'Morden Centennial'

In my opinion, ‘Morden Centennial’ is the best all round Parkland rose. The shrub has good cold hardiness (excellent crown hardiness in Zone 3) and the large, double, medium pink, fragrant flowers repeat very well, if good nutrition and moisture is supplied to it. Better quality and performance than ‘Morden Belle’, which supposedly replaced it.

For the rose breeder, it’s very fertile as a pistillate parent and the seeds germinate easily.

But only one registered cultivar (‘All the Rage’) has been developed from ‘Morden Centennial’. And I don’t understand why there hasn’t been more. Compare it in this respect to ‘Prairie Princess’, one of its parents, and a similar rose in appearance. It has a great number of descendants.

My work with ‘Morden Centennial’ has been mostly with ‘John Davis’, and this cross produces very good quality seedlings, having very double flowers (‘John Davis’ has great ability to do this).

This year’s crosses with ‘Morden Centennial’ included ‘Armada’, ‘John Davis’, ‘Bill Reid’ and ‘Henry Kelsey’. But what I really want to do is cross this cultivar with ‘Stanwell Perpetual’ to produce repeat blooming roses crown hardy to Zone 3 having great fragrance. I think there is good potential to achieve this goal.


Morden Centennial suffers from what most of the Parkland Series roses suffer from and that’s not good enough disease resistance. I had one in my rose garden for a few years and it performed miserably. It’s moderate hardiness didn’t offset it’s lack of disease resistance so or it’s lack of vigor, so I ended up culling it a few years ago not too much after I culled Morden Blush.

MC may have been used more in breeding progams than you realize, I just think there hasn’t been anything useful to come from it. I used a number of different pollens on MC but not as many as I thought I would, because I culled it before I used it much. I didn’t keep any of the seedlings from the crosses I did with it but have kept one OP seedling of it. It’s a little hardier than MC but the disease resistance about the same. I used it a lot in crosses and I even used Stanwell Perpetual on it. I got a number of seedlings that started out looking good but they just didn’t have good enough disesase resistance and I culled them all.

Morden Centennial suffered from disease in my garden as well so I pulled it.

‘Morden Centennial’ is widely grown in Canadian Zone 2/3 climates, and I’ve grown several shrubs of it over a period of many years. I’ve never seen any disease problems, nor in the seedlings I’ve developed from it.

Good to know that apparently its doesn’t do as well in at least some warmer climates. Of course, it wasn’t bred for these climates, so that always has to be kept in mind.

I grow and use Morden Centennial. In Des Moines, it is very cold hardy (zone 5b) blooms well (if deadheaded) and produces a ton of hips with many seeds in each hip. It does get blackspot like nothing else too, but, I just cross it with the better disease resistant roses I have (mainly Buck and a few really good Brownells) and the disease resistance improves tremendously. The cold hardiness of the seedlings is very good which is why I continue to use this variety in my program - lord knows I don’t want another pink rose. It also does a pretty good job of expressing the genes of the other parent which, in my mind, means it is at least taking that next step forward. Overall, I think the seedlings from MC are very worthwhile.

Hi Paul
I worked with Morden Centemmial rose for some time in the beginning of my hybridizing programme.
MC is very fertile both ways and the seeds germinate readily.
For all the work I’ve done, I got few good seedling that are worth growing on.

Peter, you may think that since the Parkland Series of roses were developed here in Manitoba you would see
them everywhere here. That is not the case. One hospital in my area had a beautiful display bed of MC
put in when they renovated. I watched this bed, in five years it gradually-( forgive the pun) “petered out”.
It might not have helped that the they were cut to the ground every fall and the salty runoff from the walkway
ran into the bed.

They are very few good stands of Morden roses there.
You may be surprise to know that the Explorer Roses seen to do better here in MB.
I switched to the explorers about ten years ago, the results are like night and day.

Peter, you may think that since the Parkland Series of roses were developed here in Manitoba you would see
them everywhere here. That is not the case. One hospital in my area had a beautiful display bed of MC
put in when they renovated. I watched this bed, in five years it gradually-( forgive the pun) “petered out”.
It might not have helped that the they were cut to the ground every fall and the salty runoff from the walkway
ran into the bed.[/quote]

Chuck, how did I get into this?

But since I’ve been mentioned, I’ll say something.

Clearly the early Mordens were developed in a different time and for a particular area, and they do not do as well now in some other areas, especially those with high black spot pressure. Some of the Explorers do not do well here in Charleston, WV. I don’t know what the disease is (it’s not black spot, and does not seem to be either spot anthracnose or cercospora), but beginning about 6 years ago the leaves of John Cabot and William Baffin were gone by mid summer here. Now Wm Baffin (my formerly huge plant) is gone, and John Cabot (also formerly huge) is losing ground. So far, Frontenac (yes, an Explorer) does all right–but so do Adelaide Hoodless and Cuthbert Grant–for now. Who knows shat the future will bring? It’s hard to explain. We know that different strains of black spot have migrated into areas where they did not exist before, and probably some of the strains the various lines were bred to resist have mutated too.

To use (or abuse) your night and day comparison but not assault the plants–I suspect we’re caught in twilight no matter what parents we use.

Peter (the real one)

To be honest I may have been a little harsh on MC. My step daughter and son in law have one on the south side of their garage and it is doing great for them. They only have a few roses around the foundation of their house so there isn’t much disease pressure on it and they also feed and water it a lot as well. Like Andre mentioned, crossing MC with something that is highly disease resistant is the only way to get useful seedlings out of it. I have used other susceptible roses in crosses with very resistant roses and have gotten surprisingly decent offspring from the cross. Maybe if I had used better pollen parents with MC I would have gotten better results.

I have several other Parkland roses; Prairie Joy and Cuthbert Grant. Both of which have better resistance than MC does but neither are very vigorous and don’t produce many flowers. Both are triploids and I’ve only used them as pollen parents. I also have several Explorer roses; John Cabot, Champlain and Frontenac. None of these are good seed parents so they have only been used only as pollen parents as well. But some of my best seedlings have come from them so there wasn’t an incentive to continue using MC in any crosses.

I would have liked to have seen more work crossing the Parkland roses with the Explorer Rosa kordesii ones. I know Morden used ‘Frontenac’ extensively with Parkland breeding lines and was successful with it. But it’s not a typical Rosa kordesii rose in its growth habit and percentage of Rosa kordesii in its pedigree. For example, it has only one-half Rosa kordesii compared to ‘George Vancouver’ and ‘Marie Victorin’. This generally makes a difference in the appearance of the seedlings. Compact habit of a shrub is good, which ‘Frontenac’ produces, but I prefer roses having a graceful growth habit.

While I have concentrated on using the Explorer ‘John Davis’ with ‘Morden Centennial’, I’m going to begin using ‘Champlain’ in an attempt to obtain some deep pinks or light reds. Another interesting combination to obtain a wide variety of colours would be ‘Morden Centennial’ x ‘Marie Victorin’ or the reverse. ‘Marie Victorin’, like ‘Morden Centennial’, is very fertile as a pistillate parent.

I think there is also potential with a Rugosa x ‘Morden Centennial’ breeding program, especially using the Rugosa ‘Schneezwerg’ to obtain progeny having flowers with very good repeat bloom…

‘Morden Centennial’ would be also useful to develop Spinosissima hybrids, using ‘Hazeldean’ and ‘Prairie Peace’, for example. Selections wouldn’t have any commercial value, but they might have value for further breeding. For the ardent rosarian, they likely would be very beautiful in the landscape, and what more can be asked for?

I agree with you Paul that MC X spinossissima hybrids would be a great line to work with (and once my spins start blooming I will be doing just that). What I like about this type of cross is it adds the rebloom gene(s) that I am trying to get into the spins without sacrificing too much of the cold hardiness. If disease resistance ends up somewhere in the middle, I think it is still a good step forward. I plan on taking any spins I get to bloom next year and cross them with all the “Canadians” I grow. I especially want to use them with Quadra (as seed parent) and Frontenac (as pollen parent). Then I have all my Buck roses which might keep disease resistance high as well as cold hardiness for many of them.

I had four successful crosses with MC this year (successful in that the local doe left these four alone). MC X Paloma Blanca should result in some healthy seedlings and I think MC X Curly Pink should too (as well as larger blooms with many petals). I also have MC X 1-72-1hugonis (pollen from Kim) which I have no clue what I’ll get out of it (healthy yellow?) and MC X Dame de Coeur. I had 3 very large nice hips of MC X R.fedtschenkoana that was removed by the deer the night before I was to harvest them. You can imagine my disappointment (and the words that came out of my mouth). I think that would have resulted in some rather nice, if not interesting seedlings. The only successful cross I got with MC as pollen was with Brownell’s pillar rose Eternal Flame (or Pink Pillar). I believe that should produce something worth exploring and I think the seedlings should be pretty healthy too as most seedling from EF are extremely healthy. Warm tones are also expected.

The one thing MC breeds into its seedlings that might give one pause is thorns. The thorns are not big but they tend to be straight and narrow and found in above average numbers.

Quick thoughts:

Morden Centennial basically died of blackspot here in NW Minnesota. I have since planted another one, and it really does have an impressive combination of hardiness and rebloom, but still quite a bit of foliage drop from blackspot.

Stanwell Perpetual here is basically less hardy than MC and has nightmarish thorns. Strong scent if it is able to bloom, but it is dangerous to try to reach in and pick the blossoms and they have an annoying baby powder tone to the scent. I somehow doubt that it will be good at passing on rebloom. (Please forgive me for ranting…SP is one of my favorite roses to dis.) If Andre mentioned that MC has bad thorns, well then…

One thing I noticed years ago when I tried using MC is that it releases its pollen very early. Even some very firm buds had already released pollen.

I’m constantly amazed and incredulous that All The Rage has MC as a seed(?) parent. I sometimes wonder if there has to be some mixup. ATR is so healthy (for me so far, is it for y’all?), and not too hardy.

However, you’ve got me thinking that maybe it would be worth it to revisit MC in a breeding program. Roses that rebloom heavily and have pretty good cane hardiness are hard to come by. Some ideas for crosses (and reciprocal):

MC x Above and Beyond
MC x R. virginiana or R. carolina
MC x Carefree Sunshine
MC x Double KO
Belle Poitevine x MC
Rugosa #3 x MC
L83 x MC

Morden Centennial X John Davis.jpg

I’m surprised you would state ‘Morden Centennial’ is problematic to use in a breeding program because of its “thorns.” That’s not my experience at all. I never give it a thought I’ll have a problem in this respect, and I never have had any. Perhaps it’s the other parent(s) you use, which is the problem.

Now, using ‘Marie Vicorin’ in a breeding program, for example, this would be a potential problem to develop non-viscious progeny. Example, its descendant ‘Cape Diamond’, which in my opinion should never have been introduced. An ordinary pink with sprawly, very prickly canes. What more would one want to keep the neighbour’s dog out of the yard? Still, combining ‘Marie-Victorin’, because of its interesting pedigree, with Spinosissimas, probably would result in progeny having a wide range of pastel colours. But they would be roses only the owner could love (and the neighbour’s dog hating).

The photo is a ‘Morden Centennial’ x ‘John Davis’ seedling. First year flowering. Note the very good form of the flower, which ‘John Davis’ contributes to its progeny as a staminate parent.

Morden Centennial x John Davis should also be quite hardy, Paul.

I remember selling Marie-Victorin for two years way back when before I started breeding roses. Gave up on it because of really weak plants, but perhaps didn’t give it enough of a chance.

I didn’t think MC was overly thorny either. Because I didn’t think MC was that thorny I crossed it with Commander Gillette. But I used CG as the seed parent and all of the seedlings were selfs. I never got around doing the reciprocal cross.

In my garden Stanwell Perpetual is as hardy or a little more so than MC is. It took a few years for SP to get established but once it did it repeat bloomed well. I agree SP is a thorny mess and the canes are thin and lax so MC is the better looking plant. I never crossed SP with MC but I did put SP pollen on an MC OP plant I have. The MC OP plant doesn’t have any better BS resistance than MC does and SP doesn’t have enough to counter the lack in MC OP so the seedlings didn’t have good BS resistance. Coupled with that was the petals lacked substance and drooped early so those seedlings were culled.

Interesting how I keep getting thorny seedlings from Morden Centennial. It is quite possible that the source of my MC seedlings thorns were from the pollen parent. MC itself has a less than average number of thorns and they are not overly large. The thorns on most of these seedlings also do not match MC’s thorns in that they are very straight, long and thin - like needles. My thinking on these seedlings could also be skewed in that the number of MC seedlings I have retained to maturity is not large - about 10-15. The only pollen parent (out of 5) that has been identified was Hot Cocoa, all the others are unknown as the tags were unreadable when harvested. I believe the MC X HC crosses did have some nice thorns on them. It will be interesting to see what the 1-72-1hugonis cross produces since Kim’s plant has remained thornless with the exception of the one branch.

How rose genes express the number, size, and shape of thorns is so interesting to me. It seems so unpredictable. I have noticed that most of my purple roses will significantly reduce the number of thorns in the seedlings when used as seed parents, but when used as pollen parents, there is no effect. Selfs of Basyes thornless R. wichurana will produce only about 25% thornless seedlings, but hybrids of Basyes Thornless (Comander Gillette) almost always produce low to no thorn seedlings. Then there are the roses that sometimes are very thorny and sometimes not at all (Senegal and Therese Bugnet come to mind for this group). All very interesting stuff.

Maybe instead of being a source of thorns, Morden Centennial just does not have the genes to repress the expression of thorns. I’ll have to do a little more work with Morden Centennial using my thorn reducing varieties to see if what I have observed in my MC seedlings is just an anomaly. I am not directly breeding for thornless roses, but if one comes about, I definitely won’t complain.

MC does have the small, straight and narrow prickles in its lineage from Suzanne on its pollen side and R.arkansana on its seed parent side. So it doesn’t surprise me that you’re seeing them in your seedlings.

I don’t fully understand how thorniness/thornlessness works either. I have a thornless R.blanda that I crossed with Marie Pavie and with Showy Pavement. The MP x Rb is thornless but the SP x Rb is not. I crossed these two roses and expected 50% of the seedlings to be thornless as well. But there is a varying amount of prickles on the seedlings and none are thornless, so go figure.