"Premediated" Hybridizing - Part 1
Posted on the Robin by Mick Morry (Dec 08-08)
Re-printed with permission
Let me first apologize -- before you even get past this first sentence -- for the length of this post. I am getting very good at speed typing I am finding that my fingers are starting to catch up with my stream of consciousness... not quite, but trying hard... Thank heavens for good old Catholic school and typing classes.
Once again I read through my buddy Bill Maryott's post and have to agree yet again. Great points Bill and ditto to you Pat--we too are only different in point 3 up here at our place. My mother and I breed together, wander the garden together, plot together and we are prepared to entertain visitors while we hybridize in the early mornings -- up to the point where we will direct them on to photographic possibilities so we can continue with our own plans.
I know Pat and Bill and so many other hybridizers have made a number of points on a number of factors of interest for new hybridizers who are asking all sorts of relevant questions that never seem to stop being asked, so I will do it this round and approach the questions from my view, as usual.
Today I will address how we make our hybridizing choices each day, and knit this together with some other relevant stuff (maybe some less relevant to some of you!) that I think is intertwined. But I do figure that 90% of this is how most of the earnest hybridizers, ourselves included do it, and I say this after years of getting my act down as tight as possible with book work, photos of cultivars and everything else needed to document progress, seedlings, and hybridizations. It's time consuming work, but you better get into it if your at all serious about creating a line that is unique and focused and that could well be sought after by others. So here it goes.
Our decision making (our = myself and my mom, Ms. Lanny) and selection of parents on any given day is a very specific thing. Like Bill and Pat we too are looking for those 4 or 5 parents on a given day that are the winners of our mini beauty pageant we put our selections through. Towards the end of this email I will mention our picks and how we use them, but first more on how we get to that important decision-making point of selecting minimal parents on a day. These selected parents are then used that day, and through the season until we feel we have nailed their colour usage and robbed or melded the traits we desire from them. We are not just picking for the day, but for a flower that may be used all season if it is a direction we have identified that we are breeding for. These are plants that are unique for any number of reasons and that really catch our attention and never lose the awesome looks and plant habit, or the ones that show us more by producing a great seedling crop and devilishly promising seedlings down the line and that end up being bred year after year for years, if not as Dad, as Mom. This is the case with us at our place-- if a plant is a legend in our minds.
My mother is the first to wake up. She is a morning person and by 4:30 on a summer day, as the sun cracks the horizon she is up and on her feet. By 5:30 AM the dogs -- and we have many -- have been outside, exercised, watered and fed. That complete she immediately puts on her hybridizing face on and does a thorough tour of the garden. She misses nothing. By the time she wakes me up at some unholy hour like 7 a.m. and shoved a strong coffee into my hand to induce politeness and receptivity to being wakened way too early she has identified the top 5 or 10 cultivars in the garden on any given day. She and I then patrol the garden a second time together, or me by myself if she is pre-occupied for a few minutes. However we almost always do that second walk together. My mom will say something like let's see what you see as the best today. What do we find out from this? We have found my mother and I pick the same top 3-5 contenders pretty much every time. Our top 10 list on any day will only differ on 1 or maybe 2 cultivars. Interestingly though the plants both she and I consider the best of the day are both of our top picks every day, every year. We never fail to pick those most important cultivars on a day. They immediately become the top two agreed cultivars to use out of our typical five or six on any day that meet the cut to be considered for paternal roles in the daylily patch. There is no fighting over this first bunch of cultivars selected. This makes for a fun time and it only gets better then.
What is neater with our selection though is that my mom and I get colour cravings. It's a deep nearly emotional hunger--similar to wanting a chocolate bar fix like craving. We will usually find there are days like this one I remember well and will mention as the example. One day my mom woke me up somewhere around mid-July of this year. She said to me in order to get me up quick, that I had come see what was in the garden blooming. This time she didn't wait till my feet were on the ground to give me the coffee, she had it in her hand and shoved it into mine as I sat up in bed. I knew this was going to be important because there is this passion in her eyes when she insists I have to move NOW!
"Today is a very black looking garden today", I remember her saying in a deep tone with big wide eyes. This got my immediate attention.
"Pardon me", I think I said , as I am not a morning person and my mind would further try to absorb and decipher what she just said.
She repeated to me "The garden is completely filled with black eyes to breed our new black seedlings to". This got me up immediately. Black eyes, and new black seedlings. I was out in my pollinating garb with the record books with all the details on our seedlings and other tools and hybridizing books, and raced up to the blacks she had pinpointed with my camera in hand. We did have a ton of new blacks and what was better was we that we had been prescient and had bought just what we felt they needed to meet to be all they could be in future generations. So the decision making began. What to use? The walk starts and this is more or less the rest of what it takes to focus, line breed and not deviate on a given day from what you set out to do. First though you must walk the garden.
We walked the garden together completely--overlooking nothing and sometimes we feel we need to do another quicker tour immediately after just to make sure. We then can go over the top 5 flowers back and forth a couple of quick times more done in a minute or two, just to make sure we are totally convinced on what needs to be done for the day. Never do we idly dab this to that or pretty to pretty, because none of that cuts it with us.
We discuss every good flower or quality we pass by and compare notes back and forth. Sometimes we write down points about a flower to help argue our point if we feel that the other is overlooking something important or a direction one thinks we need to go in. A tape measurer also comes into play for measuring how large a green throat is too how large the flower or sepals are. These are traits that I am working hard on to improve size and width on and you don't go forward by taking casual unplanned steps backwards.
We do a very democratic vote with lots of discussion. It is very similar to the process my mother and I have to do at orchid shows when we are helping the judges select the best flowers in each division and selecting for awards or honorable mentions. She and I are always head clerks if they don't ask us to judge our AOS show that year. It really is a mini daylily show going on just as Pat and Bill mention ,and as any other devoted hybridizer must certainly do alone or with their hybridizing partner themselves.
This is one of the most important first steps one must do repeatedly when you line breed, and you need to do it fast. Flowers are at their optimum, even here in Canada where morning cool is slow to give way to daytime heat -- before 10 a.m. That means we have to make our choices AND hybridize by that time, so the total time for my tour and selection mixed in with my mothers input is 10 to 20 minutes max. It is a race to beat the heat and sometimes rain, as tagging in thundershowers is nuts. You must walk fast and only stop for the flowers that are show stoppers that literally stop you in your tracks. If you don't spend 10-15 seconds admiring that cultivar then move on it's not a daddy that day. You want the flowers that your breeding partner says "common let's move, stop looking at it and look at it later--Hybridize!". You will need to do things such as this even if you don't line breed to keep up quality control. However it is crucial that you micro-analyze pedigrees and great parents vs. weak parents or good vs. bad qualities in every cultivar you use.
Flaws must be kept at an absolute minimum. Flaws build and build and compound themselves into serious issues if you let the ball slide even ever so slightly--especially when riding the knife of breeding cutting edge traits in new territory. We learned this in dogs and we have carried the same philosophy over to our daylilies. Breed your best and forget the rest. Nearly every flower has flaws, however I have to go out on a limb and say some can be so nearly perfect that they might as well be perfect.
Beauty need not be perfect to be seen at it's best or purest form. What is out there now is close enough for me, be this in woman, animals or exotic flowers--including our beloved daylilies. Nothing is perfect. Nothing ever will be perfect. The nature of the universe and all the laws of the universe and of nature both natural and human made are designed out of imperfections. Imperfections are a form of uniqueness and always will be. Never be foolish enough to believe you have perfect crosses , are buying perfect crosses or will soon make them. You have already lost. I will say it again. This is written in stone. NOTHING HAS EVER BEEN OR EVER WILL BE PERFECT. Bank on it. If the shape of our planet was a totally true circular mass, we wouldn't keep in orbit with the other planets or the Sun. NO EARTH!! Perfect is left for the afterlife. Of that I am sure.
I truly believe that my mom and I have bought at least 100 or more very near perfect flowers though out of the 1,200-1,500 we bought over the years. We sell the ones that don't work out obviously, but some will never leave as they are in my eye near perfect enough. There are always around 900-1,000 different tetraploid cultivars kept on the property. Each year some more get moved out and more new ones moved in. We only cull what is not working flawlessly for us. Anything near perfect is never totally sold out or removed from the programs here.
Great keepers seem to be more often than not tall, big, never blemish, hold up well in rain, breed in any climate, take heat, take cold and keep most of their ruffles intact in colder weather. If a cultivar fails this basic first set of criteria then it's strike 1,2, and 3 all at once. It's a gone from our garden situation as this is totally counter productive to our program aims and direction, so nothing will save them from removal off the property. We are trying to have a breeding arsenal of 800 or so near flawless flowers from every line and breeding origin to run deep with. You are looking for cultivars that are as spectacular and as near flawless as possible. Those diamond breeders have the capability of having nearly every seedling they breed worthy of selection. It then comes down to colour, form and other things that are a hybridizers personal preference.
Sure every cultivar has a flaw here and there. The secret is in knowing which flaws you must avoid and what can be overlooked and improved upon. The cultivar may have a minor point or not be perfect in every garden, but I am talking in our garden and in our program--just as you should when you refer to what is going on within your own program. You can only speak for yourself and your growing. We can't hold up a crystal ball and see how CITRIX is growing in Montana. We can only see or hear what is doing in front of our own eyes or take someone's word for it where the comparison may not be so realistic.
Here are some examples of plants that we grow here in our zone 4b/5 Canadian garden, with no real cover against the perils of winter winds or summer heat and humidity -- that despite this are so very nearly flawless in my garden. While in your garden they could fall apart, in ours they are solid gold -- reliable, solid and strong and plants that have acclimatized here and prosper and grow vigorously..
In NO order of importance here are OUR top 50 plants (of our top 100) based on how they have grown and prospered in our garden. Remember, this is not in order, these are just the top 50 in any order we could put them.
1. PORTOFINO-Smith/Grace--Simply the best formed tall never bad looking mid range pink. Breed away from pink with this one though as it dominates it's form and you will have too many look-alikes. The best use of this plant is with eyes, try violet and purples at it.
2.OKTOBERFEST-Maryott-- I have said it before this is a dream catcher. To date this is the best orange on the market. I am trying to find a flaw on this one, but can't in my garden. I am sure cultivars that are perfect in my garden may be less than stellar in yours, however what is important is in your climate, not the other guy's. You can only go so far in creating flowers that are flawless everywhere. That list is a very short list.
3. CRAZY IVAN-Smith-- What a spectacular flower in our garden. It never looks bad and has such an important eye.
4. WILD CHERRY ROUNDUP--Trimmer--Look at Bill Maryott's site and see what he has done with this powerhouse of breeding. Dan's use of it is showing it's versatility to breed flowers you go gaga over. It's a pick up and play flower that is painfully easy to use in hybridizing.
5. LINDA SIERRA-Peat--My favourite flower in my garden bar none. I can do so much with this plant. It's tall, dormant, waxy, weather resistant, and on and on. It never ever looks bad in our garden. Increases fast, a bonus in a northern garden.
To keep this short here is another 45 with fewer comments. I feel these flowers are super powers in hybridizing. These should not fail you if you seek them out.
6. BELLA SERA-Stamile-You need this plant in your purple line. It is always happy in my garden. Phil Reilly gave me this and he was right as usual.
7. PURE AND SIMPLE-Jeff Salter-Does this ever look bad? I don't think so. This is the best orange blended melon flower ever made.
8.CIRCUS PERFORMER-Ted Petit-Great near black, merlot coloured eye on a very bright clean pink. Tall floriferous as all my other picks are.
9.TEXAS BLUE EYES-Jack Carpenter-Still my favourite blue ever.
10.VOODOO MAGIC-Frank Smith--Frank was right this is an important breeder for eyes. I used it like mad this last season.
11. TRIPLE CHERRIES-Ted Petit-The best red edged and eyed over a clean white based pony .
12. LARRY'S OBSESSION-Ted Petit-The nicest near black with toothy white edge. An exceptional plant.
13. FORBIDDEN FANTASY-Jeff Salter--It just never looks bad here, ever.
14. FORESTLAKE RAGAMUFFIN-Fran Harding--Still probably the best tooth maker in the world all these years later. It's just being too inbred and over bred. Breed away a couple of generations for heavens sake. Breed to no teeth for one generation with something starkly different and interesting and then come back in to it again in a couple of generations. FL Ragamuffin is getting inbred and with that comes fertility problems and form issues. Do your program a favour and breed really intelligently with this one every time you use it. Research everyone else's teeth before you come back into it. Amazing how inbred this early 90s plant has already become. In dogs inbreeding is bad, it reduces vigour, quality, and inheritable qualities for the future. I think the same applies to the flower world. Teeth are a dominant trait it will keep coming back time and time again.
15. SPACECOAST WHITE CHOCOLATE-Kinnebrew-This is such a superb white. Tall, big, mostly white with very little of any other colour in it. Always in flower. A dream!!!!
16. SPACECOAST TECHNICAL KNOCKOUT-John Kinnebrew-One of John Kinnebrew's best near black
17. SPACECOAST DEVILS EYE-John Kinnebrew-The other great black out of their garden. SC. SHINER would be their 3rd. I am a big fan of John Kinnebrew Junior's new colour ranges he is taking mom and dad in.
18. ETHEL BUCCOLA-Dan Trimmer-This plant is always on. It has a copper meets gold edge that is a product of beta-carotene meeting the gold edge. Orange blended with gold dusting gives metallic orange and copper dusting and edges, which is fantastic for adding dramatic vividness to a cross.
19. ANA MARIE MARGETTS-John Peat--One of my most used purples. A fabulous parent.
20. INCENDIARY-Bill Maryott--Very clean pink base with a near black eye. Always in flower and always looks good.
21. GOLD KISSED-Bill Maryott-A very near waterproof flower. Very yellow and heavy substance.
22. CERULEAN WARBLER-Ludlow Lambertson- What a great pastel baby blue eye. It always has 3 flowers open with great form and perfect colour. A tad more height and it would beat out Texas Blue Eyes as my favourite. However it is solidly my second favourite blue that is true blue.
23. NOCTURNAL BUTTERFLY-Ted Petit- Once again tall just like I like them. They eye on this plant is always good and changes ever so slightly which brings nice pattern building capability.
24. CHATEAU DE VILLE-Ted Petit--Always has great substance form and looks marvelous. A very heavy substance going on in this flower.
25. HOW BEAUTIFUL HEAVEN MUST BE-Jack Carpenter-Superb. A powerhouse for ruffles. Ask my Mom how much she loves this plant! My Mom is officially the queen of HBHMB because she has three registrations from it as well as a scary number of seedling futures!
26. BRIGHT AFTERGLOW-One of the tallest most happy yellows with pink blushing out there. This is my favourite yellow in the entire world (except for a couple of plants I have produced in the last couple of years )I think. You can do so much with it.
27. NORMAN LEE HENELL-Ford- A great deep purple dormant tet. It is not a dip like the database says.
29. J.T. DAVIS-Larry Grace- This is such an important white for getting green edges and monster ruffles.
30. ROCK SOLID-Pat Stamile- One of Pat's wonder weapons. Have you seen his creative use of it lately?
31. COURTING TROUBLE-Kirchhoff- One of my favourite's year after year.
32. SCARLET LACE-Kirchhoff- Another of David's incredible line. What a round audacious flower.
33. MORNING IN MADRID-Reilly- It never ever looks bad, ever!!!!
34. SIMPLY SCRUMPTIOUS-Phil Reilly-Ditto!!!! Phil keeps breeding flawless form. He has the form game really sealed up.
35. ROWDY RED-Stamile- I love this red eyed flower.
36. COMPLEMENTARY COLOURS-Stamile-A tall shocking red.
37. THE BAND PLAYED ON-Stamile- It never ever looks bad and always has 3-5 flowers in bloom. Very floriferous and always has clean colour and form.
38. SPECIAL CANDY-Stamile-Special is right. This is one of the blackest eyed flowers out there.
39. ELEGANT CANDY-Stamile-Pat's best old candy. Breed away from pink though as special candy stamps it's type and colour heavily and you need to be creative to out-think it.
40. BROADWAY NIGHTS-Grace Stamile- A great smaller near black with a true black eye. Rob it's colour and throw full formed big flowers at it. You will get some ponies, some more small and many will over-ride the small genes and go large. My mom flowered a kid out of my SUN MOON STARS cut to BROADWAY NIGHTS that touches 8 inches thanks to my SMS genes.
41. BROADWAY GAL-Grace Stamile-My favourite old pony that is tall, floriferous and can adopt any colour so easily. It is a great clean palette to build colour on. Surprising ruffles can come out of this one and angel wings with modern looks.
42. SOLAR MUSIC-Oscie Whatley- Tall neon yellow and so wonderfully fertile. Very waxy and weather resistant.
43. BUTTERCREAM-Oscie Whatley- An 8-9 inch dormant with wide sepals and wide petals and a gorgeous yellow base and green throat.
44. CARDINAL EXPLOSION- Brian Culver-This electric cultivar is always in bloom and has a long bloom cycle and has all the traits I demand such as height, branching, and high bud count. I only use plants with traits like this now. Any week breeders are removed long ago from the hybridizing program and replaced with cultivars such as this one. I may actually do one of my coloured pencil works on this plant in the future. I love it.
45. CASA DE JUAN-Peat-- Just as most of his line I go wild about, this is yet another tall, big, never look bad flower. It was my favourite red eyed edged cream base this year to use.
44. BOTOX-Linda Agin--Ruffles, ruffles and more ruffles. Did I mention this one has ruffles? Wow what a fab flower. You need it white breeders.
45. ASIAN FAIRY BLUEBIRD-Luddy--It is so blue and never sulks in my garden. We had a ton of other blue breeders contacting us on this one, that also bought it and were showing it off. We all seemed to have bought and used this one like mad. BLUE HIPPO is great, but ASIAN is better in my garden.
46. PICOTEE RIPPLED RUFFLES-Jack Carpenter. Tall, flawless. It never looks bad. The base is clean cream off white and the edge and eye is solid near electric mid range purple.
47. MR. BUTTERS- Judy Davvison- Like all of her tall showy Uf's this grabs attention. It increases like mad. Give it a lot of space or you are done -- moving the mobile home size clump it will become! I have rarely seen a plant increase so fast as this one. Judy does this, perchance, have bamboo or weed seeds behind it??? Love it!
48. TWIST OF LEMON-Brooks- My favourite Uf of all time. If you take into account it is behind my Area-51 and MAPLE LEAF FOREVER then it means I have more TOL kids than I believe anyone. I ran deep as one can go with this flower, and use it still. Always relevant if you use it with updated modern plants.
49. ALWAYS AFTERNOON-Mort Morss- It deserved the Stout. That is the best thing I can say about this important plant. Cut pinks at it and get blues gang. It is still in use here.
50. YELLOW DYNAMO-James Gossard- Jamie's incredible neon yellow with toothy tendrils and hooks and knobs. Spectacular and always in bloom an absolute must yellow breeders.
I will email my second half that seemed to have prevented the email from going through a little later around midnight. Just think of it as one post though, as I had to pick a section and break it up and hope for the best.