"Mloko" crosses easily with "Tenui" either way, and their hybrids follow the rule: the first generation plants are almost wholly sterile, but with age, they do produce a few seeds. "Indeed I am being driven to the conclusion," wrote Professor Saunders in the early thirties, "that all peony hybrids eventually produce seeds, given a fairly large number of plants and sufficient lapse of time. Every year seed is produced in my garden by hybrid plants which have previously been entirely sterile."
So it is with the "Mloko"-"Tenui" hybrids: seeds were eventually set, and in the resultant second generation the natural fertility of the species is restored: they all set seed fairly abundantly. Oddly enough, the colors in the first generation, whichever way the cross is made, derive entirely from the "Tenui" side of the family: never a tea-rose nor an ivory, to say nothing of a yellow; but instead, shades of crimson, cerise, and pink of varying degrees of beauty. The early pink Playmate is the best of these. The F2, Nosegay, is earlier still, a brighter pink, with better foliage and taller stature: altogether a finer thing. The foliage of both is reminiscent of the fernlike "Tenui."
But the reverse cross, "Tenui" X "mloko," gave in the second generation not only the early tea-rose Gwenda, but then her own child Daystar [therefore an F3] which opens its ivory yellow flowers with the earliest peonies, about mid-May. These two have large broad glossy leaves, not like either parent. Nosegay, Gwenda, and Daystar are good seed- setters, and because of the blood in their veins, would probably repay further work.
The F2 Gwenda was crossed onto a double albiflora to produce three beautiful and quite distinct children: Roselette, a tall very early pink and a good grower; Rushlight, a pale ivory-yellow, taller than Daystar or Nova; and Sprite, a white with apple-blossom tints. Both Roselette and Rushlight have viable pollen and set seed.