|Dr. Jim Sproul's first big success, Eyeconic ™ Lemonade|
There is no hard and fast rule as to when the hybridizing bug first bites its victims.
Eight-year-old schoolboy David Austin wished to create a new flower like the world had never seen.
Twenty-something Bill Radler hoped to breed a rose that didn’t require constant pampering. His Knock Out filled the bill.
Ben Williams never gave the subject a thought until a chance encounter with a German hybridizer after World War II sparked a passion that burned until he passed away in 2006. He went on to help invent the miniflora rose -- a category of “in between” bushes that were too big to be miniatures and too small for full-size roses.
Dr. Jim Sproul enjoyed breeding guppies in his early teens, then as an adult, his hybridizing interests turned to roses. Over the past fifteen years he has been working to create a line of roses bred with Hulthemias, plants considered more of a weed than an ornamental in the desert regions of Iran and Afghanistan.
|The humble Hulthemia has inspired a new line of roses.|
Although Hulthemias (rosa persica) are described as ugly bushes with thorny, rambling branches, the flowers have a distinctive red blotch in the center that has fascinated hybridizers for decades.
They are not true roses, but breeders hoped they could cross the once-blooming desert plant with the modern Queen of Flowers to produce new varieties with the fascinating blotch.
The pioneering efforts of breeders around the world including Peter James, Chris Warner, Jack Harkness and Ralph Moore paved the way for Jim Sproul’s breakthrough work.
The Eyeconic™ line of roses are Sproul’s reward after fifteen years of trial and error, success and failure, and many hundreds of crosses.
|Eyeconic Pink Lemonade|
His first big introduction was Eyeconic Lemonade, a shrub with sunny yellow, gently ruffled blooms and a magenta red blotch at the base. Lemonade is a heavy bloomer with slightly scented, non-fading flowers.
Pink Lemonade soon followed – a pretty light pink with a frilly bloom and of course, the blotch. Both varieties grow to about 3’ and boast dark green glossy foliage.
This year brings two new members of the family to catalogues and nurseries.
Landscape shrub Eyeconic Melon Lemonade is orange to apricot in color, with a red ring around the inside of the petals.
|Eyeconic Melon Lemonade (Courtesy Star Roses)|
Eyeconic Pomegranate Lemonade is a miniature -- a deep pink and white blend with a dark magenta eye. It features exceptionally large non-fading flowers on a bush growing only to about 12”. Pomegranate also has the best blotch of the bunch thus far.
|Eyeconic Pomegranate Lemonade is classed as a mini (Courtesy Star Roses)|
|Eyeconic Lychee Lemonade (Courtesy Star Roses)|
A new addition to the color palette will make its debut in 2014. Semi-double Eyeconic® Lychee Lemonade is a pleasing ivory cream with a deep burgundy blotch. The plant is vigorous yet compact, making it a good choice for containers and small gardens.
All of these roses are fuss-free, self-cleaning and well suited for the Western U.S and Canada.
However in the East and South, the current Eyeconic series may require spraying because they are reportedly susceptible to black spot.
I don’t know if the black spot warning is for real or just cautionary.
In any event I’ll be keeping my eye on them all.