Ole, Sven, and Lena

As sort of an FYI, I attended a gardening seminar this past Saturday and Kathy Zuzek was one of the featured speakers. She mentioned that Bailey’s Nursery–the introducer of Ole, Sven, and Lena–would no longer be producing and marketing these roses. If you happen to see one and are interested, you should probably pick it up now as it is uncertain where you may be able to obtain one in the future. Hopefully, someone else will pick them up.

It’s a shame they are going out of commerce, they looked to be nice roses. I prefer ‘Ole’ myself. But I could see ‘Sven’ making a decent ‘Baby Faurax’ substitute for Zone 3, and Lena has something of the ‘Ballerina’ look about it.

I would think they’d make a good starting point for hardier Hybrid Musk’s. Perhaps crossing them with something like ‘Morden Sunrise’ or one of the other Parkland or Explorer Series?

Did she mention why Bailey’s was dropping them?

I believe she said that they (Bailey’s) had not had a lot of demand for them. The truth is that many people in the far north are not familiar with polyantha roses as, prior to the introduction of the “Uff Da” roses, about the only poly that survived here (sometimes) was The Fairy and even that was not widely grown. Whenever people see these new roses, it is not uncommon to hear the comment “That’s a rose?”, but people seem enchanted by them. I honestly think the problem with lack of demand stems from this unfamiliarity and over time and with more public exposure, the demand would increase–but it seems that they are not going to wait for that to happen. I think that the initial marketing of many of the new roses that Bailey’s sells tends to be centered around the Twin Cities and this area of people unfamiliar with the polyanthas. I hope they will allow someone else to pick them up as even at low levels of availability, it would be better than having them disappear completely.

It’s a shame they’re not willing to persevere a little more with these, it would be real shame to lose them. But as you said, hopefully someone else can pick them up. They should be recognized for their breeding potential if nothing else.

Do you know if they’re going to keep ‘Sigrid’ going?

I honestly don’t recall if she mentioned Sigrid. Since Sigrid was just released about two years ago, it is possible that they might keep it out for another year or so and see if things improve. I’d have to ask Kathy about that one specifically–maybe David knows as he spoke at the same seminar.

Ole, zone 2b? That’s pretty amazing. I don’t suppose it is recurrent, is it? I’m wondering if anyone further south has experience with it.

Thanks for letting us know, Julie. These are great roses and it’s a shame they can’t give them another season or two for the word of mouth recommendations to start passing from neighbor to neighbor. They get bought up fast at the flower marts near us. I have Ole and Lena, but will have to nab Sven and Sigrid next time I see them. David Zlesak gave me some spare OP Sven seeds last year and I was impressed with the range and quality of seedlings they produced. There were a fair few healthy rebloomers among them in all different shades of white, pink, purple, red, and stippled. They (Ole, Sven, Lena, Sigrid) are generous bloomers, easy to grow, and surprisingly hardy.


Minnesota zone 4

Julie gave a good review of hardy polyanthas in another post. I’ve taken the liberty of quoting the relevant section below.

I can’t speak for the Zone 2B, but they are worth trying in Zone 3B–I have sandy soil and that might make a bit of difference with respect to survival–clay soil is harder on the plant roots in our zone. As I was quoted, they all are reliable rebloomers with the profusion of blooms typical of the polyanthas.

Thanks, Julie. I tend to view roses based on their regional performance, but I admit I occasionally have delusions of creating a rose that will have a broad audience, and the cold-hardy rebloomers tempt me. (Not that I have the budget to purchase, room to grow, nor time to tend that many plants!) I’m not sure but what I saw ‘Candy Oh!’ at our local HD as I was flying through grabbing some other stuff.

Sven and Ole didn’t like the Gulf Coast. I had them both several years ago. First summer, while both were still in pots, I went on vacation for a week in July. When I came back, Ole was dead and Sven nearly so. I revived Sven and kept it for several years. I never got it out of the pot. I always had to keep an eye on Sven. It seemed much thirstier than all my other potted roses and was continually drying out. I finally got rid of it when it developed a large gall. I had a number of seedlings from it in both directions. Nothing noteworthy, and I don’t still have any of them.

Thanks, Mark. Keeping things in their original nursery pots is always a huge chore – they use such fast-draining mixes to avoid water-logging the roots, and I don’t have the automatic irrigation they do!

That exemplifies the reasons for thinking regionally though. In principle, cold-hardiness is pretty meaningless to us.

I remember seeing a survey of “favorite” antique roses and the folks who did the survey noticed extreme regional biases. Of course, it occurred to them, for instance, that northerners weren’t as concerned about rebloom if a plant put on a spectacular show in the spring, whereas southerners had no tolerance for plants that wasted a 9 month growing season. But so many other factors came into play…


Thanks, Mark. Keeping things in their original nursery pots is always a huge chore – they use such fast-draining mixes to avoid water-logging the roots, and I don’t have the automatic irrigation they do!


They weren’t in their original nursery pots. They’d been potted up several times and were in large pots with good potting soil. They’d been treated exactly like the others in my pot ghetto and they were noticeably thirstier. Not sure why.

Some roses are just genetically thirstier than others, probably for the same reasons some are less shade tolerant, more heat tolerant, more cold hardy, etc. I have found Austin’s roses to be generally significantly thirstier than the average HT and floribunda. Part of that can be chalked up to the fact that in my climate the majority demand to be HUGE plants, whether they want to climb or not. Many have largish flowers with MANY petals and that all requires many resources. Choice of root stock doesn’t seem to alter that much, either. I’ve grown many on Huey and many own root and the greater water demands still express themselves.

I just ripped out Charles Austin and Yellow Charles Austin (QUITE a chore!) which had become plants REQUIRING to be at least 8’ tall before they would flower, because the landscraper had planted them too close to the front garden wall which is covered in creeping fig. I know some of the fig roots have come under the wall, but it was keeping the fig from growing into them and their adoration for ripping my flesh and extracting their gallons of blood which became intolerable. They grew vigorously and were very leafy, but required, along with Graham Thomas (hopefully the next to go!) and Heritage, three times the water any other rose in the front requires to flower. They and GT remained fairly healthy even with less water than demanded for their stingy flushes of flower. Heritage was a royal train wreck. It remained about four feet tall and nearly wanted to be a bog plant just to keep leaves on it. Rust, black spot and mildew year round with flowers that only lasted a day or two under the best of conditions. These all had Star Roses tags and were on Huey. All were at least fifteen years old as they’d been installed at the same time by the same landscraper and all had just become totally intolerable.

Mary Rose, Sharifa Asma (horribly virused), Pilgrim (enormous but totally healthy) and three I don’t care enough to figure out what they are, remain with the Thomas and all require more water than any other roses in that area to flower. At least they aren’t as much of a maintenance issue as the two monsters I ripped out, and those remaining stay much healthier than nasty old Heritage with the amount of water I choose to provide them.

Hi Mark,

In other areas such as Texas Sven, Lena, and Ole have done spectacularly in the ground. Maybe with the extreme heat and not as thick leaves as some other roses, being in the ground is part of the key for them to do well. The female parent of Lena is La Marne, a rose that is marginal for hardiness up here, but supposedly a really good polyantha in Texas and other regions of the Gulf.

La Marne is often found in abandoned gardens and cemeteries here in California, too. It is definitely a survivor and can achieve mammoth proportions if left unpruned.

I had all three, I still have Sven and either Lena or Ole.

I think Lena may have died on me just because of location.

Sven is a very good rose. All are very good roses. They should be bred with, A LOT.

Does anyone know if Lena set hips? And has anyone tried growing it’s seeds?


If memory serves me correctly, I seem to recall that Ole, Sven, and Lena all set hips–pretty much every bloom results in a hip. I don’t recall hips on the newest rose, Sigrid. I haven’t tried germinating OP seed from them, but several people on the Forum have mentioned OP seedlings from at least some of them.

They set hips. Quite a bit. I think my seedling ‘Enjouee’ is a Sven seedling. I killed my ‘Sven’ accidentally though by trying to move it. It’s a REALLY nice rose. I love the color and it makes a very nicely shaped shrub.

Lena sets hips too. I put ‘Crepuscule’ pollen on it. Not sure anything came of it but it always makes little hips.

Anyone actually have any rooted cuttings or small plants of ‘Sven’? I would like to replace the one I killed…it’s very easy to work with, something to really try to use for cold hardiness. Having Ole again would be nice, the little plant I got didn’t do well/I abused it.