appropriate roses

There has been a lot of talk about disease free roses. I don

Ive found roses to be highly symbolic and highly cultural which is probably partial to the reasons of willingness to aid in growing such a picky plant genus.

As the years have gone by I’ve come to agree more and more with you Mark. I have recently been E-mailing about roses with the gardener at a key estate here in the Twin Cities who has been asking me for rose advice. I’m really surprised at the strong aversion she has towards shrub roses. She primarily wants hybrid tea and Grandiflora roses. She feels like it’ll be a risk to try an English rose this spring. When I first started growing and breeding roses I didn’t really appreciate the shrubs and species, but with time I have. My rose breeding mentor, Elton Strack, had many species and species hybrids and as my hybrid teas and such died off no matter how much I would protect them over winter sometimes I began to appreciate the value and more subtle beauty of them as a whole plant as well as the individual flowers.



The predominance of Floribundas and Hybrid Teas in Canadian public rose gardens is due to several factors. But I certainly agree with you that this situation is largely the result of the British influence. For example, in eastern Canada rose growers in the early 1900’s right up to the 1950’s imported a lot of their roses from England. Even when H.M. Eddie at Vancouver in the 1950’s had the largest rose nursery in Canada, his listing was predominately Floribundas and Hybrid teas. His breeding program also emphasized Floribundas and Hybrid Teas. Where did Henry Eddie immigrate from to Canada? Surprise! Scotland.

Then there is the influence of the Canadian Rose Society and the emphasis on growing roses (Floribundas and Hybrid Teas) for show purposes. Of course, the early membership in the 1920’s and for several decades later was dominated by Toronto Rosedale (upscale residential area) matrons having a British background. To this day, the Canadian Rose Society is run by a Toronto clique and the emphasis is still on growing Floribundas and Hybrid teas for rose shows.

The British influence goes beyond rose gardens. Some of the largest Canadian botanical gardens have been managed by British people or Canadians with a British background, and of course their ideas extend to the rose garden. For many years the Hamilton, Ontario Royal Botanical Gardens was managed by a person who immigrated from England. It is still managed the way he did with the emphasis on Floribundas and Hybrid Teas.

One can’t ignore the American influence. U.S. rose companies have agressively marketed their roses to Canada for decades. Of course, most of these roses were Floribundas and Hybrid Teas. The American women’s and gardening magazines sold in Canada for decades have had, of course, advertisements from American rose companies and nurseries selling Floribundas and Hybrid Teas. Thus, along with other influences, the gardener thinks these are the only types of roses to grow in his/her garden. Naturally, the gardener or rosarian expects to see them predominate in public rose gardens.

The climate limitations of the northern U.S. and Canadian Great Plains forced plant breeders to develop roses suitable for growing in this region. However, for the relatively warm Canadian regions of southern Ontario and Quebec, and the West Coast, Floribundas and Hybrid Teas grew relatively well. Therefore, there was no need to develop roses for these climates. It was too easy to grow roses that were already on the market. So with the exception of Isabella Preston’s breeding program at the Ottawa Central Experimental Farm that emphasized developing roses for cold climates like the Prairies and the failed University of Guelph one in the 1980’s, no unique and tough roses have ever been developed in southern Ontario.

I don’t have to tell you, Mark, that just because it is a Canadian rose it will out perform a Floribunda or Hybrid Tea developed in the U.S. or England. If the Parkland roses are grown in southern Ontario, they need just as much spraying as any other modern rose does. But I certainly agree with you that much less Floribundas and Hybrid Teas should be grown in Canadian (and U.S.) rose gardens. It’s up to knowledgeable rosarians to educate the managers of these rose gardens that there are alternatives. I’m doing my part with the Edmonton Devonian Botanic Gardens rose garden, which I am heavily involved managing it as a volunteer.

I certainly agree with you on the importance of developing tough roses. I’ve always said that developing one good Rugosa or Gallica is better than developing ten good Floribundas or Hybrid Teas. Floribundas and Hybrid Teas come and go like the latest clothing fashion, but a good Rugosa or Gallica lasts forever.



Well put.

I tend to feel it is all an issue of the marketing and promotion of roses. The name alone of an “All-American” rose selection really gets my ire up. I for one don’t live in “All America”, and the needs here in the deep gulf coast are very different from those in the northwest, or the southwest, or middle America…

There are roses which are essentially disease-free IN THEIR APPROPRIATE CLIMATE, but when a Californian calls a rose disease-free, I take it with a huge grain of salt assuming their assessment won’t apply here. Rosa banksia is about the only disease-free rose here, and it can mildew on the NW coast, and will freeze inland from there.

I’ve heard rose-hybridizers of yester-year essentially shrug off issues of disease-resistance with comments to the effect that such is the realm of chemical companies today. (OK, in my zone 9 garden, I’ve never addressed the topic of winter protection. Winter is when our roses start looking good again.) The bias has been towards long stems and high-centered blooms. That’s what a rose is supposed to look like. (Nevermind the fact that the bush looks like a wicked-thorny clump of stems having a bad-hair day.)

What I would like to see would be a series of regional rose-selection organizations with the power to promote roses which are easy and landscape-appropriate to their area. The market here is driven by the big firms, not the reality in individual gardens.

My impression is that the Europeans are a little more advanced in that regard. Of course, each country has its own rose trials, so a landmass smaller than America has nearly ten fold the trials.

Check out the rose trial winners at the World Rose Federation site. Many of these wouldn’t make it to AARS. Most may never see commerce in the US.



That many excellent roses do not cross the pound reflects marketing is not at all quality driven.

You say “the Europeans are a little more advanced in that regard”. As for you market is driven by the big firms. Only difference these actually are driving a single european market. Kordess or Tantau rose are everywhere in Germany; in France it is Meilland. English nurseries rule England. Even actually with European Community and same Euro currency marketing is essentialy single country centered.

Trials have small influence and get little publicity. With german notable exception these trials do not reflect each country climate diversity. Here France we have climates from similar (not identical) to southern California or Florida with the Riviera up to the mountain ones some as hard as Canada.

Ten years ago I thought this situation should change with the web…It is only a little beginning.

This said you are taking extreme cases. Southern and northern adaptation limits of modern rose…

that were never bred for strength, desease resistance nor for ample climatic adaptation.

A lot of species have a much wider range than actual HTs that are often incapable of performing without grafting and spraying.

I.e.: as well as old Max Graff Lens’s Pink and White Surprise species hybrids if not so refined plants do pretty well at performing over a very wide area.

Back to reality: who even here does know they do so well?

Pierre Rutten

The AARS award is not always best for all climates. St. Patrick is a prime example of this. It is a horrid plant with super nice flowers here.

btw I do believe that not all roses are “firm driven” locally or nationally. Elina is a prime example of a rose that does well in terms of sales and garden health in many, mnay places. Sometimes a rose is just so good that it makes a splash…

Pierre, I’ll acknowledge that each county in Europe is a little biased towards its native breeders, but the big-name breeders are well represented in multiple countries. It’s not surprising that the East Europeans represent more of their own, just as the Mediteranean countries represent mostly Med. country breeders. But there is a good deal of cross representation (Meilland’s “Astronomia” and Kordes’ “Escimo”, for instance took numerous awards in multiple countries) and the mere number of trials, I would have thought, would benefit the public. I’m a little disappointed to hear that the trials bear so little weight in marketing. “Winner of 5 awards” for instance, would seem a great plug.

And interestingly, if the norm holds, neither Meilland’s “Astronomia” nor Kordes’ “Escimo” will ever make it to this side of the pond. Of course, neither fits our cookie-cutter image of the classic rose.

I do recognize that – unlike in the USA – in Europe, a two-hour drive often puts one in an entirely different geography and climate, but with so many trials, I would think your climates are pretty well represented. France has 5 trials listed by the world rose federation. Consider another 2 in Spain, and one in Geneva, those in Italy, Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands, and surely France’s climates are fairly well represented. Also, any national biases or other statistical anomalies become a little more transparent given the number of trials.

We have nothing comparable here in the USA. Politics plays a role in the AARS selections, and they have a fair amount of weight in marketing, in my opinion. And yes, Jadae, that was precisely my point. AARS is not “All-American” (I confess, I’m not that familiar with Elina. I hadn’t heard too many rave reviews through the grapevine, but I may have offered up deaf ears.)

I’ll get off my soapbox now…


Havent heard of it? Elina is a Dickson’s rose from the UK thats wins at shows, grows really well any many gardens and is cuttable. In other words, it is a triple threat. Plus it is easy to find from many various sources. Im amazed that you have not heard of it :slight_smile:

German roses often do very well in Canada because, it is my understanding that, German growers can no longer spray the field grown plants with fungicides. Kordes and other large suppliers must grow roses that have natural disease resistance.

The AARS trial beds are all sprayed on a regular basis. None of the plants can be jugded for natural disease resistance.

My earlier point was that public gardens should promote safer, easier plant material. They should be a ‘show case’ for the best of their own country and roses from around the world that have those same qualities (perfect health and vigor).

If these publicly funded organizations fail to do this, I FEEL THEIR FUNDING SHOULD BE CUT. I hope by saying this, it becomes a wake up call for people who have influence over how public gardens are run. I know this sounds harsh but why should my tax dollars continue to fund misguided people making foolish decisions? Why should I care if the Royal Botanic Gardens in Hamilton Ontario goes bankrupt and out of business? What are they doing for me?

Let’s face it, If I take a trip to another country and visit a public rose garden, I don’t want to see ‘Peace’ or ‘Tropicana’ again and again. I want that rose garden to be a reflection of the people who live there, their culture and history. I want people who visit my home, to see my roses and the great work we have done here.


Jadae, I said I wasn’t that familiar with it, not that I hadn’t heard of it at all. But my first cursory impression was that it was not a very prolific bloomer, nor resilient plant in hotter more humid climates such as mine. It may be worth another look.

I confess that it takes a lot to make me look twice at a rose of the exhibition genre. I have, admittedly, come to have stereotypes against such. I may have unfairly dismissed her right off.


German rose fields are spraied. Only the nastiest stuffs (no fungicides) were forbidden and newer ones have to demonstrate an obvious environmental advantage.

Public use of chemicals (herbicides and miticides more than fungicides) is strongly reduced all over Europe. This will continue as an ample share of the german and european public is more and more favorable to banning all chemical use in gardens.

For four generations the Kordess have been breeding more frost and desease resistant roses. Longer and steadier than any other they strived at adapting to unclement temperatures rose from every class.

However beside resistant ones they still release highly succeptible HTs that get awards in public trials. Even the german ones. Unlike most they give factual infos about said succeptibility.

As for desease resistance… many german bred rose are quite performing in a much warmer climate…

Even if a lot shorter there is (not every year) a hot season up north.

Here french Riviera we have every set of desease inducing weather with very wet episodes either hot or cold. A natural test!


Actually if foreing rose are more or less available all over Europe, in England, Germany or France market shares are not less than 80% for national breeders.

Awards are published only in the breeder’s nursery catalog along with panegyrical descriptions with little objective facts. Foreing awards remain completely ignored by the public.

If there is an All Germany Award, we have no All Europa Rose Award. You may think we are lucky.

We do regret getting much less publicity.

And who knows about Astronomia or Escimo? I do not as none is markeyed here up to now. But were Flower Carpet or Knock Out fitting your “cookie-cutter image of the classic rose”?

This is a thing for ignorants …and exhibitionnists!:wink:

Pierre Rutten

Philip, Elina as an own-root at Heirlooms is absolutely huge, proliferous and healthy. It is one amazing HT.

Well Mark, if you ever have an opportunity to visit the Edmonton Devonian Botanic Gardens, you will see many roses that are " a reflection of the people who live there, their culture and history." Regarding the volunteer work I do there, I’ve made it a point to feature as many rose cultivars developed on the northern Great Plains as possible. And somtimes I’ve gone to extraordinary lengths to obtain rare or newly developed cultivars that are not and never will be available in Canadian garden centres or mail order nurseries. We also grow as many cold hardy (Zone 3) species as possible, because they have a spectacular display of flowers in early spring and are a germplasm source for future amateur rose breeding programs on the Canadian Prairies.

No spraying of the DBG roses is done and if any cultivars don’t perform well they are dispatched to rose heaven. That includes ‘Morden Sunrise’(susceptible to blackspot), although we may give it a shot again with new plants next spring.

One thing we lack in the DBG rose garden is signs for interpretation of the development of cold hardy cultivars for the Prairies. Most people, when they look at the cultivars, don’t have a clue where they came from and how they were developed. Hopefully, we will get this is place within a year or two.


While Canada is one of the few countries where roses are grown a lot that don’t have rose trials, I agree with you that they have very little influence in the marketing and buying of roses. In Canada, Agriculture Canada’s rose breeding programs have their own “trials” (testing for several years) and the results aren’t known to the public until a cultivar is introduced. When a cultivar is introduced, gardeners are confident that it is a good quality rose and are happy to purchase it.


Mark, I just started hybridizing and only have 20 babies so far. I appreciated thinking about roses that will last, I have not yet established a breeding goal! I grow all kinds of roses including HT’s , since I also like to exhibit , but I am pretty much spray-free. I can tolerate the small amount of blackspot etc. that I have. P.S. When I visit France I certainly hope to see ‘Peace’ there!

Perhaps those of us attempting to breed roses for the north will develop something in form akin the hybrid tea or even a Tea or China. The bloom form is where the appeal is and where the market is thanks mostly to the florist business. As you go North in the USA sales per capita spent on gardening drops dramatically. God only knows what it drops to once it reaches Canada. What company in their right mind would use their resources to take on the losing prospect of research and development of roses for the North when that money would be well spent where the return is its greatist ie zone 6 and up. And even zone 6 and up is changing as folks can only afford to move into conjoined townhouses with little or no garden space. We need to understand where we are in the development of hardy and disease free roses and work with what we have while we work toward the future PATIENTLY! There are no bad guys out there only the reality of the situation at hand.

I’m likely repeating myself, but as I see it the future of rose development for landscape purposes will be on small shrubs, ground covers and small Climbers. Tall Floribundas and Hybrid Teas are already obsolete. They are dinosaur plants that the large rose companies insist to the gardener or rosarian are still important for the landscape. In reality, they are nearing extinction.

For small shrubs, ground covers and small Climbers, the form of the flower is secondary. No one cares about form (unless one is into Hybrid Teas)if the flowers are fragrant. The characteristic of the flower that is most important after floriferousness and repeat bloom is fragrance. The difficulty of incorporating fragrance into small shrubs is that if the progeny of a cross is disease resistant (meaning that there is usually a healthy dose of Rosa wichuraiana in the parentage), then often the flowers lack fragrance. One of the answers to this problem could be developing more species hybrids with Rosa wichuraiana to combine flower fragrance and disease resistant shrubs. For example, crossing Rosa multiflora ‘Nana’ or Rosa nitida (both diploids) with Rosa wichuraiana (a diploid).

A rose without fragrant flowers is not an appropriate rose. One might as well wallpaper the house wall or fence with a design of roses if a rose is planted without fragrant flowers. Let’s not forget that in our breeding programs.

Hmmm, why is ‘fragrance’ an absolute requirement for an ‘appropriate’ rose? Seems like opinion to me. Many people want a ‘shrub’ they can plant that will produce flowers and is attractive in their landscape. Fragrance doesn’t enter into it. I agree that fragrance is wonderful, but I don’t feel its an absolute, and it seems associated with some potential negatives.

On some forums, people have noted that fragrance seems associated with lower disease resistance, and I know that fragrance can attract certain insects (Japanese beetles). None of these is necessarily an absolute, but is a possible consideration.

As to form, well David Austin has proved that other forms can be enjoyed besides the hybrid tea, but I personally have a dislike of single/lowcount petals. A rose flower can still have good looking petals, but once the center pistil/stamens go ‘dead’ the rose becomes a thing of ugliness. Higher petal count roses tend to mask the dead stamens longer.

I still believe that disease resistant roses with ‘good’ flower form (not necessarily rosarian competition form), can be bred. I don’t think that a 100 years of breeding should be thrown away, there’s been many color breakthroughs and some other advances. The best of these characteristics should be carried forward into new roses.

Chris Mauchline

Hey Paul, did you notice the first Climbing Miniflora this year? Talk about climber + small lol.