'Prairie Dawn' - A versatile cultivar for breeding

In 1959 the Morden Agriculture Canada Research Station introduced ‘Prairie Dawn’, the first high quality, cold hardy (Zone 3) modern shrub rose developed in Canada. It has attractive, semi-double, salmon-pink flowers that repeat their bloom. Although the rose breeder at Modern at the time was H.F. (Bert) Harp, it was likely his predecessor William Godfrey who developed this cultivar. Godfrey had previously developed several Rosa spinisissima cultivars, including ‘Prairie Youth’, the pistillate parent of ‘Prairie Dawn’.

‘Prairie Dawn’ is unusual for a cold hardy cultivar because it has Hybrid Tea cultivars in its pedigree. Normally that would negate tolerance to very cold temperatures. However, both sides of the parents pedigree include Rosa spinosissima altaica and this probably accounts for the cultivar’s exceptional cold hardiness.

There isn’t much emphasis on increasing the cold hardiness in Hybrid Tea breeding programs. But for breeders having this goal, a shot of ‘Prairie Dawn’ might be valuable to use. Because this cultivar has Hybrid Tea cultivars in its pedigree, this can only be a good thing when crossing with Hybrid Teas to obtain good quality progeny.

‘Prairie Dawn’ is classified as a shub rose but in reality it is a Pillar rose that can reach 3 metres in cold (Zone 4) climates. In warmer climates, of course, it will grow taller and probably would be a Climber. Therefore, this cultivar would have potential to use in Climber rose breeding programs. I would be inclined to use it with Rosa kordesii Climber cultivars, especially the Explorers. Like the Explorer Rosa kordesii cultivars, ‘Prairie Dawn’ has essentially ‘New Dawn’ in its pedigree (the cultivar that sported to ‘New Dawn’). ‘New Dawn’, of course, has been one of the most valuable cultivars to use in breeding programs, so having it on both sides in the pedigree of rose cultivars crossed with each other can only be a positive move.

Finally, since the shrub characteristics are predominantly Rosa spinosissima this cultivar could produce some interesting Rosa spinosissima selections. Especially if it was combined with yellow cultivars. However, since ‘Prairie Dawn’ is not a good pistillate parent and yellow Rosa spinosissima cultivars are also not great pistillate parents, a fertile pistillate parent breeding line ideally should be developed. Perhaps it could be done by crossing Rosa spinosissima with cultivars like ‘Maigold’, Suzanne’ or J5. A long term project but the results could produce some exceptionally beautiful and fragrant cultivars.

I wonder why Dr. Griffith Buck didn’t use ‘Prairie Dawn’ in his breeding programs. To me, that would have been an ideal cultivar to use for the goals he had.

I just got Prairie Dawn, Armada, Pearl Drift, Seaspray, Yvonne Rabier and R. Kordesii to establish a breeding line with Darlow’s Enigma, Home Run and Lynnie. I noticed this morning Armada has quite a bit of Powdery Mildew. Is this unusual for Armada? I am rethinking using it because of this. I was going to cross R. kordesii X (Darlow’s Enigma X Home Run) and then cross that with Armada but I think because of the powdery mildew I will use Prairie Dawn instead. I was going to use this cross to use with Hybrid Teas. In my reasearch I found that when R. Wichurana was used on only one side of breeding that is was a lot more susceptable to disease than when R. Wichurana was used on both sides so I will make sure that all my crosses will end up with two doses of R. wichurana plus several other species. I already have several Darlow’s enigma X Lynnie seedlings which are fertile and so far very disease resistant and have over 100 hips on Darlow from Home Run. I am really impressed with Seaspray and will use it to get some very disease resistant and beautiful Florabundas or small shrubs. Pearl Drift and Yvonne Rabier I will probably use with tea roses to create a new line of disease resistant teas. I know Pearl Drift is hard to work with and will be expermenting with it until I use it. I am retired and am really enjoying trying to create disease resistant roses and probably dreaming too much.


I have germinated many Prairie Dawn open pollinated seeds over the years.

Normally I only give a number to a seedling when I use it in hybridizing. I have two numbered Prairie Dawn seedlings (#239 and #240), see the link below.


I cannot locate any “kept” crosses involving #239 or #240 in my records.

Link: http://home.neo.rr.com/kuska/seedling%20numbers.htm

I’ve used Armada the past few seasons. It can develop mildew on the pedical. It’s gives primarily mid-pink, coral pink and white descendants. Pearl Drift mildewed badly here and I got rid of it for that reason. Home Run is settting hips with virtually everything I put it on.

It is Robert??! That’s great. I bought it this spring. I compared it with the Knockout series at a nursery today. Home Run looks superior on an aesthetic level. I planned on trying Opening Night X Home Run but if it works as a seed parent, too, then I may think of news ideas as well. Maybe I’ll put Pride of England on it… or maybe Hot Cocoa! I dunno.

That sucks about PEarl Drift. I have Climbing Pearl Drift. I like it. It doesnt eat the fence like most climbers… but it refuses to work on anything in breeding.

Home Run appears to be incredibly fertile with tetraploids. Jim said he used used it with great success last year. I can see why. It’s hard to believe it’s triploid but then my banksia hybrids are triploid and very fertile too.

None of it makes sense but I don’t suppose we should worry about it as long as it works. I do wonder which sets of genes are being transferred.

It would be interesting to find out what ploidy types Home Run is producing. Maybe David can tell us?

I just sent David pollen for study. I’m looking forward to hearing what he has to say. I might include his conclusions in an article eventually.

Yes, Pearl Drift mildewed terribly here. There seems little point in using it when other cleaner options for incorporating bracteata are available.

I meant to say I just sent David Banksia hybrid pollen, not ‘Home Run’ pollen. Thanks


I wasn’t able to open the link regarding your open pollinated ‘Prairie Dawn’ selections. In my experience ‘Prairie Dawn’ doesn’t accept foreign pollen readily, so your selections may be self pollinated. However, ‘Prairie Youth’ is quite fertile as a pistillate parent.


Try this link below–the http:// was doubled.

Link: home.neo.rr.com/kuska/seedling%20numbers.htm