Hardy ramblers from R. laxa

I wanted to reply to Paul Olsen’s last entry in the Stanwell Perpetual thread but realized I’d be drifting way off topic. Let me start by pasting in his post here:

Percy Wright’s statement that ‘Ross Rambler’ (Rosa laxa) repeats better than Rosa rugosa is definitely not true. Especially, when compared to ‘Schneezwerg’. He was quite capable of hyperbole when it came to writing about roses he was excited about. For example, his own ‘Hazeldean’ and ‘Ross Rambler’.

In response to Joe’s idea of crossing Rugosas with Rosa laxa, I once had a ‘Hansa’ x Rosa laxa selection. It had semi-double, medium pink flowers. While I only had it for a short time, it didn’t repeat its flowers. But I had it growing in a very warm climate (Zone 8). But perhaps ‘Schneezwerg’ x Rosa laxa would be a better combination to produce progeny having repeat blooming flowers.

In my opinion, the main value Rosa laxa has is developing Climber or Pillar roses for a Zone 3 climate. The evidence likely is its use in the development of the Zone 3 hardy Pillar roses ‘Praire Youth’ and ‘Prairie Dawn’. For this breeding program, I’d like to see Rosa laxa combined with some of the Explorer Rosa kordesii cultivars like ‘William Baffin’ and ‘Henry Kelsey’. And there is also very good potential combining Rosa laxa with Spinosissima cultivars, especially to develop progeny having yellow flowers.

Assuming we can use Ross Rambler and R. laxa interchangably as per the investigative report in the newsletter awhile ago?

My Ross Rambler sets hips with one or two seeds per hip. But every single blossom that I pollinated last year failed. It seems like we’ll have to use it as a pollen parent. The numbered seedlings of Ross Rambler appear to be crosses with a spinosissima, no? I have RR#4, and it definitely seems like a spin hybrid. They were open pollinated, which seems to imply self-sterility.

It would be really cool if we could somehow cross Ross Rambler with Persian Yellow. The other thing I keep thinking is how to reduce or eliminate the thorns. I suppose create a bridge by crossing with a thornless R. blanda. Maybe then double the chromosomes and cross with Commander Gillette? Or cross with a thornless wichurana?

I don’t have Schneezwerg, Paul, but your own Keewatin strikes me as the bloomingest of the rugosas. I haven’t had good luck getting it to take foreign pollen, however. I could put Ross Rambler pollen on Rugosa #3 and get tons of seeds which would allow for testing remontancy of that cross. And also put Ross Rambler pollen on a fertile modern like Yellow Brick Road and test that angle. I’m kinda suspecting there wouldn’t be many truly remontant seedlings in either cross.

I likely will lose interest in Ross Rambler crosses for the same reason that I’m not too interested in Stanwell Perpetual…intensely thorny roses kind of scare me.

Joe I have a rambler/climber from a F2 virginiana do you think it would tolerate lower zones?

It just depends on what you mean by lower, Warren. I doubt it would be cane hardy here in USDA hardiness Zone 3b (min temps around -35 C).

Virginiana itself is fairly cane hardy here, with the potential to die back to the snow line. My virginiana F1’s have been through a maximum of one winter, so it remains to be seen how much hardiness it will confer to crosses with less-hardy moderns. I’m hoping they keep enough live wood to bloom.

Hi Joe,

I’ve struggled using ‘Ross Rambler’ in crosses too. It is a pretty rose and has been nicely cane hardy in the Twin Cities. It’s amazing seeing the photos from Morden with that huge plant they used to have. I’m having a hard time getting it to grow taller than chest high. I wonder how closely related R. fedtschenkoana and R. laxa are. I haven’t grown R. fedtschenkoana, but they seem very similar in pictures and the stray repeat seem similar too. Maybe one is just diploid and the other tetraploid and they are otherwise really the same species (like diploid and tetraploid forms of R. palustris). R. fedtschenkoana is in the background of the damask roses and likely the source of the fall rebloom in the ‘Autumn Damask’ and roses bred out of it, potentially including ‘Stanwell Perpetual’. It seems like that is a different sort of repeat than the major gene that generally needs to be homozygous recessive out of R. chinensis and is the same gene in some of the repeat blooming R. multiflora and R. rugosa sources. At the international rose meetings in 2013 in Hannover, the French research group talked about sequencing that gene and finding the different mutated sequences in these different sources of rebloom. It is just a messed up gene that regulates or suppresses blooming after the first flush it seems. Mutations to it have occurred multiple times and it is relatively easy to mess up genes so they don’t express and function normally. When we cross roses across these typical reflowering groups they typically result in repeat flowering roses (rugosa x polyantha, etc.). It seems like this fall repeat out of R. laxa that is different can be dominant. Some of the crosses with the R. laxa at the MN Landscape Arboretum and other species and roses lead to some displaying the fall repeat like the R. laxa, where crosses of the non-repeating species and typical reblooming sources results in all non-repeat seedlings. The paternal parent of Above and Beyond is a hybrid of R. virginiana x R. laxa and it has a strong repeating flush later in the season, more so than even the R. laxa parent. This seems to express itself in new vigorous canes from the base terminating in flowers in mid summer (much like primocane fruiting raspberries) and also some stray branches off of overwintered branches up on top in the canopy growing out and flowering. As Peter Harris and I have visited about it, he suggested it seems like there are just delayed buds that sprout out later in the season that have the capacity to still flower. Sometimes current season side buds from leaves just below flowers on spring flowering stems grow out and can give one more flush, but that has seemed less routine in my climate.

In the wonderful book Explorer Roses by F. Svejda that Harry McGee and Roses Canada helped make possible, Svejda contributed her wonderful hand notes of the full pedigrees the best she knows them of her roses. I lent my copy to a friend and unfortunately don’t have it handy now, but I remember her listing R. laxa in the background of ‘William Baffin’. I wonder if WB has the R. laxa style of rebloom and that accounts for many of the hybrids of it with modern repeat blooming roses being either one time bloomers or limited in rebloom in the style of R. laxa once the plants are established.


“My Ross Rambler sets hips with one or two seeds per hip. But every single blossom that I pollinated last year failed. It seems like we’ll have to use it as a pollen parent.”

As you may know, It was Dr. Giffith Buck who first wrote that Rosa laxa doesn’t accept foreign pollen easily. That is also my experience, so yes this species works best as the staminate parent. But it can be done, and I’m going to continue using Rosa laxa this way.

“The numbered seedlings of Ross Rambler appear to be crosses with a spinosissima, no? I have R.R. #4, and it definitely seems like a spin hybrid. They were open pollinated, which seems to imply self-sterility.”

Apparently, they are. But if so, not all are. I’m not convinced R.R. 1 (‘Alberta Bouquet’) is, and R.R. 3 (‘Walter Schowalter’) definitely isn’t. If controlled crosses are difficult to make using Rosa laxa as the pistillate parent, then it stands to reason it would be more difficult for this species to be successfully open pollinated. But perhaps Spinosissima roses or at least one of them ( ‘Harison’s Hardy’ as Percy Wright suggested) works better in this respect. I’m inclined to believe that Rosa laxa is actually self-fertile.

“It would be really cool if we could somehow cross Ross Rambler with Persian Yellow.”

Yes, absolutely, although it would likely be difficult to do. I may have a seedling of Rosa laxa x ‘Hazeldean’, which should have several flowers next year. Apparently, Robert Simonet developed a selection of this hybrid many decades ago.

“And also put Ross Rambler pollen on a fertile modern rose like Yellow Brick Road.”

Again, yes. There has been virtually no work crossing modern yellow roses with Rosa laxa, although I’m more inclined for the sake of obtaining good cold hardiness for Zone 3, to first develop modern yellow roses x a typical Scotch rose and then cross a selection with Rosa laxa. I might be able to do this next year, if a selection of ‘Yellow Brick Road’ x Scotch rose I have flowers for the first time in 2015.

Attached are some notes regarding the use of the Ross Rambler rose at Morden.
Marshall archives April 2014 1288 images 905.JPG
Marshall archives April 2014 1288 images 904.JPG
Marshall archives April 2014 1288 images 903.JPG

And here is page four of Ross rose report from Morden
Marshall archives April 2014 1288 images 906.JPG

For those interested in the entire Morden 1931 Rose Report by Godfrey, I’ve placed it at the following Dropbox link. It discusses fertility issues with ‘Stanwell Perpetual’ and others.

Thanks Margit for posting this information on William Godfrey’s work with ‘Ross Rambler’. It appears he didn’t have a problem using this Rosa laxa genotype as a pistillate parent.

I think it’s important to point out that the source of ‘Ross Rambler’ was likely a few thousand kilometres from where Dr. N.E. Hansen collected Rosa laxa in Siberia, so that is perhaps why there is a difference in the two shrub’s appearance. ‘Ross Rambler’ is more prickly. There is also a difference in the ploidy. ‘Ross Rambler’ is a diploid and at least some of the populations of Rosa laxa are tetraploid. Perhaps this explains why ‘Ross Rambler’ is apparently more fertile as a pistillate parent than at least some of the Rosa laxa material (feel free to comment on this statement, David Z).

I think it’s unfortunate Godrey’s ‘Ross Rambler’ x ‘Schneezwerg’ (and the reverse) material apparently didn’t go any further in a breeding program. It could have been the basis, for example, to develop yellows cold hardy to Zone 3 in the late 1930’s or at least the 1940’s. Indeeed, this route still has potential and should be explored.

Seasons Greeting everyone.
The thread zeros in on many of the aspects of early rose breeding here on the prairies. After almost 100 years
we are still looking for that big break through in the range of colour and as Paul Olsen always say true climbers
and pillar roses that can survive the -35 to -45 deg. C that the Canadian Prairies can experience.
This discussion led me to look up “Isabella Skinner” bred by Dr. Frank Skinner.
HMF says its a rosa laxa hybrid, hardy to zone 2b. Why isn’t this rose being use as a "gateway"to hardier yellow roses?

If it is true that ‘Isabella Skinner’ is ‘Victorian Memory’ (I have VM from High Country from years ago), it isn’t cane hardy enough to serve as a cane hardy climber in cold zones unprotected. It routinely dies down to about knee high or so in the Twin Cities in zone 4. It is a beautiful rose and I’m glad I have it. It gets about 6’ tall by fall routinely. I haven’t used it too much in breeding unfortunately. I have to double check my notes, but I think it is triploid.


One problem ‘Isabella Skinner’ has is that it can be very susceptible to blackspot. I once attempted to propagate this rose cultivar by softwood cuttings under an intermittent mist system, but I had no success because the cuttings were immediately hit by blackspot. I don’t recall encountering another rose cultivar having this problem, and I’ve propagated many of them using this system.

In a breeding program to develop yellow Pillar roses cold hardy to Zone 3, there are six approaches I’m thinking right now having potential.

But first develop a species or near species hybrid with Rosa laxa using, for example, Rosa altaica or ‘Hazeldean’.

Keep in mind for developing cold hardiness to Zone 3, generally I think the pedigree should be 75% cold hardy to Zone 2.

  1. (Yellow HT/Floribunda/shrub rose x Double Scotch/Rosa altaica) x Rosa laxa/(Rosa laxa x 'Hazeldean). Note this would result in progeny having a pedigree 75% cold hardy to Zone 2.

  2. (Yellow HT/ Floribunda/shrub rose x Rosa laxa) x Rosa altaica/Rosa laxa x ‘Hazeldean’).

  3. (Yellow Floribunda/Miniature x L83) x Rosa laxa/(Rosa laxa x ‘Hazeldean’).

  4. (Rosa maximowicziana x Rosa wichurana) x (Rosa laxa x ‘Hazeldean’). I’m not sure what the final product would be, but I think it would be interesting to try it. Cold hardiness might be lacking.

  5. (Rosa maximowicziana x Rosa woodsii) x (Rosa laxa x ‘Hazeldean’). Note that ‘Ames Climber’ could be substituted as the pistillate parent, but ideally it should be more cold hardier than this Rosa multiflora x Rosa blanda hybrid.

  6. (‘Schneezwerg’ x Rosa laxa) x Rosa xanthina/(Rosa laxa x ‘Hazeldean’). Or (‘Schneezwerg’ x Rosa xanthina) x Rosa laxa/(Rosa laxa x ‘Hazeldean’).

Not to detract from the subject of this thread, I received some seed(95grms) from the Netherlands of Rosa corymbifera ‘Laxa’. My intention was to use them as seed grown rootstock and bud onto them. As the subject is about Rosa ‘Laxa’, which form are the posters of this thread using in the crosses mentioned.

Regards David.

I’m doing similarly with Banksae seedling material, David. They’re germinating and I shall root pieces from the seedlings to obtain my own clean stocks.

[quote=“david mears”]Not to detract from the subject of this thread, I received some seed(95grms) from the Netherlands of Rosa corymbifera ‘Laxa’. My intention was to use them as seed grown rootstock and bud onto them. As the subject is about Rosa ‘Laxa’, which form are the posters of this thread using in the crosses mentioned.

Regards David.[/quote]

Please remember that Rosa laxa, Retzius is not the same as the rootstock R. corymbifera ‘Laxa’ which is a canina relative. It would be better to put this rootstock discussion in its own thread so that it could be found more easily.


I did not know there was another form of ‘Laxa’. I have just checked on HMF and it is a good looking rose, thanks for pointing it out, I will check to see it it is in Australia. No need to make a new thread.

Regards David.

How hardy is J5? HMF states 3b but that may not indicate ‘no dieback hardy’. I know its one of Paul’s more liked roses so I am sure its been part of the discussion elsewhere. I still think its one of the most beautiful and well behaved roses. If it were a repeat blooming rose, it would be the perfect large rose for me. It may actually be my most liked rose. Seems like it would be a good candidate for consideration. I am kind of jumping in out of the blue so I may be totally on the wrong track. As far as climbing, if it doesn’t suffer cane dieback, it gets very large. My j5 has enveloped a pear tree and is almost as tall as my 2 story house. Its over the top big. The awesome thing about it, it doesn’t sucker and has prolific flower production.

If I still did hybridizing, it would be right at the center of my efforts. My big problem was figuring out how best to use all the Hazeldean / R. spin roses I have. I never got hips to form on J5 and rarely got them on Hazeldean \ Prairie Peace and didn’t get any seeds that germinated. The extra long cold stratification period is a little much for my attention span and I typically forget them and they have turned into some form of fungal mush by the time I remember. I never got beyond step 1, getting a hybrid from the yellow \ yellow blend r. spin hybrids that was fertile. The triploid problem was the challenge there. I was to the point of trying them with ‘Out of Yesteryear’ because of some rumors that Out of Yesteryear would take pollen from a limited fertility triploid and end up producing offspring that could be just about anything. Diploid / triploid / etc. (by the way, has anyone managed to double Hazeldean or Prairie Peace?) . I moved on to other things before I managed to get a hybrid from them.

I really wanted to get a cross between Golden Glow (the old Brownell climber) and a hardy yellow. I almost had a Golden Glow x Williams Double Yellow but my silly labradore retriever ate it one morning when I had taken it outside for some indirect sun. No idea why my lab decided it needed to eat my potted roses. That was the last time I tried hybridizing btw. Was hoping to get a fertile rose from that cross and then put J5 pollen on it and also some of the other Spin hybrid pollen on it and see what happens.

That does remind me, Williams Double Yellow is a beautiful rose and might be worth looking into. Mine died when it got overran by what I was told was Ross Rambler. I did not care for Ross Rambler much. Pretty while flowers and set tons of hips but almost all the hips were seedless on mine. It didn’t get tall, just formed a thicket of 6-12ft canes. Suckers like crazy. RR and Polstjarnan took over a 12x16 garden and I spent an entire bloody summer (at least a quart maybe more) hacking the mess down. RR killed (and neglect) my Williams Double Yellow and this really neat stipled R. virginiana. I never got a hybrid from RR or Polstjarnan. I wouldn’t expect to get something from Polstjarnan but I tried. Very little pollen Wicket rose but pretty white flowers. Plant either of these 2 roses at your own risk IMO.

Thought I would also bring up Mike Lowes hybrid Irenes Delight. Its Autumn Sunset x William Baffin. Not that hardy but perhaps with the right cross some of the Baffin hardy could be re-found. Paul Zimmerman might still have Irenes Delight somewhere.

The only other rose I tried with was Beauty of Leafland. Was hoping to cross it with a buck rose to see if I could get something that didn’t blow so rapidly.

Ok, I am done babbling now. Some day I may actually get back into roses. Right now I have to many things on my mind. If anyone is ever in Idaho, they are welcome to stop by grab some suckers. I try to offer pollen in the spring but every time I mess up or get busy. I will do it again this year but I have dropped the ball like 4 years in a row now.

Anyway, maybe one of the roses I blubbered about would make sense to someone as a viable candidate for a r. laxa partner.

I’ve got J5 in Zone 3b. Can’t remember about the dieback last winter. It hasn’t built itself up too much yet in about three years. I notice on HMF that it took three generations to get Morden Sunrise, with no mention if the roses in between are reblooming. I have 49 seeds from Love & Peace x J5 this year, so we’ll see if any first-gen rebloomers. If not, it is unlikely that any of them will be hardy enough to bloom outside here.