List customization using the above LIST OPTIONS feature is an advanced feature available to premium-membership members and sponsor listings.
The Rose….My Favorite Flowering Shrub
By Walter Schowalter
The Prairie Garden, 1968 p. 84
Published by the Winnipeg Horticultural Society
Reproduced here with permission from ‘The Prairie Garden’ Committee
Once the flowering almonds and the crabapples are out of bloom, and the lilacs and spireas have faded, most people are content to forget about flowering shrubs until next spring. Why not plant some hardy roses and extend the season until heavy fall frosts?
Oh, I know there are those who consider anything not a hybrid tea as a wild rose, not fit to grow. What is wrong with growing a wild rose?
Perhaps the most striking flowering shrubs I have ever seen were some 8-foot specimens of single Altai rose blooming in the town of Sylvan Lake, Alberta.
Worried about snout beetles? A program of spraying with DDT will not provide all the answers, but it will work marvels. If you have wild roses growing near, it is more practical to spray them than attempt to eradicate the patch.
Are some of your favorites not quite hardy? It is a simple matter to bend over a bush in the fall, and anchor it with a log or a rock so that the snow can drift over it. Pruning? After getting rid of suckers and dead wood, remove over-age shoots at ground level. Simple, isn’t it?
The June bloomers probably make the greatest show. Double white Altai starts the season with a bush full of fluffy snowballs. If only it did not produce such a super-abundance of suckers! I have my eye on Beauty of Dropmore as a possible replacement. The flowers are almost of Hybrid Tea type. Then there is that 3-foot mound known as Burnet, or Scotch White reminding one of a bridal bouquet.
There is a real need for better yellows. The gorgeous, golden Persian Yellow flourishes on a miserable bush. Harison’s Yellow makes a much better bush, but it is only sulphur yellow. Scotch yellow is a nice primrose yellow, but the flowers are not as good as the others. Percy Wright has been working on the problem and I must try some of his better yellows.
No hardy red quite compares with Alika, or Gallica grandiflora. The semi-single light scarlet flowers flaming against the dark green foliage are a sight not to be forgotten. A very reliable red is Kamschatka, a once blooming Rugosa of Hansa type but with smaller and duller foliage.
The queen of the pinks is undoubtedly Betty Bland, a tall and slender June bride. The bright red canes and berries add something to the winter landscape as well. Too bad its suckering habit is so persistent. Wasagaming is an exceptionally beautifully formed rose, though its coloring leaves something to be desired, and the bush tends to flop. For color contrast be sure to plant a red leaf rose, Rosa rubrifolia, a giant which can reach the height of nine feet. This one may kill back some winters, but as the tiny flowers are not very noticeable that shouldn’t matter too much.
Hansa is still the favorite repeat-bloomer, and rightly so. Nevertheless, I feel that the variety has been overplanted to the point of monotony in some places, and in a dry season the color fades to an unattractive magenta. Mrs. Anthony Waterer is even closer to purple but has a deeper shade than Hansa. Therese Bugnet combines the height and red stems of Betty Bland with the everblooming habit of Hansa. I am very fond of Will Alderman. Its rose pink blossoms are almost of Hybrid Perpetual type, and they keep coming all summer. Attractive glossy foliage helps to round out its list of virtues. The pure fresh pink of Prairie Dawn, together with its distinctive break from the usual Rugosa type, make this one a welcome addition to prairie gardens.
If you want something different, plant the Grootendorst roses. These look more like carnations than roses, and they come in reds, pinks, and whites. They are not as hardy as the above types, but as they bloom heavily on new wood that is nothing to worry about.
So far I haven’t grown any really satisfactory climbing roses. Two which bloom on new wood and are hardier than the average Hybrid Tea are Red Dawn and Kordes Red. Both are nice roses, but they will never climb for me.
The cabbage and other “old” rose types have not proved too successful. Most of them tend to scorch or ball in our climate. We need varieties with heavier and hardier petals.
Among the newer roses two deserve special mention. Robert Erskine’s Beauty of Leafland is the nearest I have seen to a Hybrid Tea on a perfectly hardy bush. The form is perfect, and the cream and pink coloring exquisite, but it will need more testing. Isabel Skinner may well be the first of a race of hardy everblooming bedding roses. Considering that this is only one quarter hardy shrub its hardiness is unbelievable. Of course, it is only an ordinary pink in color, and the flower reminds one of an old-fashioned double poppy. All the same, this is a major breakthrough and we may expect to see better roses of the same breeding.
Another strain of hardier high quality roses is being produced by Robert Simonet. I am greatly impressed by Red Clusters, a seedling of his Red Dawn by a hardy variety.
For those who have not had too much luck with hybrid teas I recommend the Hybrid Perpetuals. Frau Karl Druskchki and Captain Hayward have survived here for years. The Brownell Sub-Zero roses are not as long-lived, but came through vigorously without much winter cover, and they bloom well under adverse conditions. Curly Pink and Queen of the Lakes are two of the best selections, and all of the group are worth trying.
[Note: the use of DDT was banned in the U.S. in 1972]
1950 Rose Breeding Project
note "Drumheller" refers to tall wild rose found growing near Drumheller, Alberta Canada
2004 - Stettler, Alberta Canada,
Walter was 88 years old when this note was written.
"The winter was a bad one. First, it was too dry. The girls watered my patch late in the fall, but I think they missed the Redbrook raspberries. We had some light snows, but they melted as fast as they fell. Then it did turn cold, and with my broken wrist I was not able to apply much protection. We finally did get some snow, but by now it was too late.
I was able to get a bit of chicken wire, which meant the rabbits spared my Evans cherry. But they moved onto my Honeyqueen raspberries, which meant we are not having many fruits this year. Redbrook killed back to the ground, therefore no crop this year. Dinkum, the Australian variety, has been too late for this area, and so son Tim dug them and took them to relatives at Creston, B.C. We shall see. I left a few canes of Red River, but have found that it is not worth it. There is a tremendous crop coming on the new canes. Annual crop raspberries first on the end of the new canes. The first fruits are large and good, but soon the cluster becomes crowded. We did a bit of breeding of annual caned raspberries at Brooks, but didn’t come up with anything useful.
The roots of Carnival which Ken and Ann Owens gave me last fall showed signs of life, but refused to make root.
I don’t think I’ll bother planting hybrid teas again. I had been led to expect that the Dreams and Love and Peace were hardier than the older ones. But in spite of being banked with earth, Love and Peace didn’t make it, and Scarlet Dream did come through with one shoot. But Champlain and Morden Sunrise, planted right beside them, didn’t make it either. That should not have happened! If I were doing this properly I should have replicated trials. But space is a problem, and as I have said before, energy is an increasing problem every year. Scarlet Dream did make a few blooms, but they were insignificant.
Octagonal rose bed
Before I arrived at Stettler, someone had laid out an octagonal rose bed, framed with wooden ties. There were 6 Hansa, one F.J. Grootendort, one Prairie Dawn, and one Therese Bugnet. The winter of 2003-2004 was a bad one. The Therese Bugnet and Prairie Dawn came through in reasonably good shape, but all Hansa and the Grootendorst killed to the ground. If I had more strength I would have dug out most of them. But I bought a heavy duty lopper, and removed all the dead wood. A nice surprise – all came back, and bloomed beautifully. Hansa has one bad fault – is very subject to gall insects. Grootendorst did well too – the little fringed blossoms make it well worth growing. Prairie Dawn too is very beautiful, bit it has one bad fault – the whole crop grows near the top of the plant. If it is to be used, it should be planted behind some lower growing varieties.
Halkirk After my son bought a farm east of Halkirk, he found that the original owner had planted a tall growing wild rose from the badlands along the Battle River. This had been planted at only one foot of an arch. And had draped itself over the top. I had no tapeline, but I would say it would have measured about 15 feet. The blossoms are smaller, and cupped like other acicularis. Ed gave me two roots, and now I am anxious to see how they do.
Beauty of Leafland was the only Erskine selection I brought to Stettler. It grows 6 feet tall, is completely hardy, made a tremendous crop of buds. But because of the wet weather I dug it out and gave it to one of my daughters. The blossoms are exceptionally beautiful.
George Will and Will Alderman are the only two Skinner selections I still grow. George Will has been very hardy and floriferous. I have found it useful for breeding. Will Alderman killed to the ground, but it came back and bloomed heavily until the fall frost cut it down.
Nowadays there are lots of hardy red roses, but when I started out, the only reasonably hardy red was Rosa gallica grandiflora. I crossed it with George Will, but I did not have much luck. The only one I still have is Wilbur. It is only semi-double, with fringed petals. The first blossoms are only bright pink. The second crop surprised me this year by being bright, dark pink.
I no longer grow Skinner’s Betty Bland. It is a very hardy once-blooming rose, semi-double, two toned pink, very attractive. I tried producing a double by crossing with George Will. Amy is indeed very hardy, a sturdy bush six feet tall, and very double. But it blooms only once, like its parents, and it is only a single toned light pink.
Back in 1962, Percy Wright sent me 46 open pollinated Ross Rambler seedlings to grow out. Ross Rambler seems to be a variety of Rosa alba blanda. The original selection was grown by Norman Ross of Indian Head. This selection grew 26 feet tall. But when other growers tried growing it, it would never reach more than half that height. Any I have seen myself, if they were genuine, never surpassed 9 feet. Percy Wright sent me a root, and I was able to give him a start in one he lost. My specimen never thrived, and I finally got rid of it.
But my seedlings produced quite a variety of blossoms, mostly single, semi-double and pale pink to white. I saved half a dozen, numbering them as they were selected. If I were doing it again I’d have grown out the lot, to see whether any would climb. I had lots of room on the farm.
Those showing promise: RR1 – 4 feet tall, producing masses of fairly double attractive pink roses through the season. The original selection bloomed only once. RR3 – the leaves show hybridizing with rugosa. A sturdy bush growing 8 feet tall, producing masses of double 4 inch deep rose colored blossoms. The bush has been once blooming the past two years, but one I gave my son Tim has produced a good second crop. From which I would guess that Ross Rambler and its seedlings have variable characteristics. RR14 is another rugosa hybrid whose blossoms open almost hybrid T shape. It produces a healthy second crop. Its main fault is that the flowers are very poor keepers.
I have finally got a start in that old standard yellow, Persian Yellow. Very nice form and color but it doesn’t stand abuse as well as its seedling Harison’s Yellow. I have seen a few plants of the Yellow Rose of Texas around town, but haven’t been able to secure a plant. It is often found on abandoned farmsteads. I like Percy Wrights’ Single Yellow Altai – hardy, low growing, and quite a bright yellow. His Kilwinning also gives a good account of itself – hardy and spreading, good form, but only a creamy yellow. I also have Topaz Jewel, a repeat blooming yellow rugosa hybrid, I shall need a few more years before I can rate it. During the fall I was able to procure a plant of Austrian Yellow. The small single yellow promises to be as satisfactory as its copper orange relative Austrian Copper.
Probably the earliest white is Double White Altai. It is absolutely hardy, has a nice double white flower, but is could be a weed on account of its suckering propensity. Last spring I was able to get a plant of Marie Bugnet – a nice double white, repeat blooming. I was also able to procure Starry Night – a small single white and Morden Snowbeauty – a spectacular single white. Time will tell how these stand up. Not all roses with “snow” in their name are white. Snow Pavement is a dense knee high bush – and the flowers are pale lavender.
Notes from Aug 18th.
Prairie Joy – a Morden production from before the Parkland series. Has been wonderful. A nice double pink.
Assiniboine – Red – Fine first crop. Another crop coming on new canes.
The Hunter – Red. First crop showy, low canes. Second crop on tall new canes.