Gallicas & Damasks

I’m currently interested in eventually breeding gallicas. Paul Barden’s work with them is rather inspiring. I want to do this though mainly because they are one of the only types of roses that does well in Maryland no-spray, as in completely disease resistant with little to no disease at all, with a few exceptions. Crossing more modern ( I recently got a whole bunch of wonderful cuttings) or different types of roses with gallicas and then crossing those results and then maybe back to gallicas could help introduce the gallica toughness, shape, and vigor into more modern shrubs. However, that’s far down the road.

As of now I only have two gallicas, Tuscany Superb and Duchesse de Montebello. I have yet to see them bloom, but I can say that Tuscany Superb is a very vigorous plant. I had planted it outside the fence two fall ago and it was eaten down to the ground by deer, but in the time of one summer, once moved inside to a new bed, it turned itself into a small little bush.

Duchesse is very interesting to me. I remember reading that it is very fertile and it is possible that it has china in it’s bloodline. I found this interesting because it displayed very unusual behavior this winter. It defoliated all it’s old leaves for the winter, but it then insisted on sending up new leaves on the cane tips. Now, this particular rose was from Maryland, so it wasn’t a big climate difference in growing season, so I was wondering if that was it’s china blood showing through. I’m not sure if it still has those new leaves, it’s been really cold lately, but I’ll go check sometime today. Anyway, very curious rose, I’m intrigued by the secrets it might be hiding.

Also, on a second note I purchased a Leda this year and while it probably will be less disease resistant, I’m still willing to give it a shot. I’m wondering if it would be possible to integrate Leda into my eventual breeding program as well, has anybody worked with her before?

Hello Max,

I’m a no-spray Marylander too, and have tried a little of what you’re planning. So just to give you some food for thought…

Years back, I crossed moderns (Hybrid Teas mostly) with gallica ‘Apothecarys Rose’ pollen. I got lots of once-blooming seedlings, but disappointingly, mostly they had all of the same disease problems that their modern parent had. I think that it would have been VERY difficult to recover both healthiness and rebloom by intercrossing among these seedlings.

However, if you were to use more disease-resistant moderns as your source of rebloom genes, you’d be a little more likely to get that healthy combination of modern shrub with gallica attributes. Two examples from my experience: ‘Cherry Meidiland’ (which is very healthy here, but doesn’t seem to produce much pollen) gave some very healthy seedlings when crossed with gallica pollen; and a found “Old Garden Rose” (not gallica, but probably a damask) has given some relatively healthy (in spite of some mildew) seedlings when pollinated by ‘Carefree Sunshine’. These healthy once-blooming hybrids could be intercrossed or backcrossed to a healthy modern to recover repeat bloom and hopefully still maintain a modest influence from the gallica (or other old rose).

Aside from ‘Cherry Meidiland’ and ‘Carefree Sunshine’, I can recommend a few other repeaters as very healthy in Maryland:


‘Home Run’


‘White Dawn’

‘Prairie Harvest’

Good luck with your work, Tom

Just so others will know, I can add, ‘Knockout’ mildews badly and even blackspots in parts of Southern CA, to the point it has already been removed from some initial plantings.

Prairie Harvest and Mutabilis will develop mildew here in a bad season.

Hi Max,

I agree with you, Paul Barden

I have Paul Bardens Marianne and Allegra and they are very very healthy in my yard that most things that have any hybrid tea blood in them just defoliate by June from black spot. I think it would be interesting to see Livin Easy or Westerland crossed to some gallicas like Duchess de Montebello. I have all these roses, but can’t say I’ll ever get around to doing those crosses, but I think it would be neat if somebody tried for some orange/apricot colored gallica hybrids. Once bloomers are just wonderful in my opinion, always healthier than rebloomers and have more vigor too.

Marianna is very healthy for me (also Maryland), but Allegra suffers from BS significantly. Another Paul’s gallica Gallicande is also very healthy here. I grow all Paul’s gallicas and love them, but Marianna and Gallicande are much more healthy then others.


Thanks for the input guys.

Marianne is most certainly the most intriguing hybrid Paul Barden has crossed, and I’m very inclined to purchase it soon. The idea of it having both the genetics for yellow-cream coloring and recessive repeat bloom while still retaining the gallica health is a complete genetic jackpot. I think the gallica class, outside their health, can help the overall shape of modern shrubs as well, cut down on their twiggyness and actually make real “shrubs”.

‘Cherry Meidiland’ is an amazing seed setter/germinator for me.

Hi Max,

I had Leda in my garden in Duluth, Minnesota for quite a few years–until we moved to northern Wisconsin. It is absolutely one of my favorite damask roses–and one of the few that was reliably hardy in my Zone 3 garden. It always seemed to maintain enough wood each winter to manage to produce good bloom in the spring. It also showed above average disease resistance for a damask, with just occasional late season mildew and little or no blackspot–no major defoliation. However, from a breeding standpoint, I don’t recall it ever setting an OP hip–since I would have collected it. I’m thinking that it must not have produced much pollen either, or I would have tried to use it in some crosses–I’m sure that at some point I tried to collect some. My guess is that I emasculated a few blooms and found only an anther or two–if any. However, my attempts at hybridizing with OGR’s other than species roses was not pursued vigorously, so maybe someone determined to succeed with them would have better luck. I had some luck using Tuscany Superb as a seed parent, but didn’t get anything worth keeping. Duchesse de Montebello was very hardy and disease resistant for me. She also showed a good degree of shade tolerance.