Canadian Rose Annual pp. 59-61 (1956)
Roses for Difficult Climates
Dr. F. L. Skinner

Thirty years ago very few of the Old Roses were readily available in Canada and those obtainable were hard to propagate on their own roots and none too hardy when grown on other stocks.

I had tried such varieties as were available in the trade but it was not until I had secured Rosa gallica grandiflora, with its rich red, semi-double flowers, that I had an Old Rose of sufficient hardiness to flower every year without protection other than the winter's snowfall. Then a friend in the Province of Quebec sent me some plants of an Old Rose under the name of "Chamcook" (it had been growing in a garden in Chamcook since before 1840), and another under the name of "Grannie's Rose". Chamcook is quite a dwarf variety that is usually covered with snow in winter and, once established, can be counted on to flower every summer in Manitoba. The flowers are deep pink in colour, globular in shape, and held quite erect. The Grannie Rose is much taller and though that portion above the snow ususally kills back still it blooms freely every summer, the flowers being a clear pink in colour, semidouble and borne in clusters. Both these roses are very fragrant.

The hardiness of these three roses led me to think that others of similar habit might also prove hardy in Manitoba, and when the opportunity arose, I obtained plants and scions of quite a collection of the dwarf growing varieties of the Old Roses. These have now been out of doors without protection in my garden for the past five years and the following varieties can be relied on to flower quite freely with no other protection than that which the winter snow provides. The names used will be those under which the plants came to me but the nomenclature of many of these Old Roses is rather confused.

Anais Segales. This is said to be a gallica variety, very double, light rose red in colour and very fragrant. It does quite well on its own roots and is not likely to grow more than two feet tall with us.

Belle Isis. Another gallica variety, this also is very dwarf with us. The pale soft pink flowers are fully double and quite fragrant. A dainty and very distinct little Rose that is a favourite with all who have seen it.

Marcel Bourgouin. A richly coloured Rose of purplish-red with fully double flowers on a bush that seldom exceeds eighteen inches in height with us. The flowers are quite velvety in texture and it sets seed freely. I have been using this Rose quite freely in my breeding work as the seed usually ripens out of doors.

Gallica officinalis. A very free flowering shrub with large, semi-double blooms of good shape that are quite fragrant and of a deep rose colour. This is also known as "The Apothecary's Rose".

Duchesse de Verneuil. This is one of the most reliable of the named Moss Roses at Dropmore. Rather a stiff upright bush with vivid deep pink flowers and the usual Moss Rose fragrance.

La Noblesse. In its foliage this resembles some of the alba Roses and it is more than likely that it is closely allied to them, although usually classified as a member of the Centifolia (Provence) group. The leaves are large and have the grayish cast common to the alba varieties; the fully double flowers are pale pink with a little deeper colour in the centre and the fragrance is much like that of Maiden's Blush. A little taller growing than some and flowers more freely if given a little protection.

Chapeau de Napoleon. Sometimes called the "Crested Moss" or "Cristata", holds its head more erect than the old Rosa centifolia and seems to be more reliable with me than the latter. The flowers have the same colour, the same fullydouble cabbage form, and the same rich fragrance.

Duchesse de Buccleugh, though usually listed as a gallica variety, seems to me to be nearer the centifolia type. The leaves are large, the flowers fully double and very large, and the fragrance that of the old cabbage roses. This will grow into a much larger shrub than most of the others mentioned and will, therefore, suffer more winter injury, that portion of the bush that has been protected by snow will flower quite freely.

Mme. Hardy with its pure white, well-formed, fully double flowers is one of the loveliest of the Old Roses. Unfortunately, it is rather a strong growing shrub and to get it to flower at all well it is necessary in severe climates to bend down the branches so that the first snow will cover them. It is usually assigned to the damascena group.

Raubritter is said to be a hybrid with gallica and canina in its parentage. It is a low bush with somewhat trailing branches, that in June are covered with clear pink, globular flowers in quite large clusters. These flowers ore very fragrant and remain in good condition for well over a week. This is one of the loveliest of roses and its trailing habit makes it very easy to give it the little bit of protection that is necessary to bring the wood through the winter alive to the tips.

With one or two exceptions the Roses mentioned will ripen seeds in most seasons in Manitoba and should, therefore, be of great value to the Rose breeder who wishes to raise varieties that have both hardiness and quality.

There are two hybrids of my own which by reasons of their fragrance, form and hardiness make them fit companions for the Old Roses. Both these varieties have in their pedigree R. rugosa and one of our native Roses. Wasagaming has very large flowers that are fully double, like the Cabbage Roses in colour, form and fragrance and it blooms with great freedom during the month of June; the other variety, Will Alderman, has more rugosa-like foliage. In flower form and colouring it resembles more closely the Hybrid Perpetuols and it continues to bloom throughout the summer. The colour is a deep rose pink.