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Roses From the North

Contributed by John Barry, Master Gardener


Thinking about growing roses? How about roses that are winter hardy, disease resistant, have a full range of colors, repeat their  blooms, are fragrant, can be used as hedges, as  climbers or stay compact. Also, since they are so tough and independent they would prefer not to be sprayed.


Roses like this do exist and come from Canada. These explorer roses generally fall into two categories: either Rosa rugosa hybrids or hybrids that use Rosa kordesii. The Rosa kordesii crosses can grow into very vigorous shrubs and can be used as climbers. These roses are listed as the "Canadian explorer series". They were so named by their breeders in the hope that they would bring the same toughness and hardiness as their namesakes. Here are some of these explorers that I have grown with some success:



Martin Frobisher
Martin Forbisher- 5x4, blush pink(strawberry), semi-double, clean foliage. Has an open habit but does not finish it's blooms well. Probably my favorite.
Jens Munk
Jens Munk-5x5 ,a Rugosa hybrid, medium pink, semi-double, very fragrant 
Henry Hudson-- 4x3, white ,semi-double, compact plant, does not finish well, fragrant. Unfortunately the beetles love this guy

Willian Baffin
William Baffin--bright pink, semi-double, very vigorous and hardy. Needs to be fed well to perform at his best. Can be used as a climber.
Henry Kelsey
Henry Kelsey--Kordesii hybrid. Dark red semi-double flowers. A climber. Good bloomer.
There are many more of these explorers which I’m sure will perform just as well as the ones named here. Aside from the Japanese beetles, these roses come as close to perfect as a  rose grower can ask for. So if you are thinking of roses try a couple of these guys. If for nothing else the names are cool.


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