In search of the elusive Canadian Pimpinellifoliae - an update

About two years ago I embarked on a quest to procure for my garden every Canadian Pimpinellifoliae that still exists. Unlike most such quests in rosedom it is not just a matter of finding growers who offer the desired variety, write a check and them plant them when the roses arrive on your doorstep. In two years I have only found five Canadian Pimpinellifoliae for sale anywhere in the US, Canada or Europe. The others that I have been able to acquire are from friends in Canada who dug up suckers from their gardens and sent them to me. Without them I would have very little to show for my efforts.

I now have the following Canadian pimpinellifoliae in my garden: Agnes, Alberta Bouquet, Beauty of Leafland, Buttertball, Butterflies, Golden Altai, Haidee, Haris, Hazeldean, Hedley (a found rose), Isa Murdock, Kilwinning, Leafland Double White Altai, Louis Riel, Madeline’s Choice, Prairie Dawn, Prairie Peace, Prairie Sweetheart, Prairie Youth, Prairie Wren, Prairie Youth, Red Dawn x Suzanne, Ross Rambler 4, Ross Rambler 6, Seager Wheeler, Suzanne and Yellow Altai. All of these except possibly Halzadean are doing very well. Some are over 30 inches tall.

I will be getting this year 6 Isabella Preston roses: Ardelia, Carmenetta, Conestoga, Mohawk, Orinda and Patricia Macoun. I also have on order: Bob’s Single Pink, Musician and Beauty of Dropmore.

I need the following: Altalaris, Amy Hedrick, Antenor (supposedly AgCanada has this in their garden), Bobolink, Coralee, Cree, Double Cream Altai, Dr. F. L. Skinner, Dropmore Yellow, Grace, Hardy Salmon, Harison’s Hardy, Harison’s Single, Huron, Iroquois, Jean, Kakwa, Karen, Larry Burnett, Loch Lomond, Lucasia, Madge, Marion Gwyneth, Mauve Altai, Millicent, Peach of Leafland, Pink Altai, Pink Garland, Plenissima, Poliarchus, Porter’s Double Altasi, Prairie Charm, Prairie Magic, Prairie River, Prairie Sailor, Regina, Rosania, Silvander, Suzanne x Red Dawn, U. P. Hedrick, Valeria and William Godfrey. I understand that in Finland there is a rose grown as Seager Wheeler that looks like the Canadian variety except that it has serrated petals. I will try to get this variety but there are no rose growers in the country willing to send roses to the US.

If anyone knows where any of these might be acquired please let me know.

Now I plan on doing more than just look at these roses. I believe that somewhere in Canada there should be at least two public gardens where a complete collection of surviving Canadian Pimpinellifoliae can be found. I plan on eventually providing at no cost suckers of my plants so that these collections can be established. I also plan to offer suckers to those who are interested in hybridizing with them. The only exceptions to this offer are varieties such as Red Dawn x Suzanne and seedlings I receive from hybridizers. I don’t feel I can give their work away without their permission.

I also plan on doing limited hybridization of varieties such as Prairie Peace, while its seeds may not be fertile I understand its pollen is.


I commend your efforts because several of the Canadian developed Spinosissima cultivars are in danger of disappearing. Unfortunately, we have only two public rose gardens that have very good collections of these cultivars - the Devonian Botanic Garden and the Montreal Botanical Gardens. The latter can be depended on to maintain its collection very well; the former can’t because of the poor management of the botanical garden (for example, no staff horticulturist has any rose culture expertise - an appalling and unacceptable situation for a major Canadian botanical garden.)

Just a few comments regarding some of the cultivars you listed.

Several cultivars you list have disappeared. These include ‘Altalaris’, ‘Bobolink’, ‘Cree’, ‘U.P. Hedrick’, ‘Regina’, ‘William Godfrey’, ‘Jean’, ‘Loch Lomond’, ‘Dropmore Yellow’ and several others.

‘Agnes’ - A Rugosa not a Spinosissima hybrid.

‘Golden Altai’ - I know the MBG lists this Percy Wright cultivar, but I question if they have the right cultivar since it probably disappeared decades ago.

‘Louis Riel’ - Strictly speaking, it is classed as a Rosa glauca hybrid since the shrub’s characteristics are more similar to this species than the other parent - Rosa altaica.

‘Musician’ - Half the parentage is Rosa rugosa, so it is considered a Rugosa hybrid.

‘Red Dawn’ x ‘Suzanne’ - Robert Simonet, the breeder, died more than 20 years ago so there is no problem to distribute it. However, it is too much of a stretch to call it a Spinosissima hybrid. Its appearance is that of a modern shrub rose. The same could be said for ‘Prairie Dawn’ and ‘Prairie Youth’.

Where are you getting your Preston cultivars from? Some of them are not even located at the DBG rose garden yet, so I’m unhappy to hear several of the rare ones you list are apparently going to be shipped out of the country before they are established at it.


Agnes confuses me because I have seen it tested and listed in European abstracts as a 4+1. Do they really mean the hybrid rugosa? Or is there another Agnes? Very confusing.

I also plan on doing limited hybridization of varieties such as Prairie Peace, while its seeds may not be fertile I understand its pollen is.

I think it would be worth testing the seed fertility of Prairie Peace with close hybrids of other roses at the primitive end of the spectrum such as Harison’s Yellow, the foetidas, hugonis, other spins, omeiensis, roxburghii and hulthemia. I’ve had some limited success with this strategy applied to Sericea and Harison’s Yellow.

The idea here is that these will have greater homology with each other than with modern roses which are more distantly related because they descend mostly from chinensis, multiflora and moschata.

The reason I recommend trying close hybrids rather than the species themselves (which might be better for cross fertility) is that resulting seedlings could better serve as bridges to more modern roses.

I am including first generation pimpinellifoliae hybrids in the collection. Thus Agnes, Louis Riel, Musician etc.

Regarding Isabella Preston roses, at least three others are still in existance - Conestoga, Longford and Carmenetta. A friend in Germany has gotten budwood of Longford and if it is successfully budded I will be sent one. Vintage Gardens has Carmenetta and I should be able to get one from him. Conestoga grows in the Devonian and I hope to get a sucker of it. The five I will be getting are being custom propagated for me in Montreal so no established plants will be taken from Canada. I know of no others in existence but hope I am mistaken. Cree was supposedly hardy to minus 49 degrees F. It is tragic that such plants are lost. I am very interested in conserving the ones that remain.

Kakwa is sold by Corn Hill Nursery in New Brunswick.

Corn Hill will not export to the US. I already tried them. Brentwood Bay has Patricia Macoun. Here is a pic of the Finnish Seager Wheeler.

I think it would be worthwhile to duplicate some of the Canadian Spinosissimas that have been lost. For example, ‘Altalaris’ (Rosa altaica x R. acicularis) and ‘U.P. Hedrick’ (Rosa altaica x probably ‘Betty Bland’). In fact, I gave the first one a shot a couple years ago using Rosa acicularis ‘Kinistino’ but didn’t get any takes. I’ll try this one again this year but use a tetraploid Rosa acicularis genotype. One thing to keep in mind is that Rosa acicularis is very uncommon in the Skinner’s Nursery area (several kilometres north of Russell, Manitoba) but Rosa woodsii is very common. Perhaps Frank Skinner knew the difference between these two species well. If not, then it is possible ‘Altalaris’ could have had Rosa woodsii as the staminate parent.

I saw and smelled Patricia Macoun a few years ago and it is fantastic. I did not realize that Brentwood Bay shipped roses. Another nursery to look at is Old Rose Nursery. Unfortunately I do not think that they ship into the US either.


OK, if Corn Hill won’t export to the US, who lives in Canada and is willing to obtain the rose and forward it here? Many years ago, a Canadian mini breeder I traded things with obtained what I sought that only Walter LeMire had and forwarded it to me here in California. It isn’t difficult and we CAN make things like this happen.

So… is there another Agnes? The usual suspect is a light yellow rugosa/foetida hybrid that is a triploid. So, I am confused as to why its included in the list, and which Agnes some European researchers are referring to.

It is possible that my Red Dawn x Suzanne is actually Suzanne x Red Dawn. Here is a picture of the flower.

Strange Cornhill says they won’t ship to US as I remember Suzy was trying to get Harrison Yellow Salomon a few years back.

Their site still quotes the following below for export and 25% of order value in shipping. Sounds like they need to update their site. Only thing they will not do is ship fruit trees to BC due to federal regulations.

“U.S. Customers Phytosanitary fee is $15.00. Payment is due in U.S. funds.”


Bottom of their order form says they no longer ship to US.

Your right I checked the 2011 hard cat and the stop exporting is stated on page 1. Glad they fixed at least one problem and that was the problem with Lucy Irene on the site. About three weeks back, each time I tried to order it kept giving me “carefree sunshine” - had to order by email to fix the problem. Hope anybody getting that sport through the web site a few weeks back made sure they did order “Lucy Irene”.

I do not know if Suzy was successful in getting harison salmon before the stop but you could check - it seemed to be a hard rose to get from them. I have it on order and hope for the best. Think her nursery is called north creek or something along those line and it is in Maine - visited once long ago. Off cornhill description

Harison salmon

“Zone 3 Harison USA (early 19th century) 2.5m (R. pimpinellifolia hybrid). A very rare and unusual rose with single+ soft yellow blooms tinted salmon. The bush is tall and upright, suckering infrequently. A collector’s prize.”

I have a Harison’s Salmon growing in my garden. Will it grow from cuttings?

I’m going in a similar direction in collecting roses of Canadian origin in Austria/Europe.

After 3 years I’m not definitely sure that Isabella Preston’s Langford and Patricia Macoun both from Sangerhausen are true.

“I have a Harison’s Salmon growing in my garden. Will it grow from cuttings?”

Like with all Rosa spinosissima and Rosa foetida cultivars, it is very difficult to do so. I do know of a Canadian Prairie nurseryman who has very good success rooting 'Hazeldean’cuttings under lights in a greenhouse during early spring. In my opinion this is an amazing accomplishment, because I never thought it could be done.

I also plan on doing limited hybridization of varieties such as Prairie Peace, while its seeds may not be fertile I understand its pollen is.

Prairie Peace is at least self fertile. I grew 30 seedlings from PP seeds after embryo extraction (hope for first flowers this spring, but plants are still small). A high percentage of seeds from PP contain viable embryos, but they seem not to be able to germinate after normal sowing.

So using PP as seed parent may require embryo extraction method.