Nothing is more magical than imagining creating a new variety of roses. And yet there is no need for that to be a sorcerer's apprentice. We wanted to know more about this hidden face of garden centers which each year reveal and baptize roses, always more beautiful, more resistant, more flowering. Interview with Arnaud Delbard, Managing Director of Pépinieres & Roseraies Georges Delbard, based in Malicorne in Allier, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year.
Your nursery creates new varieties of roses each year. We are talking about hybridization. What is the objective of this work?
Hybridization is the crossing of two different varieties (the father rose and the mother rose) in order to create a new one. Our objective is to improve the existing varieties, that they are more resistant to diseases and more aesthetic… And then there are the trends in colors. Red is a little less fashionable for example. We try to follow consumer expectations. In particular to facilitate the culture, that there is less care and treatments to bring to the plants. And on the other hand increase the pleasure of the gardener with roses more and more fragrant and which give more flowers.
How do you choose the "father" roses and the "mother" roses that you will cross?
Very simply we will select from a panel of breeders, a very resistant variety with a fragrant variety to obtain a rose that will have the two dominant characteristics of its father and mother. They are chosen for their interesting characters and their complementarity in order to bring them together in one. In a more complex way, characters can be revealed during the crossing, the potential of the father and the mother being expressed. And in this case, we sometimes have good surprises! Conversely, the expected effect is not always there and we must proceed to other marriages.
What are the stages of hybridization?
The process consists in placing the pollen of the "father" rose with the brush on the pistil of the "mother" rose. An operation carried out ideally between April 15 and June 15 at the time of the first flowering. Throughout the summer the fruit (rose hips) ripens on the mother rose. From September to mid-November, it is harvested and gently opened to collect the seeds. These are sown in a tunnel in December while awaiting germination the following spring. Out of 120,000 seeds planted only 50% will be germinated, each plant being different from the others. As soon as the first flower appears, a first selection can be made.
On what criteria do you select them?
We observe them every day with a first aesthetic criterion. Is the flower beautiful? This is of course subjective, so several different people are involved. Those that are not selected are not eliminated entirely. We keep them for 3 flowering periods before making a final decision. The lucky ones are then planted in a real situation, put to the test of rain, drought, fungi and insects ... During 4 years the fields of selection are thus observed. The following summer, the roses selected are multiplied from the twigs by grafting. The behavior of the individuals thus created being monitored for 5 or 6 years. We check its level of resistance to external aggressions, its fragrance, its color, its shape ... It therefore takes 7 years between hybridization and the marketing of a new rose!
How many varieties are created each year?
We launch 3 to 5 new varieties every year. The selection is drastic and you have to be very patient! It is sometimes very difficult to get what we want, but we also have very good surprises by discovering, for example, through the crossing of unexpected tones. With hybridization, the combinations are endless. We are never short of discoveries.
Each new variety has a name. How do you choose these names?
In general, it tells a story or is inspired by an event, a meeting. The name is often borrowed from a personality, a place ... Our last rose was baptized "Amnesty International" following the visit of its president. The variety was yellow, the same tone as the logo. It made sense. Another, pink in color is called "Pompadour", generous and bewitching ... The rose is a source of inspiration, a vehicle for emotion and dreams. This is what we are trying to share.
Learn more: Website: www.georgesdelbard.com Blog: //carnets.georgesdelbard.com/