Hazeldean Rose

Hazeldean Rose: A Rare Segregation - by Percy H. Wright

This article was printed in the Flora Borealis the SPS Newsletter, Vol. 4, No. 1 - March, 1991

My Hazeldean rose came from a cross of the Spinosissima sub-species Rosa Altaica, which is an exceptionally upright and vigorous form that hails from the Altai Mountains in Central Asia. The pollen parent was Persian Yellow, which most rosarians know of as the ancestor of the yellow Hybrid Teas, dubbed as Pernetianas until recent years.

Since the Altai rose blooms a week or more before Persian Yellow, the reason why this particular cross was not made years and years ago is clear. It was a long, long chance that enabled me to make it, almost a fluke, and here is how it happened.

I had moved, in 1938, from the dry prairie of western Saskatchewan to a site in the moist northeast of the province, and wished to carry on the rose-breeding program that had been started in 1932 under the handicap of droughts of the 1930's decade. But by 1939, though I had some of my rose plants (including Altaica) established, I did not have anywhere near all those that I wished to have as pollen providers.

So I wrote a letter to Prof. C.F. Patterson, then head of the Department of Horticulture at the University of Saskatchewan, in the city of Saskatoon, where spring ordinarily opens a week or two weeks earlier than it does in the Carrot River district of the northeast. Prof. Patterson was co-operative, and sent me the buds I had requested, of Persian Yellow. They arrived just at the date when the buds of the Altai rose were opening to flowers. I used the pollen, and got results. I can't be sure, after so many years, that I got more than one hip full of seeds, but I did get at least one.

From this cross sprang at least four plants that I considered, and still consider of value. The first one I named Yellow Altai, which is rather similar to Altaica itself, but has a slightly smaller flower, single, in a tone of yellow. Is is not as hardy as Altaica, but is fertile, bearing lots of seed hips.

The second I named Loch Lomond, and it was fully double, but with its yellow concentrated pretty well in the centre of the flower. I was unlucky with this one, losing it from flooding in a season that had far too much rain.

The third was named Kilwinning, and it was like the preceding, but with a still larger and more double flower. I gave this plant, and the rights in it, to A. J. Porter, nurseryman of Parkside, Saskatchewan, who is still raising and selling plants of it.

For the fourth I chose another Scottish name (since Spinosissimas are commonly known as "Scotch" roses), Hazeldean, a name that will be familiar to those who read the poetry of Robert Burns. Hazeldean was the prize of them all.

It has a flower just one tint less yellow than its pollen parent, but larger and more Tea-like in quality. Just how it happened to have a flower of a quality better than that of either parent I am at a loss to explain, but so it is. Not all the flowers on a plant are of this top quality, some of the less vigorous ones being approximately of the same size and quality as Harison's Yellow, although more double and of a tone of yellow slightly nearer orange than the lemon colour of Harison's Yellow.

Hazeldean is hardy to 50 degrees below zero, except for branches that have happened to make an extra strong growth late in the fall so that the wood is not mature. Its great merit is that it is completely free of the blackspot foliage disease which is such a handicap to Persian Yellow, Austrian Copper, and most of the Pernetianas. It blooms very early in the season, so that 90 percent of its buds open before the rose curculio begins depredations. This feature is of no importance in moist areas, where the curculio appears not to thrive, but is of considerable importance in the Great Plains area, where dry air and warm sun favor the curculio.

Hazeldean is very pollen-fertile, and in some years about 10 percent of its flowers will make hips. I consider it potentially a very valuable ancestor of future roses of yellow tone that will avoid the blackspot to which the Pernetianas are subject. In other words, I am conviced that the work of

J. Pernet-Ducher, who introduced the Soleil D'Or rose (a hybrid Perpetual by Rosa foetida) in 1900, should be repeated, using pollen of Hazeldean instead. Probably half the seedlings in later generations would inherit the susceptibility of Persian Yellow to blackspot, but if the other 50 percent are free of the disease, our objective has been obtained.

I have tried to interest various US nurseries in Hazeldean, but the answer I have gotten so far is that in the USA there is no future for a rose which blooms but once. I do not believe this opinion is fully correct, for the huge "blizzard zone" in the Northern Plains has a climate where any rose that makes a magnificent display, even though it is but once a year, is welcome. Doubtless, however, Hazeldean will never be as popular as it would be if it bloomed continuously as Hybrid Teas and Floribundas do.