Rose Information

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George Mander - Who I Am

In 1956, at age 25, I immigrated to Canada from Germany. I quit a very good job rebuilding car and motorcycle engines. I was single, still living with my parents and I wanted to be on my own and get away from the constant garden work. What I hated most was the weeding in my parents’ two gardens. (Now I have to do it in my own rose beds, and I still hate it!) My parents had a few roses, but at the time I had no interest in roses.

In winter 1958/59, on my first trip back home, I met my wife-to-be at a carnival ball in Frankfurt. A year later I went back again to get married. My wife Ingrid came to Canada in the summer of 1960. We had an older house in Vancouver, BC with a very small garden, and only four roses, including a CL. ‘Sutter’s Gold’ which is still alive 40 years later. I had no idea how to grow roses. In 1966 we moved from Vancouver to Coquitlam, BC where we live now.

Our son was born in 1965. Soon after, in 1969, I began hybridizing roses. When he was just about 7 years old he began to help me with the rose hybridizing and even did some successful budding. Later, he became interested in computers, photography, and digital imaging. Now he’s a digital imaging specialist and maintains his own web site, mine, and the site of the company he is working for. You can find hundreds of his photos through the “Sublime Photography” link on my web site.

Our Coquitlam home had a six foot tall rose bush in the back yard. I had no knowledge of rose cultivation and pruned it down to about 30”. All I got the next year was long shoots again and not a single bloom. My neighbour had 30 to 40 roses in his backyard, and told me to cut only a few inches off the tips since it would probably bloom on second-year wood. In the summer of 1968 I finally got my first blooms. It was a cabbage rose, 'ROSA CENTIFOLIA MAJOR'. I did not like the quartered, 100-petalled blooms and wanted to throw it out, but the neighbour advised me to bud different varieties of roses onto the main stems. I had grafted apple and cherry trees in my parents’ garden, but budding roses was new to me.

In late 1968 I bought my first rose book in order to learn how to bud roses. As in most rose books, right next to the chapter on budding there was: "How to create your new rose varieties by crossbreeding." I found this interesting and exciting! Right then I decided to start hybridizing roses in 1969. To learn more about the subject I went to libraries to find more rose books. I photocopied every article I could find about hybridizing or crossbreeding of roses. In the spring of 1969 I joined the Vancouver R. S. At the first meeting I asked, "Are there any hybridizers in the Society?" No, I was told. Everybody thought I was crazy for wanting to start at the top (as they called it), that I should first learn to grow roses. However, as I had set my mind to hybridize roses, I started from the TOP DOWN in 1969 and learned about the cultivation of roses later on.

About half a dozen rose books I bought in the following years, the first, Das Rosenbuch (in German), 1966, was by the world’s foremost hybridizer, Wilhelm Kordes II. It has given me the best information by far and I have followed Mr. Kordes' advice every step of the way. On a visit to Germany in 1971, my 3rd year into hybridizing, I made sure to arrange a visit with this world-famous hybridizer. Different rose publications referred to Mr. Kordes as “the world’s foremost rose hybridizer”, so this was my chance to meet this great man of roses. Mr. Kordes was already 80 years old then. We talked for more than 2 hours as my main interest was in parent selection. I was especially interested in the seed parent of the world famous Fl. ‘Iceberg’, the HMsk ‘Robin Hood’. He had very much encouraged me to try my luck with it and possibly use different pollen parents on Robin Hood. Years after our discussion, ‘Shades of Pink’, my first floribunda, was the first result.

From 1961 to my early retirement in 1992 at age 61, I worked at a pump company, building pumps for refineries, pulp mills, oil pipe lines, and nuclear power plants all over the world. I retired to have more time for hybridizing. During my working years I was lucky to make 100 to 300 crosses annually. After retirement I had ALL the time I wanted and managed 1,000-2,000 crosses a season, raising a record 4800 seedlings in 1995. And in 2005, as most of you know already, I registered my BEST Mini/Flora ‘Ingrid’ after my wife.

[First published in the Newsletter of the Rose Hybridizers Association, Spring 2006 under the heading : “Who we are”]

George Mander
August 2006