American Rose Annual (1964) 165-166
A Little Bit of Rose Breeding
F. L. Skinner

Dropmore, Manitoba, Canada

IT HAS been more than 50 years since I started trying to add the hardiness of our wild single roses to the beauty of form and color of the modern garden roses and during that time I have made many combinations and raised many hybrid varieties. Some of these combinations have been more successful than others and have, I believe, helped to advance the day when roses of hybrid tea quality can be grown in the Great Plains area without protection and flower freely from June until September.

Seeing that rose breeding is only a small part of my work with plants (I have also raised lilac, chrysanthemum, Philadelphus, lilies and many other trees, shrubs and flowers), I have not been able to keep as detailed records as are expected to be maintained at public institutions. However, I do have some notes made about the time this work was done and have been blessed with a very good memory concerning plants and some of these may be of interest to those who are also engaged in trying to make good roses more amenable to our climatic conditions.

*Editor's Note: To date we have no other information about this variety. If anyone knows this variety, particularly its parentage, originator and source, please let us know.

One of the earlier combinations I tried was the crossing of Rosa suffulta with the garden roses. I soon found that R. suffulta was a complete failure when used as seed parent, but hybrids of it could be raised when it was used as the male parent. Lately I have been more successful with its more southern relative, 'W. J. Fargo,'* a double rose of good form and clear pink color. Like most hybrid roses where one parent is a species, the hybrids of 'W. J. Fargo' have been slow in reaching the flowering stage, but the two that flowered in 1962 promise to be fertile, so this experiment can be carried through at least another generation. 'W. J. Fargo' accepted the pollen of such varieties as hybrids of the china rose and of R. laxa hybrids, showing a wide range of compatibility.

I have found that hardiness is a recessive character in the hybrids of R. rugosa and much better results are obtainable if hybrids between R. rugosa and such native species as R. acicularis and R. blanda are used, using rugosa as seed parent.

One point should be noted here; when our native roses are used to provide that extra touch of hardiness, so essential to us, the American species such as acicularis, blanda and suffulta, in their pedigree, all inherit a tendency to become infected with rust, a disease that can become almost as serious as blackspot in our area unless held in check by a regular spray program.

R. laxa has shown the ability to transmit more hardiness to its hybrid progeny than R. rugosa. It will also mate with a wider range of other roses and give a higher percentage of fertile hybrids. This is shown not only by my work but by that of Buck and Simonet. Neither R. laxa nor its hybrids seem to be so prone to contract rust as do our native roses and their hybrids.

R. laxa itself often has three bursts of bloom during the summer and I have seen flowers, green fruit and ripe fruit on a bush at the same time. However, this tendency is passed on to only a few hybrids, one which I have thought worthy of naming 'Isabella Skinner' (which continues blooming from June until September, and has good form and color for an everblooming shrub rose). So far most of my hybrids of R. laxa are pale pink and single or semi‑double and an odd one has a touch of cream in the center. In color inheritance I find that both R. laxa and R. rugosa follow the same trend—there is a large percentage of pink shades with a very rare deep velvety red or pure white.

The 'Old Crimson China' transmits much of its tenderness and repeat flowering habit to many of its hybrids. However, I have secured a hybrid of it that has root hardiness and also will mate quite a few other types of roses. The habit of flowering on new wood enables it to recover quickly, even though it kills back almost to the ground, and to flower throughout the summer. One I have named 'Jessie Anderson,' is the result of a cross between an unnamed 'Old Crimson China' hybrid and 'Souvenir d'Alphonse Lavallée,' the hardiest dark red hybrid perpetual I have grown. The plant was potted last winter for propagating. The color is a dark red and the form is a fully double hybrid perpetual shape.