Can a living thing be a Canadian design? In this series we have profiled Canadian ingenuity in various forms – today, we consider a product of Canadian plant hybridization.
Morden “Parkland” roses have been called “exceptional” for their hardiness, and it is perhaps little wonder that they were developed in the Canadian prairies – specifically, Morden, Manitoba, – which is located in plant hardiness zone 3. The Morden Experimental Farm (which later became the Morden Research Station) was established by the Dominion Government in 1915. The farm originally was used to test crabapples and farm crops, but became best known for its work in ornamentals and specifically, a line of hardy shrub roses. The “Parkland” roses developed in Morden are a Canadian original and have become very popular in gardens across the country.
Beginning in 1962, the “Parkland” roses were developed as hybrids of the native prairie rose, Rosa Arkansana, which although very hardy, had somewhat un-showy single blooms and a weedy habit. Dr Henry Heard Marshall crossed r. arkansana with the less hardy floribunda roses to create over 40 introductions in several genera.
Today, the series includes the evocatively named “Prairie Joy,” “Morden Sunrise,” “Morden Snow Beauty,” “Cuthbert Grant,” “Winnipeg Parks,” and “Hope for Humanity.” One feature of Parkland roses that distinguishes them from other Canadian hardy shrub roses is their tolerance to freezing down to the snow line or the ground. This freezing back keeps these roses more compact, making them particularly suitable for smaller home (and urban) gardens. Parkland roses are hardy to -35°C with only snow as protection, and are disease-resistant, needing minimal spraying, they flower repeatedly throughout the summer, and they exist in a variety of colours and sizes
“Emily Carr” is one cultivar in a related series (Canadian Artists) that is currently registered in Canada under the Plant Breeders Rights Act (PBRA). The PBRA protects hybrids that are new, distinct, uniform and stable. (There is no patent protection in Canada for plants, seeds and rootstocks, which are considered “higher life forms.”) A plant breeders rights application requires a description of the variety and its origins and breeding history. “Emily Carr” was derived from a cross developed in 1982 at the Morden Research Station where it also underwent trials by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2005. It was registered under the PBRA in 2006 and has an 18-year term of protection.
Government sponsored research developed the Parkland rose breeding program. However, hybridization takes a long time, and over time, ornamentals have become a lower priority for government research. The Morden Research Station’s rose program was discontinued in 2010, with the rights to the rose lines being awarded to a private consortium, the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association. Nevertheless, work continues on the Morden rose lines in Vineland, Ontario (south-west of Toronto), including genetic research to develop greater disease resistance.
For further reading, follow these links:
?Hortico’s Parkland Series Roses, http://www.hortico.com/roses/series.asp?cid=2
?“Dr. Henry Heard Marshall,” Manitoba Agricultural Hall of Fame
?“Morden Experimental Farm,” Morden Heritage Series #9,
?“Canadian genetics live on!” Landscape Trades, May 2011,
?“Bloom off rose for Morden breeding program,” Winnipeg Free Press, August 7, 2010,
Summary by: Jennifer Jannuska