How To Use Some Older/Older-Looking Purples

I have several purple varieties I would like to try out this year and would like to know how they have been used (seed/pollen). Also, I am looking for any information regarding the types/classes (miniatures, modern shrubs). HMF has been helpful to a point but I would really like to know everyone’s personal experiences with these varieties so I can decide where I want to go with them in my breeding. I know I want to use them, I just don’t know in what ways. At this point, I am not overly concerned about carrying forward the mossing of those with moss, but if mossing did carry forward, I would view it as a bonus.

The once-blooming old European roses I have:

Charles de Mills

Nuits de Young

Tuscany Supreme

William Lobb

Three Paul Barden Varieties with once-blooming old European varieties in their background:

Ellen Tofflemire

Fara Shimbo


For older repeaters I have:

Eugene de Beauharnais

Rose de Rescht


As always, thanks for the help.

Hi Andre, I’ve only used Tuscany Superb as pollen parent on Sequoia Ruby to create this. I’ve never seen anything resembling a hip on Eugene, Charles nor Rose de Wretch. I have encountered hips on William Lobb and Nuits de Young, but never raised anything from them. I agree with Ralph Moore that messing with sticky, mossy, prickly hips is a chore. If I were inclined to use a moss for breeding, it would definitely be for pollen whenever possible.

I used Tuscany Superb as the seed parent last year with three different pollens; Champlain, (Hot Wonder x William Baffin) and a possible triploid R.rugosa. I got good hip and seed set with the first two, not so well with the R.rugosa. I’ve gotten good germination from the seeds 20% to 25% even the seeds with R.rugosa so far. Since they’re just seedlings I can’t say what kind of plants they are. I haven’t used Charles de Mills but I used Frontenac pollen on Belle de Crecy several years ago and got a good number of seedlings. They’ve been very healthy but only a few have bloomed so far.

Charles de Mills will set seed only rarely, and its hit or miss as to which pollens it will accept. You will never get many seeds; generally a maximum of two per hip. They do germinate reasonably well, and some of the offspring will be nice, but I never got a hybrid that was as good as the parent. (Although Rook is nice enough, with excellent deep burgundy color, its a small flower and the plant is slow growing and modest in size) Most seedlings will be paler in color than Charles de Mills, and most will be less double.

Ellen Tofflemire never sets seed for me (YMMV) and I have not bothered to try to locate/use pollen, since I get the impression that it doesn’t make any. I consider ET to be a dead end rose. Too bad, as its a really mannerly, prolific bloomer with sterling qualities.

Nuits de Young will set seed readily and produce many viable seeds. Some offspring will be very mossy, some only modestly so, and some will have no moss whatsoever. This is one of your best bets for obtaining truly purple seedlings. I mean, deep, blackish purples.

William Lobb sets seed readily, and will give you loads of very easily germinated seeds. Many will be mossy, but the majority of offspring will be lavender/pink hues. Almost all will be large, sprawling plants like William Lobb. (Poor garden manners!)

I quit using Eugene de Beauharnais as its pollen was very poor, and what few offspring there were, were excessively dwarf, and almost all were unhealthy plants. Every seedling I got was discarded in season one.

Rose de Rescht will occasionally produce a seed for you, but few will germinate. You are better top use its pollen, if you can coax any from it. Most of its seedlings will be once bloomers or rebloom only sparingly, and most will be highly susceptible to blackspot. These two points are especially true if you cross it with modern types of China pedigree.

Fara Shimbo sets seed with abandon, but I have never used the seeds, so I cannot comment on the virtues of this as a parent.

Hansa, like most of the Rugosa clan, I feel has substantial potential value as a breeding plant. I have a few Hansa seedlings in the test garden and some are quite beautiful, and all are disease free.

Id try Great Western

Thank you for all the information. I will cross out a few of my plans based upon the information provided and plan a few more too.

Paul, I did get a few OP hips collected from Fara Shimbo last Fall so maybe something will come out of them. Hansa bloomed so late for me last year that I wasn’t able to use it. It is my favorite rugosa and one of the few that I actually grow. I still have to decide how to use it though. Everything about it I like, I just have to make up my mind. Too bad Ellen Tofflemire might be a dead end. I feel the same about Cardinal de Richileu. Both are really nice here in Iowa and I’d like to carry forward some of their characteristics. Probably not worth the time and effort when I have so many other varieties to explore.

Michael, I was looking at Great Western a few years ago but for some reason never got around to actually getting it. I’ll have to see if I can get some cuttings or find a reasonable source (I’m on a budget this year because of the new baby) so I can finally get it. It doesn’t have many descendants but I liked the look of Four Inch Heels (I think that is why it was on the list). I’ll get around to it eventually.

Paul, Belle de Crecy was another that was on my list a few years back. I will have to put it back on my list. I think I didn’t get it because there is only one descendant on the list and I didn’t want to waste my time on something that doesn’t produce a whole lot. Does this variety produce a good amount of hips/seeds? How is it as pollen donor (despite having all those petals).

Of the ones that may be able to produce hips, I wonder what applying pollen from a few of my modern purples or reds would do. I’m thinking Route 66, Midnight Blue, and a few of my older red (that fade to blue) HTs. I’m also wondering about Alexander Mackenzie and Hot Cocoa too. So much to think about. I am pretty sure most of these crosses will be done if I have some extra pollen.

thanks again for all the info


Belle de Crecy is so double that there are few if any stamens. There may have been some anthers to collect but I would have needed to emasculate many, many flowers to get enough pollen to do any crosses with. So I didn’t do any crosses using BdC pollen.

In addition to using Frontenac pollen on BdC, the following year I also used pollen from a (Carefree Beauty x John Cabot) plant and a Rugosa I have. In general those seedlings were not as healthy as those with Frontenac and I culled most of them. So it does make a difference what the pollen parent is.

Here is a breakdown of the pollinations:

2010 - Bdc x Frontenac – 9 pollinations, 4 hips, 56 seeds, 20 seedlings - 18 kept

2011 – BdC x (CBxJC) – 12 pollinations, 11 hips, 231 seeds, 12 seedlings - 4 kept

2011 – BdC x Rugosa – 10 pollinations, 3 hips, 53 seeds, 3 seedlings - 0 kept

As you can see there was much better germination in 2010 that in 2011 and the seedling were much healthier.

I wasn’t thinking of using BdC as a seed parent either until Lydia mentioned that she used Flower Red Carpet pollen on it and got good results so I decided to try it. She has an article about it in the Fall 2010 Newsletter.


I noticed that you live in the Des Moines area and while it’s somewhat warmer there than it is here, I’m sure it gets plenty cold there in the winter, so winter hardiness is probably going to be an issue. A once blooming plant that is not winter hardy and dies back to the ground is not going to bloom that next summer. I found that out with Crested Jewel, it is Little Darling x Crested Moss. It would die back to the ground every winter so there wasn’t any one year old wood to bloom from that summer. What I realized is that when you cross a tender repeat blooming plant with a marginally hardy once blooming plant, you get a tender once blooming plant. This is something to consider not only with your crosses but also which plants you use as the seed parent (i.e. the Paul Barden’s once bloomers you mentioned). The crosses I’ve been making with the Gallicas have been with half hardy and hardy plants with the hopes the offspring are at least as hardy as the Gallica and maybe hardier, it might be something for you to consider as well.

Now I’m a bit more excited about the Carefree Beauty x Nuits de Young seedlings that are up. Hopefully there are a couple worth keeping and perhaps backcrossing to Nuits de Young… Liz


winter (cold) hardiness is a big issue for me despite being warmer than where you are located. I am hoping to avoid the tenderness issue by using my more hardy varieties. I will also use a few of my winterizing methods to see if I can get them through the winter without too much damage - I have had good success with piled up leaves, digging a pit in the vegetable garden and laying the potted varieties in it, and putting my more valuable ones in the garage. This is not something I want to do for an extended amount of time as it is time consuming so I am hoping that I can either get lucky and get a few seedlings that can do well enough outside that they are able to bloom or that can be used for a few years in developing F2 generations that are hardier before being discarded or sent somewhere warm. I do grow a lot of half hardy and hardy plants so I will focus on using these with a smattering of the not so hardy ones. Thanks for the advice.


Wow, awesome, congratulations on your new kin :]