High Country wishlist

I just got my High Country Roses catalog and typed up a quick interest list and am going through them on HMF. I would welcome any comments on the following roses in terms of breeding. Are alba roses tough to breed with?

Top Gun
Guirlande D’Amour
Rose de Meaux
Pompon Blanc Parfait
Duc de Fitzjames
Monsieur Boncenne
Easy on the Eyes
Easy to Please
R. hugonis
R. xanthina
R. moyesii
R. gallica officinalis
Mountain Mignonette
Lemon Zen
Diamond Eyes
Snow Pavement
Moje Hammerberg

I got my High Country Roses catalog the other day also. I wasn’t thinking of buying any roses this year but they had some roses I’ve thought about getting for a number of years though never have, so I broke down and ordered a few.

I’ve grown a number of striped roses over the years but most have not been worth keeping for various reasons. The only one that I’ve kept is Fiesta which has small flowers and tall lanky growth so I’d like to look at others. I went back to Ralph Moore’s source and ordered Ferdinand Picard. I haven’t grown a Hybrid Perpetual before so this will be a new experience.

I wanted to order a second HP Mrs. John Laing but they were out of stock, so I ordered Reine Des Violettes instead, mostly because it’s thornless or nearly so.

I tried Ebb Tide a number of years ago but was underwhelmed by it and culled it after two years. I ordered Midnight Blue which is a sibling of Ebb Tide but reportedly easier to grow. I haven’t had much so luck growing west coast roses but I’m willing to give it a try. It has similar color to Diamond Eyes on your list and may be related.

At my prior location I grew the Alba, Maidens Blush for a number of years. It was the hardiest and healthiest of the OGR roses I had, but it wasn’t completely hardy and I don’t remember it blooming all that much. I did use it in a number crosses only as the pollen parent, but I didn’t get many seedlings from those and kept none of them.

Thanks for the input, Paul.

I’ve had a Midnight Blue in a pot for years…back when Paul Barden was on the forum he spoke highly of it as a breeder. It is fun to use as a breeder because of the rich colors it can impart, but as you say it is a West Coast rose and I wouldn’t be too optimistic about its outdoor performance. I just got Ebb Tide last year but it didn’t do much at all in a pot so yeah, underwhelmed.

I’ll have to check out Reine Des Violettes because there aren’t too many paths towards thornlessness.

Someone should repeat Rolf Sievers’ Maiden’s Blush hybrids with hardier pollen parents (red, yellow, white). We (or at least I…) need Z3 hardy OGR-type shubs.
Schneezwerg has given ’Elle’, a quite interesting hybrid from Norway. It is Schneezwerg x Rosa gallica ’Splendens’, the latter very widely grown in Finland as ’Valamonruusu’ and likely the same as ’Alika’ of North America.
Elle does set hips and produces copious amounts of pollen. I have used it as pollen parent, hoping that it passes on some of the repeat flowering genes of Schneezwerg.
Jukka, Finland

I grew Schneezwerg for a number of years. You can tell it’s a hybrid, everything about it is smaller than a straight Rugosa, including the leaves, the flowers and hips, plus it has a more open growth habit. I had limited luck as the seed parent and a little better luck as the pollen parent, with lots of seeds with Metis. The problem is that most of the seedlings were quite susceptible to powdery mildew.

The only other rose on your list that I’ve grown is Agnes but that was 20 years ago and that was when I first started growing roses so I don’t remember much about it. I do remember that it had a strong scent and that it may have had limited re-bloom.

I should add that Agnes might be a good avenue towards a yellow Rugosa style rose. I never tried in any crosses so I can’t say how it is as a parent. I grew Topaz Jewel and it was a bust. I never got seeds from TJ either as the seed parent or the pollen parent.

I have never seen hips with seeds on ‘Agnes’. It tries to form them but there is only fluff inside.

Agnes pollen has some viability. I discovered this in some crosses about 30 years ago. But I never got anything useful from the few seeds I got. See 'GSHAG' Rose


Thanks, everyone.

Peter, I had just found the rose to which you had linked. The only listed descendant of Agnes. Sounds like a challenge.

I found the variety Top Gun as a bagged 1 1/2 grade variety at Menards this past week (Menards is another big box home improvement store for those unfamiliar). When I purchased it I vaguely remembered something being said about its disease resistance and when I got home I looked it up again to see it was RRD that it is supposedly resistant to.

I’m excited to try it out as I have lost too many favorite seedlings and breeding roses to the disease in the past few years (after having gone 20+ years with only one case of it). Hopefully it is more than hype and if anything else, it will be a good variety to grow regardless. We’ll see how it is as a breeder for me.

The other rose from your list I have is R. xanthina. I am hoping that mine will actually bloom this year. I did notice that it had some leaves opening up 3 days ago. I wonder how the latest snow storm treated it - guess I’ll find out later today. The thing I have noticed about this rose that I am liking is the fact that while the new spring/early summer growth has thorns, the fast growth occurring in the hotter parts of the season have none at all. Kind of similar to Therese Bugnet and what the climber Senegal used to do for me. Always an interesting trait to be found on these roses.


I have a Top Gun from Menards, too! I did up my list quickly but I thought I’d get peoples’ opinions. Likely a rose of “California hardiness” which is to say none, but worth a try. There was a post on this forum a while back about how Top Gun stock might have been infected with RRD…so mixed messages right now on its potential resistance.

I am also growing some R. xanthina that were started with seed from China (via Kim and a person from the Texas university). So far they’ve not been hardy enough to have significant bloom. Nice foliage, though. Last year mine leafed out very early and got caught hard by a late frost. Maybe hugonis would be better, but I’m partial to any rose name that starts with “x”.



I will admit that having a yellow species with a name that starts with “x” is pretty cool. I am hoping that it blooms for the first time this year - if the weather will stop being so fickle. Oh the things I want to do with this one…

I have no clue how Top Gun will perform or how to use it as a breeder, but I will be throwing its pollen on my hardy varieties. With Memorial Day in its background I will be careful to not use partners that are too tender for me. Memorial Day does grow in my garden and it is a very fine rose indeed. But it does need protection and I’d rather take it’s progeny up the cold tolerance scale rather than down. Fortunately, I have a lot of super hardy varieties to play with.

I’m fortunate to be a few zones warmer than you are but I still have to watch the hardiness of a lot of things and I do go through a lot of effort to get my “California Hardy” roses through the winter just so I can use them in breeding for the next year. I will take my zone 5b over you zone 3 any day, but I still dream of the day where I have enough good quality breeders that will survive my winter without too much extra effort.

There was a very nice specimen of Hugonis at the Elizabeth Park Rose Garden for many years. I grew a couple from seeds from that plant and eventually turfed them out on account of having too many other priorities. It is very prickly and very spin-like in appearance except for the blossom which is solid yellow early on fading over time as they all do but would be a good source of yellow. It has tiny leaves and petals and small hips that were not particularly colorfull iirc. Did I mention prickly?

If you are going to use it as a source of yellow it might be worth working with because of its hardiness but it will require a great deal of work and most of your youth to get anywhere with it. Consider that it took McGredy a lifetime to tame spinosissima which is pretty close to hugonis. You could get lucky, though, like Pernet-Ducher did with foetida. Of course, his father-in-law spent a lifetime chasing hard yellow and never caught it.

This is true of many species roses, of course. In my experience the only exception is virginiana which is highly fertile and tetraploid to boot. I’ve had many successful crosses with it though haven’t followed up on the f1’s. Warren’s work shows it can be refined in a reasonable amount of time.


For the reasons you list I’ve wearied on the spins and probably won’t waste my time on hugonis, either.

My R. virginiana and R. carolina (both purchased from Lawyer Nurseries in bundles of 25 or 50 of which I planted out five that I selected for reduced thorns at the bare root seedlings stage), seem very similar. The R. carolina seem to be more rust and mildew resistant.

As I mentioned in another thread, my current angle is R. nitida, which like R. virginiana and R. carolina seems to have more modern foliage. As a diploid, I hope it will be easier to regain remontancy from R. nitida in the F2.

I’m also hoping to make some crosses with R. davidii this year. I have some seedlings of [(R. carolina x R. centifolia) x an OP descendant of Henry’s acicularis/calocarpa/nutkana line]. If they bloom this year I’d like to cross them with R. davidii to continue my hardy tetraploid mashup. Next up, adding in R. gallica. Then a few decades of OP selection and I’ll have my own species, R. bergesonii. I’ll spread the seeds randomly throughout the US to confuse the heck out of future botanists.