Canadian Rose Annual pp. 106-107 (1966)
Non-Fading in Roses
PERCY H. WRIGHT
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

ONE of the frustrating features of the program to originate hardy roses for the prairie provinces and other northern parts of Canada is the difficulty of getting away from a strong tendency to fade in the sun, a tendency which is undoubtedly inherited from our wild roses. If we could find a hardy rose of any ancestry which escapes this unfortunate feature the path to progress would be greatly smoothed.

R. blanda is one of our good native species, marked, in mans strains, by complete freedom from thorns. This thornlessness is a reason for using it in our breeding program. R. Macounii, apparently not too distant from this species in relationship, is thorny and less erect, but transmits more hardiness to its descendants than does R. blanda. R. suffulta, one of the really remarkable rose species of the world, combining hardiness, fall blooming of a kind, and dwarfness, has obvious attractions for the rose breeder. But all are poor for holding their color. They not only fade in the sun but also in the shade.

R. acicularis, another native, is the hardiest rose in the world, ranging northward as far as Atlavik at the mouth of the Mackenzie river. Its flowers have usually more color than the flowers of the three species already described, but they, fade too. My rose breeding experiences have not included it often enough to state whether or not its fading propensity is transmitted to hybrid seedlings.

But there is another and very distinct Canadian wild rose, R. nitida (shiny leaved), which makes its home in parts of the Maritimes. It has distinct possibilities for transmitting non-fading. It seems that not every pollen cell of R. nitida carries the gene, for even its first generation hybrids may be only moderately good for retaining their petal color. Or perhaps the feature of non-fading is a chance result of the interaction of a gene from R. nitida with a gene from some other source.

In any event, one of my unexpected and pleasing new roses came out of a cross between 'Hansa', the well-known Rugosa hybrid, and R. nitida, in the second or third generation from the original cross. The little rose which showed the interesting quality of non-fading even in bright sun was given the name of 'Quadroon'. It is of the color of a 'Hansa' petal which you unfold from a bud still closed, a rich, deep crimson.

'Quadroon' has few merits but this one. It is small flowered, rather sparse in flower production, and has short, slender, and weak bud stems. In addition the plant is a weak grower. Just the same, it should make a good parent of future roses. Suppose it were backcrossed to 'Hansa', and the result was a 'Hansa' immune to fading!

Or, for that matter, suppose it transmitted its non-fading to R. Macounii, or R. blanda, or R. Acicularis, or even to some strain of R. rubrifolia or one of the Scotch roses.

Whether it is worth while to try to use its pollen on tender roses is less certain. Being a diploid, it would not combine with the tetraploids of HTs and Floribundas to produce more than a partially fertile line. It would, of course, have a chance of transmitting considerable hardiness and resistance to leaf diseases, and probably dwarfness too.

These tender roses, the HTs and Floribuudas, already possess varieties which have both strong petal colors and non-fading. The one in mind at the moment is 'Donald Prior', which combines an attractive, brilliant color with a remarkable capacity to hold this color. 'Donald Prior has been used successfully to originate one of the most interesting semi-hardy Canadian roses, the 'Assiniboine Rose' which comes from the efforts of H. Marshall of the Brandon Experimental Farm. But why is 'Donald Prior' not more often used by other breeders of modem roses?