Fixing Morden Sunrise

Hi all- just pondering next year’s crosses. Morden Sunrise is a complete fungal failure here- it defoliated early this year and stayed that way. But it is also beautiful, cold-hardy and fertile. What if I tried something like:

Morden Sunrise x Easy Going (EG is virtually bulletproof here)
and also
MS x Julia Child (JC is likewise)
then, select the seedlings purely for disease resistance.
(MSxEG)x(MS x JC), select for MS-like flowers, cold hardiness, disease resistance
a few cycles of OP reproduction, continuing to select for MS-like flowers, cold hardiness, disease resistance.

I note that the Ag Canada breeders ran their promising seedlings through a few generations of open pollination. I also note that Svejda said that cold hardiness could be recovered within a generation or two. It would be fun to try this out.

Anybody tried this? Is it worth a try?

I like the thinking behind this. It could be done in a lot of crossses

Try Bill Reid. That has blossoms reminiscent of Morden Sunrise. I haven’t evaluated disease resistance. Don H claims good hardiness.

For me here in Zone 3 Morden Sunrise seemed borderline hardy, which might have been influenced by its chronic defoliation.

I agree that it is/was a beautiful plant until the horrible spotting set in. I had a number of crosses with Prairie Joy that were quite lovely in blossoms, but all inherited the spotting. Personally I no longer have the patience for working with MS, but I would never discourage you.

Another positive characteristic that you might select for is the lovely tangerine-like fragrance of MS.

Hi- yes MS has that nice fragrance that I’d want to conserve too. Bill Reid has been no great improvement around here- it defoliates just as readily if not more so. Its other parent is an Austin- very few of those do well here.
Part of my interest is the challenge. There was a recent conversation here about whether modern roses still have what it takes to battle disease, latent in their genes, suppressed by generations of selecting for beauty rather than health. I believe they do.

I agree with Joe that ‘Morden Sunrise’ should be crossed with ‘Bill Reid’ to see what can be developed from it, but that’s for relatively dry climates (certainly not Vancouver!). I think it’s good to keep in mind that ‘Bill Reid’, despite its parentage appears to be cold hardier than ‘Morden Sunrise’.

I’ve always been inclined to cross ‘Schneezwerg’ with 'Morden Sunrise to develop a yellow Rugosa, but for increased disease resistance I think Rosa wichurana has to be incorporated into the breeding program. For example, developing a ‘Schneezwerg’ x Rosa wichurana selection to work with. Alternatively, developing a L83 x (for example) ‘Julia Child’ yellow selection and then crossing it with ‘Morden Sunrise’. Check with Brad Jalbert to see if he still has L83. I gave him a couple plants several years ago.

Paul- thanks very much for the tip about L83. I have been trying to track down a cutting- I would love to cross it with Julia Child, Easy Going, About Face and a few others that look like they might pass on yellows.



Let me know how you make out acquiring L83 from Brad. If it’s a problem, I can arrange to have hardwood cuttings of it sent to you this fall.

[send me a PM through the forum if you need cuttings]

R. virginiana has done some nice things for me in crosses, in terms of adding health and vigor. (not many of my seedlings have bloomed, because they die back to the ground) If I still had Morden Sunrise I would put some R. virginiana (or R. carolina) pollen on it.

You could cross virginiana/carolina F1’s with your Julia Child or Easy Going in hopes of recovering remontancy.

A note about virginiana vs carolina. I have all several exciting seedlings from R. virginiana pollen, but I’ve all but stopped using its pollen in favor of R. carolina because my row of five R. carolina has all the positive characteristics of R. virginiana without the rust and mildew that are now disfiguring my R. virginiana. It remains to be seen if the R. carolina pollen will show similar results, but I’m hoping so.

The yellow rose that has always been the healthiest for me is Carefree Sunshine and it’s also the hardiest of the Radler roses I’ve grown. High Voltage isn’t quite as healthy as CS but still is very healthy and has about the same hardiness as CS. HV isn’t as yellow as CS but has a nicer form and is more vigorous. CS and HV are hard to find now but if you’d like I should be able to collect some pollen next summer to send it to you. I don’t know how much I’d be able to collect because I moved this summer and I just transplanted both CS and HV to my new place two weeks ago. Here is a picture of a CS x (Hot Wonder x William Baffin) cross I made a few years ago. Two winters ago it got down to -25F and this only had tip damage where as CS died back to 6” of live wood. It may be possible to cross Morden Sunrise with a healthy non yellow and still get yellowish seedlings, so that’s an option also.

Hi Paul- that’s a beautiful colour. Yes I’d love some pollen if you can spare any next season. It would be interesting to throw those hybrids into the mix. Yes, crossing MS with a healthy non-yellow should produce a few yellow seedlings, I imagine. That’s one reason why I want to get a cutting of L83.
I actually didn’t do any crosses at all with MS this year- it looked so sickly I didn’t think it would produce hips. As it turned out there’s a handful of OP hips on it so I guess I’ll harvest those.

Interesting post Donald.

I’ve worked with Morden Sunrise extensively for many years…mainly to reach some of the goals that you’ve described above. May I say that its been a delight.
I started out by mining it’s ancestry…i.e. open pollination…and was impressed at the diversity of flowering traits…and to this day I believe that is where you could still get very good results. Lynn Collicutt did some exceptional work that can be appreciated (at least by the breeder) by growing out OP seedlings.


As has been mentioned, it is a good parent, both staminate and pistillate…and Julia Child and Easy Going will produce disease resistant seedlings…but definitely not hardy to my Zone 2(US) conditions.

I try to work in a bit of spinosissima in the breeding to get cold hardiness.

Photo below is the result of this strategy…(Morden Sunrise X seedling of Easy Going) X (Julia Child X Prairie Peace)


I thought this fragrant, thick petalled, glossy foliage seedling showed great promise but it totally defoliated with BS this summer…and from observing other similar seedlings, it ironically appears to come from the Easy Going side…at least that is my anecdotal suspicion. I’ve abandoned using EG.

One surprise I did get with working with Morden Sunrise was when crossed with saturated reds, Morden Sunrise can yield equally saturated F1 reds.

Doug Wild

Hi Donald,
The lack of disease resistance you’re seeing with Morden Sunrise is one of the reasons I cutback on my growing and doing crosses with the Mordens a number of years ago. The other reason being they weren’t as hardy as I’d like. I haven’t grown Morden Sunrise so I can’t report how it would have grown here and the only Morden that has done well for me is Prairie Joy so I’ve done a few crosses with it. The lack of hips on MS would be a problem if you wanted to use it as the seed parent so maybe it would be better used as the pollen parent.

I had L83 for a number of years but never got around to doing any crosses with it. I also had Prairie Celebration which is a first generation offspring of L83 and I didn’t consider it as nice as plant as Prairie Joy. Last year I just used one pollen on it but most of the hips aborted.

Like Doug, I’ve dabbled with using R.spinosissima for increased hardiness. Last year I used pollen of a (Prairie Peace OP) plant I had on both High Voltage and Goldbusch and have several seedlings from each that clearly show the (PPOP) influence. The only problem is that they have been somewhat susceptible to powdery mildew, but not enough for me to cull them. It’ll take a few years for them to bloom but hopefully they’ll be worth the wait.

Great color on the seedling.

Doug- those are beautiful seedlings, and it sounds like you’re way ahead of me in improving Morden Sunrise. I can’t see anything in your profile to indicate your location- are you on the prairies? I agree that simply mining a cultivar through OP cycles is an exciting prospect- it would be interesting to do that with MS, selecting for disease resistance each generation.
Paul- MS does produce hips for me- in fact right now it’s a bundle of thin sticks with orange hips on them. It’s very arty, really.
Powdery mildew is also a problem here. As is anthracnose, as is rust… oh and this year I had a plague of thrips too. Love those guys.

Paul…Surprised that you think Morden Sunrise lacking in hip production although my plant is now over 12 years old and quite large (6’X4’)…perhaps that makes the difference. A large percentage of crosses take in any summer conditions.


Morden Sunrise…and other yellows I use…often produce seedlings with weak root systems…this has been one of my greater obstacles. Also for me, juvenile plants of Morden Sunrise and Julia Child suffer from SDS…Sudden Death Syndrome. It took about 6 plants of nursery sourced Morden Sunrise (planted in the same bed) to get one that lasted the test of time and is shown in the photo.

To improve the root system I’ve used Fruhlingsduft…most of the seedlings were vigorous but were susceptible to BS…except this one…a real surprise. Flower form is similar to Morden Sunrise…perhaps more complex…a work in progress.


Also a fan of Prairie Joy…only crown hardy here in northern Alberta.

Hi Doug W, this plant, (MS x seedling) X (JCXPP) is a nice one, well done.

Doug, that’s great to hear that Morden Sunrise gets so large and sets so many hips for you. I misinterpreted Donald’s post, I thought he didn’t get many hips from it.

I hadn’t noticed my yellow seedlings having weak root systems. But most have been culled before they got very large because of a lack of disease resistance. I used Goldbusch as a seed parent because it’s semi hardy and it accepts pollen well, but it passes on its lack of resistance to BS so I haven’t kept many of it’s seedlings.

Donald, it’s the same here. This year the rose slugs were terrible, they really liked anything with gallica in them. Some of my seedlings were stripped clean.

If you need Carefree Sunshine pollen next spring let me know. I have access to a half dozen large plants being grown by someone in town. I’ve collected pollen there for my own use. The plants are actually, I think, the climbing sport, or on incredibly strong roots. This fall there were basals 6 ft high in bloom in Sept. Unfortunately the owners cut it back to 2 ft in early Oct, before I could gather OP hips this season. There may be a few yet lurking underneath. Just hope it doesn’t send forth too many flowering shoots in the next few weeks and get caught by a sudden freeze in early Nov.

I’ve not found regular CS even decently vigorous on its own root in my garden. It lives and blooms, now strictly in pots. Makes lots of pollen but offspring tend toward singleness very strongly. Not a very lasting yellow though far better than Sunny KO. Winter hardy below 0 F, maybe -10 but no chance to test below that here. Sunny KO is at least as winter-hardy. Brite Eyes and HV and Music Box were equally winter-hardy for me and all were BS free this summer. All set seed reasonably well with some odd pollen donors including R pomifera from David Z. Whether we get plants is another question.

I’ve found that a plant such as my Arctic Sunrise, a pink with yellow underlay, with one yellow parent, will yield a reasonable fraction of yellows or golds in crosses to yellow pollen donors.

My e-address at is simply ldavis. The CS will be in bloom early May, depending on how spring goes.

There ya go…Morden Sunrise x Music Box. Music Box is much hardier and more disease resistant than either Easy Going or Julia Child. It is remarkably clean here and very crown hardy. Plus, the double, phototropic blooms could combine with Morden Sunrise’s inherent loveliness in all sorts of gorgeous ways. It shares the glossy, dark green foliage as well.

Despite my cynicism about Morden Sunrise, I would actually try this cross if I still had MS.

I did Lemon Fizz x Music Box. There’s another one you could try…a single yellow.

That looks like a good cross, MS x Music Box. But it’s visually quite far from Morden Sunrise. The goal in this exercise is to take MS, cross it, and then back-cross it into something that looks and smells just like it, but is healthier and perhaps a bit more cold-hardy. To that end, do you think Music Box would contribute the right barely-double flowers, and deep yellows with a few red highlights? I suppose if I selected for those traits it might.

I was imagining an abstract goal that captured the loveliness of Morden Sunrise if not the exact form. I imagine Music Box contributing a few more petals and a stronger phototropic effect, while MS would contribute it’s darker orange color and subtly wavy petals. With a backcross I think you could be pretty close.

Hopefully the extremely light yellow of Music Box wouldn’t be dominant.