American Rose Magazine, March-April 1949, p. 197
Breeding for Hardiness
F. L. Skinner
Dropmore, Manitoba, Canada
Until quite recently the rose usually sent out as Rosa laxa was a variety of R. canina, one not quite hardy in the Great Plains region of this continent. This is probably the reason why the true R. laxa has been so long neglected by American rose breeders. The true R. laxa (of Retz.) is a native of Turkestan and Soongaria and is a strong-growing bush from five to seven feet high and well armed with stout, recurved spines; its flowers are white, very freely produced late in June in clusters of three to five and continuing in smaller numbers until September. It is absolutely hardy at Dropmore in Manitoba, and at the Federal Horticultural Field Station, Cheyenne, Wyoming, where so few roses are really happy, it seems quite thrifty.
I have found that R. laxa will mate readily with quite a number of other rose types and unlike R. rugosa, many of whose hybrids are very tender, I find that R. laxa seems to be able to transmit much of its own hardiness to its hybrid offspring.
During the past summer, instead of using the R. laxa hybrids as seed parents, I used their pollen on a great variety of other roses, including such diverse forms as R. canina, R. centifolia, R. Maximowicziana Jackii; and hybrids of R. Helena and succeeded in securing a considerable quantity of apparently viable seeds.
Some of the first hybrids of R. laxa are quite handsome shrubs with good foliage and fairly large flowers in white, cream and clear pink shades that are hard to get in really hardy roses.
The forms of R. Helena and R. Maximowicziana Jackii which I used to mate with the R. laxa hybrids are much hardier here than either R. multiflora or R. Wichuraiana, and if R. laxa can transmit some of its hardiness to the seedlings of these, as it has to its hybrids with other roses, it is possible that we may eventually have climbing roses that will thrive on the Great Plains with little more protection than a good covering of snow.
One of the great needs of these Plains is a race of hardy roses with deep red flowers of good quality that do not become purple as they fade. One of our hardiest roses with flowers that are a good red color is R. gallica grandiflora; without any other protection than the snow this rose usually gives a very good show of its very bright red, semi-double flowers. Using pollen of R. gallica grandiflora on a hybrid between R. rugosa and R. blanda, I secured some roses that are semi-double and have retained most of the bright color of R. gallica grandiflora. Then by using pollen of the hybrids of R. gallica grandiflora on a red Hybrid Perpetual and Donald Prior, I have secured viable seeds which are now starting to germinate; possibly this line of breeding may eventually give us a race of root hardy red roses that will flower on the new wood and be suitable for general cultivation throughout this region.