Correction to Roger Mitchell's article

I received the latest RHA Newsletter today. Since Spinosissima roses are a favourite of mine, I read Roger Mitchell’s article “Breeding with Rosa spinosissima and its Relatives” with great interest. However, I would like to correct an error in it. Regarding the ‘Hazeldean’ cultivar listed, I was a reference for saying its parentage “is most likely (R. altaica X ‘Persian Yellow’).” In fact, based on Percy Wright’s (breeder of ‘Hazeldean’) writings of his Spinosissima breeding work in the 1940’s and 50’s, he always mentioned using ‘Harison’s Yellow’ and never ‘Persian Yellow’ as a staminate parent. So I’ve always maintained the staminate parent of ‘Hazeldean’ is likely ‘Harison’s Yellow’. No apology necessary, Roger, since it is a minor thing. However, I would like to see this corrected when the next updated CD of RHA Newsletter articles is released. Maybe someone can tell me if this is possible.

In the article “Hazeldean Rose: A Rare Segregation” that I mentioned in this post

Percy wrote “My Hazeldean rose came from a cross of the Spinosissima sub-species Rosa Altaica, an exceptionally upright and vigorous form that hails from the Altai Mountains in Central Asia. The pollen parent was Persian Yellow, which most rosarians know of as the ancestor of the yellow hybrid teas, known as Pernetianas until recent years.”

Percy was notorious, of course, for his fluid memory but Roger does seem to have gotten it right. Percy’s promotion in that article of the use of Hazeldean to parallel Pernet-Ducher’s work but with the objective of creating a cold-hardy, disease resistant ‘race’ would seem to support this ancestry.


Please tell me where and when the article “Hazeldean Rose: A Rare Segregation” was published.

As far as his “fluid memory,” as far as I know he had a very good memory (he functioned at the near genius level most of his life) until he was into his 70’s and then it began declining. In the latter part of the 1970’s, I recall asking him about his ‘Kilwinning’ rose (a sister cultivar of ‘Hazeldean’). He had no memory of it. Yet at this time he wrote and had one or two articles published in the Devonian Botanic Garden publication “Kinnickinik” about his rose introductions. Needless to say, he got several of the parentages of his rose cultivars wrong. Including ‘Hazeldean’ (he gave the staminate parent as ‘Persian Yellow’), if one compares to the parentage he always gave it when he was at the height of his intellectual abilities in the 1940’s and 50’s.

Please tell me where and when the article “Hazeldean Rose: A Rare Segregation” was published.

I don’t know that it ever was published. I have photocopies of a manuscript. He explicitly states he requested and received Persian Yellow pollen (flower buds, actually) from Prof. C. F. Patterson in Saskatoon that he used to carry out the cross that yielded Kilwinning, Loch Lommand, Yellow Altai and Hazeldean.

Another observation he made in the article that is consistent with Persian Yellow as the pollen parent is that Yellow Altai has about the same color density as Harison’s Yellow. We know from Eugster’s article on color pigments that the saturation of yellows diminishes the further away you get from the species (foetida), so if Harison’s Yellow were the parent we would expect the offspring to be less saturated than Harison’s Yellow, not equal to it.


What I’m trying to get across to you is that it matters when he wrote in articles that ‘Persian Yellow’ was the staminate parent of ‘Hazeldean’. When did he write the article “Hazeldean Rose: A Rare Segregation”? Even if he wrote it, say in the 1950’s, he wrote several articles at this time indicating the staminate parent was ‘Harison’s Yellow’.

Example, his article “New Varieties For the Extreme North” in the 1949 American Rose Annual. “Hazeldean is another of the seedlings of R. spinosissima pollinated by Harison’s Yellow.”

In his circa 1949 catalogue, “Hardy and Semi-Hardy Roses”, he wrote: Hazeldean - same descent Altai x Harison’s Yellow and also 100% hardy."

I don’t know anything about Eugster’s work regarding the loss of the yellow colour of Rosa foetida when crossed with other species? It doesn’t matter what species is crossed with Rosa foetida? Did he actually work with Rosa spinosissima to determine his results?

I don’t know when he wrote it but I’ll see if we can guess from the context. His memory at the time was good enough that he relates in detail the sequence of events leading up to the cross so I have no doubt it was before his memory began fading. The contradictions you point out are exactly what I meant by his having a fluid menory.

Eugster’s paper is cited in my article on color in the Winter 2008 newsletter. Among 40 cultivars tested he found that Harison’s Yellow had only 2/3 as much carotenoids content as the parent foetida. All other hybrids had less than that. Table 4 in that paper is the basis for my assertion that genetic distance from foetida correlates with carotenoid content.

You and Roger may know better but Eugster says that, with the exception of Harison’s Yellow, no yellowish-flowering varieties of R. pimpinellifolia have hybrids with the old European garden roses but I don’t know about hybrids with more modern roses. His Table 4 does not list any but it does provide plenty of evidence for my assertion nonetheless.

Perhaps in the future genetic analysis will settle the matter irrefutably. In the mean time Roger stands on firm ground for the parentage of Hazeldean.

I have just finished reading Roger’s article on the spins, and his and Paul Barden’s articles on breeding with minis. Together with the retrospective on Paul Jerabek by his son Peter these make the Spring 2009 newsletter one of the best editions ever published. Kudos to these authors and to Peter Harris for putting it all together.

Paul, I personally do believe that

“The Inheritance of Color in Hardy Roses” by Percy Wright.

American Rose Annual 1960

“Later, I placed pollen from Harison’s Yellow on pistils of Rosa spinosissima altaica, the pure white rose from the Altai mountains of central Asia, and got from this cross I got many varieties. They ranged from pure white through various tints of pale yellow to the definite yellow of which two were eventually named Hazeldean and Yellow Altai. In these, the yellow is just a mite less deep than in Harison’s Yellow. These two roses probably represent the maxium for yellow that can be expected to descend from the stock of yellow genes in Harison’s Yellow to any progency.”

Let’s go back to the year after ‘Hazeldean’ was officially introduced and registered. Would his memory at this time been worse or better than in the 1970’s when he first said that ‘Persian Yellow’ was the staminate parent of ‘Hazeldean’? I rest my case.

“New Varieties for the Extreme North” by Percy Wright.

American Rose Annual 1949

“Ever since 1935 I have been placing upon the Altai rose, R.spinosissima altaica, pollen taken from the famous old yellow brier, Harison’s Yellow, and have produced many thousands of seeds. Their germination has been so poor, however, that I have got fewer than 100 plants in all from this cross.”

“Hazeldean is another of the seedlings of R. spinosissima altaica pollinated by Harison’s Yellow, but it did not bloom for the first time until June, 1948.”

Paul, thank you for providing the additional information. It certainly answers how he could have gotten such a strong yellow from


I wasn’t aware that Griffith Buck believed ‘Stanwell Perpetual’ was the Rosa spinosissima parent of ‘Suzanne’. I stated the same thing many years ago. I’m looking forward to your results confirming this or not.

Actually, I just remembered that

“I have always been puzzled by why so few hardy rose breeders have returned to ‘Suzanne’ as a parent.”

I agree, Roger. What has worked well in the past, having ‘Suzanne’ as the staminate parent (eg. ‘Red Dawn’ x ‘Suzanne’ that led to the Explorer Rosa kordesii cultivars), should be worth repeating again but using a different, high quality cultivar or breeding line. In an attempt to get yellow or bi-colours into Kordesii type of roses, last year I crossed ‘Gemini’ with ‘Suzanne’. Germination of the seeds is now just beginning. If one takes a look at the pedigree of ‘Red Dawn’, it is dominated by several red cultivars going back to ‘Gruss an Teplitz’. On the other hand with ‘Gemini’, not so much. I like that the yellow-orange ‘New Year’ is one of it parents. If I develop a ‘Gemini’ x ‘Suzanne’ breeding line, the next step would be to cross it with the Rosa kordesii L83 and take it from there.

‘Suzanne’ should be also useful to develop bicolour Spinosissimas.