ago by Patricia Routley
I certainly wouldn't discount that reference Admin. What we need is more of them to say if this rose does, or does not set hips. The fact that we show just one 1922 descendant indicates that it does not, and therefore there is a possibility that HubertG has received a rose other than 'Alexander Hill Gray'. Every reference is valuable.
Reply #3 of 20 posted 4 days ago by HubertG
Thanks HMF Admin,
This site is a veritable commonwealth of rose knowledge; the more contributions the better.

Patricia, I have two bushes of AHG ordered from different nurseries maybe 5 years apart. They are both the same and both do set hips. They do look the same as other AHGs in Australia posted here (I've posted a few photos of mine too) This is a double rose but not what I'd call a full one and so they have normal looking reproductive parts and, if insects can get in, I can't see any reason (barring an odd ploidy) why it shouldn't set hips. That's why I thought the no hips reference was unusual. By the time AHG was introduced Teas were waning in popularity, so that is probably the likeliest reason it wasn't used much in breeding, in my opinion.
Reply #4 of 20 posted 4 days ago by HubertG
There are in fact a couple of hips on Margaret Furness' photo here:
Reply #5 of 20 posted 4 days ago by Patricia Routley
That is interesting HubertG. They are hard to see, but I do see them.
I suspect Margaret didn't note them as she has said in her more recent photo 315211 that her plant didn't set hips.
Unfortunately 'Alexander Hill Gray' never came my way, so I have no first-hand experience. How else can I help here?
Reply #6 of 20 posted 4 days ago by HubertG
Best to wait for more comments on this topic, I'd say.
Reply #7 of 20 posted 4 days ago by Margaret Furness
Maybe it varies with how the weather has been. There's nothing on mine now that I would call a hip. It doesn't flower much in a dry summer.
Reply #8 of 20 posted 4 days ago by billy teabag
Do your 'Alexander Hill Gray' plants have prickles HubertG?
Reply #9 of 20 posted 4 days ago by HubertG
No, it's virtually thornless. I took some photos this morning of a few hips on one of my AHGs, which I'll post later.

Its thornlessness was the reason I had previously questioned whether it might have in fact been Mme Derepas-Metrat, one of the other "Yellow Cochets", because that was nearly thornless according to references, and thornlessness is a rarity in early roses.
Reply #10 of 20 posted 3 days ago by HubertG
There were five hips on one of my plants this morning. I didn't check the other plant. The split hip is one I collected about April, showing the seeds. I do think the weather conditions play a part; AHG does tend to ball a bit, so if it doesn't open, it won't become fertilised.
Reply #11 of 20 posted 2 days ago by Patricia Routley
HubertG, I have added a few more references. I have more but it is late and I don't think any more are relevant. Take a look at the 1939 reference. I suspect there may be different versions of 'Alexander Hill Gray' in Australia as the 1998 reference says this rose fades. Most other references says it deepens.
Reply #12 of 20 posted 2 days ago by Margaret Furness
The plant at Renmark derived from the one at Bishop's Lodge, via John Nieuwesteeg. Mine has fallen off my list of provenances, but it's likely it was a spare from when I grew the one for Renmark from cuttings (which is partly why I have too many roses).
Reply #13 of 20 posted yesterday by HubertG
Patricia, lots of good new references! The most puzzling aspect for me is not so much the hips or whether the colour fades or deepens but the fragrance which is nearly always described as strong. Sangerhausen gives AHG an 8/10 for fragrance, which is the same they give Marechal Niel, and they also only give Mrs Foley Hobbs (which I find has a stronger fragrance than AHG) a 5/10. I'd only rate AHG about a 3/10 for fragrance. I know fragrance is very subjective, but I think I have a good nose.If the fragrance description in old references varied a lot, or if there were lots of omissions on the fragrance description, I could understand, but it is fairly consistently rated as strong.

Margaret, did Bishop's Lodge have a known specimen of AHG, or was it a found bush that was later given AHG as it's identity? Maybe there are two versions of AHG in Australia. Maybe Mme Derepas-Metrat is one of them, after all they were both "Yellow Cochets". Does your Bishop's lodge AHG with the needle-like thorns have a good fragrance?

Also the 1925 Darlington (English) reference is puzzling because it describes a plant "up to 8-ft, or a little more under glass". My two bushes are barely waist height.
Reply #14 of 20 posted yesterday by Margaret Furness
I think the Bishop's Lodge plant would have been identified by John N and David Ruston. As far as I know, but am willing to be corrected, none of the BL plants were labelled.
The plant from Melbourne General Cemetery was identified by Roy Rumsey, who had grown it years earlier.
I'll check fragrance when it flowers again, but I'm not a good judge. My plant is small too so far.
Reply #15 of 20 posted yesterday by HubertG
I just found and uploaded a 1919 catalogue photo of a whole bunch of 'Alexander Hill Gray' (photo Id:319773). There are thorns visible on the stems and although they don't seem "needle-like" because they are fairly wide, they are quite straight. If it is to be believed, it is also interesting in that the flower form seems to vary considerably from what I grow as AHG. I'd be interested in seeing more of Margaret Furness' prickled Bishop's Lodge AHG later on when it's in flower to compare.
Reply #16 of 20 posted today by HubertG
From "The Garden", Oct 10, 1908 page 493:

...there are other Roses not yet distributed which have obtained a gold medal. To refer to them would be going beyond the scope of these notes; but an exception, however, must be made in favour of a yellow Tea named A. Hill Gray. This Rose promises to be a favourite for the garden and suitable for exhibition. The growth is branching but somewhat slender, free-flowering habit, blooms fairly full, colour yellow, shaded white.
Joseph H. Pemberton"

And from "The Garden", Sep 26, 1908, page 465


A. Hill Gray. - A Tea raised by Messrs. Alexander Dickson and Sons of Newtownards, Ireland. A beautiful Rose of excellent shape, well staged on a tall stand. Delightful pale yellow colouring, fragrant and a good grower; undoubtedly the finest Rose staged in the class. The award of a gold medal was practically unanimous. Good Teas are scarce and are very welcome, especially when up to exhibition standards.
Herbert E. Molyneux"
Reply #17 of 20 posted today by Patricia Routley
Thanks HubertG. References added.
Reply #18 of 20 posted today by billy teabag
I've just added a few more references to Alexander Hill Gray, including a couple (1954 and 1938) that refer to thornless stems.
Reply #19 of 20 posted today by HubertG
Billy, they're very interesting because they seem to be the only early references to the lack of thorns, and they are local too. If both AHG and Mme Derepas-Metrat were virtually thornless, I wonder if AHG was bred from the other. It makes sense that if you had a rose praised as a yellow Cochet in MmeDM, to use it to try to raise something better. And if that were the case, AHG's tendency to sometimes blush pink could be inherited from MmeDM's pollen parent Marie van Houtte. Pure speculation of course.
Reply #20 of 20 posted today by billy teabag
When there is an equivalent of Trove in other countries, we'll probably find more references like this.
Margaret's comment is sadly true. Many of the people responsible for those early descriptions probably only ever handled a bloom on a stem that had been de-thorned by the gardener.
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Initial post 19 APR by Give me caffeine
Cool. I must email T4R again and see if they managed to get one going for this year. The previous year's budding season was a disaster for them. Too much heat and not enough rain.
Reply #1 of 13 posted 21 APR by billy teabag
Let me know if you need cuttings.
It's interesting that you say T4Roses had a terrible budding season last year and put it down to heat and dryness. Something similar happened here - an unprecedented failure with many of the roses budded in January. In this case, the nursery people were scratching heads and ended up assuming it must have had something to do with the unusual, and unusually heavy, rain at that time.
Reply #2 of 13 posted 24 APR by Give me caffeine
Speaking of cuttings: what have you found is the best way to get the buggers going? Method, time of year, etc.

That 'Restless' that I rescued when it blew off its rootstock is still going, but I haven't had any luck striking other roses so I must be doing something wrong.

On a non-Tea note: I'm going to have to try 'Aotearoa' as cuttings, because I'm not having much joy with it on multiflora. The rootstock is suckering like crazy and is very rampant if I take my eyes off it for a while, while the scion is healthy enough but not keeping up.

Funnily enough, this is the only one that is doing this. Rootstocks under the rest of the roses are behaving just fine. Beats me why.
Reply #3 of 13 posted 24 APR by Margaret Furness
Have a look at
I do best with the doggybag (ziplock bag) method when I'm likely to get 6 weeks of warm weather.
In May in the southern states, in-ground is usually considered the best option (I don't like it because digging them up over a year later can be very hard work). If you're in the subtropics, you may get away with the doggybag method even this late in the year. A few modifications: the kittylitter formula has apparently changed, and I can't find a suitable replacement, so I'm using Perlite as an aerator instead. If you use ziplock bags with a double zip, they may be re-usable.
Reply #4 of 13 posted 24 APR by Give me caffeine
Cheapo kitty litter these days is based on bentonite, which is a clay that absorbs heaps of water easily, but turns to the most horrible gluggy glue when it does. Not good for trying to root cuttings in.

Have you tried the wrapping method?

Quote from the post at the top of that page: "I had gone from 100% failure, to over 80% success with 135 cuttings. This was with a variety of different rose types, from polyanthas, climbers, species crosses, HTs and floribundas, not just a few varieties which root fairly easily."

It sounds promising, and I think I recall Patricia getting good results with this method.
Reply #5 of 13 posted 27 APR by Margaret Furness
I stay with the doggybag (ziplock bag) method, because it works well for me: on the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" principle. The wrapping method does sound useful.
Reply #6 of 13 posted 27 APR by HubertG
I haven't had great luck with cuttings, but one technique that I found works is to wrap the end of the cutting with a ball of sphagnum moss, wrap it tightly with a rubber band, so that the end is definitely in contact with the moss, and plant it in the usual way. I think this works because the moss has antifungal and antibacterial properties, and prevents it from rotting.

I was reading on the Bermuda Rose Society website that spraying with dilute copper sulphate really improves their strike rate too.

That damp parcel technique does look interesting.

I never know whether to remove thorns that will go in the soil. What do you all do with thorns?
Reply #7 of 13 posted 27 APR by billy teabag
Margaret has the runs on the board in successful cuttings department.
My success rate is much patchier. There seems to be quite a bit of alchemy involved.
The method I find easiest is one Patricia taught me.
You need clear plastic party cups, large zip lock bags and a cheap plastic crate with a lid and the potting medium of choice.
Make a few drainage holes in the bottom of the plastic cups..
Fill with potting medium of choice. In the west, Richgro cutting and seed raising mix is good but brickies sand is OK too.
Make sure medium is really well wetted and then well drained. No pockets of dry or water-repellant medium.
Write rose name on outside of cup with a permanent marker.

Select your cutting material. If you have a piece with four eyes, leave the leaves on the top two.
Push cuttings into cup of cutting mix. (One to a cup).
Put cup or cups into large zip-lock bags and seal and then put that into plastic crate. Put plastic crate into that magic spot that isn't too hot or too cold and forget about it for 6 weeks.
After 6 weeks, check. They are generally either black and furry, or have chosen life and you might even be able to see the little white roots against the inside of the clear plastic cup.
When they get to that stage you can open the bag and allow them to gradually acclimatise outside before potting up.

I like this method because you can see when they have grown roots and are ready to pot up into a nourishing potting medium and this can be done with minimal root disturbance.

Also like this advice from 1888 and often take cuttings of Teas, Chinas and Noisettes as suggested here - with that little heel on the end.
"With the exception of the Noisettes and Tea Roses, all grow well and readily from stout cuttings of 4 or 5 eyes, planted in May or June in an open border up to the top-most eye, and kept moist in dry weather. ... The wood of the Noisettes and Tea Roses is very pithy, and on that account it will not callus and root properly. The small spurs from these kinds, however, little twigs, which have borne blooms during the previous season, when taken off the plant with a heel, grow readily, when inserted in a sandy soil and kept damp.
In the first year, they make, of course, only small plants, but being vigorous growers, they soon rapidly increase in size, and the third season will make large specimens of them.
The principal condition in growing Roses from cuttings is to plant early in autumn, before the soil gets too cold."
From The Rosary and the Cultivation of the Rose by “Hortus” in The Western Mail [Perth], February 18, 1888 p11
Reply #8 of 13 posted 27 APR by Margaret Furness
The cup method uses much less potting mix than the doggybag one. However, I did badly with the cup method because the little roots insist on crawling out through the drainage holes, and then potting up disturbs them too much. It doesn't seem to happen with the doggybags.
I usually leave thorns on, but they can be a nuisance in the doggybags.
Reply #9 of 13 posted 27 APR by Give me caffeine
Righty-o. Thanks all. I suppose I should just get some bits and try a range of methods.

I can see copper sulphate being useful as an anti-fungal agent, but I think I'll skip that for now.

Billy's 1888 reference is interesting, because Teas and Noisettes is mainly what I want to try. Although I must say I am liking Chinas quite a lot up here, and another Souvenir de St. Anne's or two would be nice.

I would like to find a method that didn't rely on single-use plastic, as that sort of thing really is getting to be a bit of a worry these days. Little bits of plastic have been found everywhere, in large concentrations, from a mile deep in the Great Australian Bight, to frozen in Arctic sea ice.
Reply #10 of 13 posted 27 APR by Patricia Routley
I wash and re-use my glasses/cups.
Reply #11 of 13 posted 27 APR by Margaret Furness
Indeed. I'm trying washing-out and re-using the recent batch of doggybgs, which have a double zip. I suppose I could try May cuttings in pots almost buried in the garden, to make it easier to remove them later, but that's very restricting re time of starting cuttings. Old-rose rescuers know that you take the cuttings when you see the rose, because there's a substantial chance it will be gone when you go back.
I've wondered if the "heel" improves the strike rate because it gives a larger area of exposed cambium to produce roots. Probably re-inventing the wheel here - horticulturalists doubtless know why it works.
Teas, Noisettes, Chinas, Polyanthas and ramblers mostly strike root readily in doggybags (not Chromatella, as someone complained in 1881, see references). HTs are variable, especially the yellows.
Leonie K says Noisettes do poorly on their own roots in Brisbane. Interesting.
Reply #12 of 13 posted 28 APR by Give me caffeine
It's May now. I'm up for any method that works in May.
Reply #13 of 13 posted today by HubertG
I decided to give that wrapping method for cuttings a go, so just giving a report here. I initially took only 4 cuttings of my Dr Grill (not knowing how this would work). I took ~15cm cuttings of wood that had flowered but had not yet reshooted. I dipped them in a solution of copper sulphate. I tore off the leaf stalks and thorns and painted these areas with rooting gel and let the bases of the cuttings sit for about 10 minutes in rooting hormone liquid mixed with some water. While they were soaking I wet about 5 layers of newspaper in the sink and let it drain well so it wasn't dripping. Then I simply lay the cuttings on the damp paper and folded it up, sealed it in a large snap-lock bag and put it in a drawer for two weeks. The ideal temperature range given on that website converts to about 10-20°C, which is just right for here in Sydney in June.
Opening them up today I found that callouses and the beginnings of rootlets had formed most quickly where I had torn the leaves off. I'm inclined to leave them in the packets for a few more days and pot them up in larger snap-lock bags (Margaret's method) and hope it's not too cold for them to take off.
I'm quite pleased initially with this novel approach because traditionally I haven't had good luck with cuttings and it is rather easy too.
most recent yesterday HIDE POSTS
Initial post 3 days ago by Robert Neil Rippetoe
Why do so many listings present as, "thornless (or almost)", when very clearly they are not?

Is this part of the default system at HMF?

If so it really needs to be corrected.

Thanks, Robert
Reply #1 of 5 posted 2 days ago by Patricia Routley
HelpMeFind has just two choices:
1. armed with thorns / prickles
2. thornless (or almost)
(for which I am a little pleased actually, as I have rose bushes here which on occasions can have four prickly canes, and one utterly smooth cane.)

The source link (David Austin website) says of 'Carolyn Knight': apart from colour, all other characteristics are the same as 'Summer Song' from which it sported.

The U.S. patent for 'Summer Song' says:
Prickles: Quantity.--On main canes from base: Ordinary, 4 per 10 cm stem length. On laterals from main canes: Ordinary, 5 per 10 cm per stem length. Form.--Concave curved inward. Length.--9 mm. Color when young.--Greyed-Purple Group 185A with Yellow-Green Group 146D at tip. Color when mature.--Greyed-Orange Group 164A at base, Greyed-Purple Group 184B at tip and along upper edge. Small prickles: Quantity.--On main stalks: None. On laterals: None.

If you can work out from that what we should list, we would be delighted to correct things.
You might like to see some homework I did to teach me about prickles years ago:

PRICKLES (prickles, bristles and glands)
Thorns spring from the wood. Stiff and immovable. A Bougainvillea has thorns
Prickles grow from the bark and can be easily rubbed off. Roses have prickles. Stiff and immovable.
Bristles can be moved as the hairs in a brush

Prickle Colour Immature _______ Mature _______ Old ________
____________ red, brown, grey, white, black

Prickle Duration
Caducous when they fall with or after the leaves and don’t stay on the wood long than 2 years.
Persistent when they become entirely woody, very hard and stay several years on the old wood.

Prickles - Where and number
Thornless; Almost thornless; Few thorns; Prickly;
Sparse (placed without order here and there); Grouped (several close together at certain places, while lacking in other place); Close-set; Dispersed; Scattered; Bristles (gallica); Intermingled with bristles (centifolia); Single; In pairs; Geminate (placed in pairs); Often paired; Infrastipular or stipulary (just below the base of a leaf or stipule)

Prickle - Shape
Simple; Compound (as in R. simplicifolia (Hulthemia persica); Alike - (all straight or all hooked);
Dissimilar (some straight, others hooked); Sharp spines; Thin sharp; Needle-shaped; Curved; Large curved (tea, bourbon); Slightly curved; In an Arc; Hooked; Very hooked; Falcate (hooked like a sickle); Straight; Nearly straight (alba) ; Flattened; Thin; Slender; Thick; Wide; Broad at base; Narrow at base; Width variable; Dilated at the base; Base enlarged; Base thick; Base compressed; Base decurrent (prolonged stemwards); Winged thorns; Wing-shaped; Thorny; Strong; Fierce; Weak (easily pushed off - gallica); Short; Long; Equal; Unequal;
Prickle - Size____________

Colour ______________;
Bristles can be moved as the hairs in a brush. Bristles; Rare; Sparse; Grouped; Numerous; Innumerable; Close-set; Stiff; Soft; Equal; Unequal; glandulose (topped by a gland; Stiff glandular hairs; Aciculi (needles); Setiform - thorns degenerated into bristles.

Colour ______; Sessile (no stalk); Pedicellate (stalk) ; Spherical; Oval; Disformed (irregular form);
Fragrant; Scentless; viscous.
Reply #2 of 5 posted 2 days ago by Andrew from Dolton
I just looked at 'Summer Song' and the older growths have a few prickles scattered amongst them. However, there is a new shoot about 1M long and that is liberally armed with longish rather flat hooked prickles all along its length. From the photograph you can see the difference between the raspberry-purple coloured and greyish colour of the new and old prickles.
Reply #3 of 5 posted 2 days ago by Robert Neil Rippetoe
Options given for entry at HMF are inadequate.

As any rose grower will tell you, very few are "thornless or almost".

The flaw in the system makes it impossible to discern those which truly are.

It's too bad this wasn't caught years ago because correcting all the entries is going to be an onerous chore.

In the future there will be many which are truly smooth. Breeders are making this possible.

"Thornless" is a poor choice of words in the first place as taxonomists tell us roses have prickles not thorns.

The software needs an update.

Thanks, Robert
Reply #4 of 5 posted 2 days ago by Patricia Routley
I have changed 'Carolyn Knight' to "armed with thorns / prickles".
Yes, it is too bad, and it will be an onerous chore. Do you want to help?
Reply #5 of 5 posted yesterday by Robert Neil Rippetoe

You do have a way of coming right to the the point. I appreciate that.

Has anyone defined yet how to be more precise in categorization?

If changes are to be made, they really must be made right, or as best possible.

Should prickle size be part of the equation?

It's daunting to think of the labor needed.

I wonder if anyone might come up with an algorithm that would clean up most listings in one fell swoop?

I mean most are going to fall into an "average" category.

Having the discussion is a step in the right direction.

Thanks, Robert
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Initial post 7 JAN 16 by AquaEyes
Has this been compared to 'Francis E. Lester'?


Reply #1 of 4 posted 2 days ago by Tearose
I took a piece of FEL with me a few years ago when I was going to San Juan Bautista. I held my piece against the plant there and couldn't find any difference. I'm pretty sure all the old climbers in that part of the park came from Roses of Yesterday, with the clincher being that the rose they had labeled a multiflora turned out to be Laure Davoust, which Francis Lester had found and sold under the name Marjorie Lester.
Reply #2 of 4 posted 2 days ago by Patricia Routley
Shall I merge "San Juan Musk" with 'Frances E. Lester'?
Reply #3 of 4 posted 2 days ago by Tearose
Reply #4 of 4 posted 2 days ago by Patricia Routley
Done. (I seem to have a memory of the two of us tiredly resting on a rock somewhere out of Dunedin, New Zealand in 2005 and asking each other: what are you going to do in the future.)
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