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Never worry about theory as long as the machinery does what it's supposed to do.
Robert A. Heinlein

Explorer Roses

Roses for the Prairies

The explorer series came out of Ag Canada's research stations in Morden, Manitoba. Breeding started inthe 1960's, and roses were released from 1968 to 1998 when our politicians decided to cut the program. I figure that anything that can survive a Manitoba winter has no problem here. Indeed. The listings say, "No protection needed in zone 3" All have good resistance to powdery mildew and blackspot unless noted.

My current rose supplier doesn't have all of them. Indeed, this year (2020) they only have two, John Cabot and John Davis. This doesn't mean I can't get them. But I have to scrounge. If you want one of the others let me know. A year in advance is nice.

Martin Frobisher -- 1968 A hardy rugosa type rose, pale pink, 5-7 feet tall by 5 feet across.

*Jenns Munk -- 1974 * Deep pink, almost red nearly 3 inch flowers. Very thorny. Flowers June through August. Similar size to Martin, 5-7 feet tall by 5 feet across.

Henry Hudson -- 1976 This is a Rugosa seedling. Very floriferous, blooms June to frost. Pink tinted buds open pure white, yellow stamens. Compact. About 3 feet tall. Fragrant.

John Cabot -- 1978 Medium red climbing rose. Canes get about 10 feet tall. Blooms freely in June, July, sporadically until frost. Medium red, 40 petals per blossom. Cold hardiness warning: Only good to about -35 C. Protect and mulch in fall. Will lose upper canes in severe cold snaps in central Alberta.

David Thompson -- 1979 Compact bush rose, 6 feet tall. Lavender/white streaks in red petals. Long blooming season. Hedge candidate.

John Franklin -- 1980 Clear red semi-double rose. fringed petals. Only good to -25 C Not recommended for the prairies.

Champlain -- 1982** Blooms throughout summer and fall. Dark red, Not much scent. Only moderate resistance to blackspot. About 3 feet tall. Like Franklin, not hardy enough for the prairies without special care.

Charles Abanel -- 1982 Ground cover rose -- not quite. Only gets a bit over a foot high and about 3 feet across. Lots of flowers in early summer, then occasional blooms. Low spreading Rugosa rose. Pink flowers.

William Baffin -- 1983 Up to 3 meters tall. Bright pink semi-double flowers. 2.5 to 3" diamber blossoms. Flowers tend to cluster making masses of colour. Hardiest of roses at easily surviving -40C

Henry Kelsey -- 1984 True red hardy climber. Semi-double flowers. Good to -32. Combined with it's climbing nature may be difficult on the prairies.

Alexander MacKenzie -- 1985 tall upright 5 x 3 ft. wide. Deep red. Some twig dieback in zone 3b. In a harsh winter (lots of drying winds) it can die back to snow line even in zone 5.

John Davis -- 1986 Very cold tolerant (-40) Medium pink. Light fragrance. Arching canes 2 meters long. Can be treated as low climber, or trained on a fence.

J. P. Connell 3-4 feet by 5 foot spread. Cream yellow blooms. Intense fragrance. Mostly June blooming. No word on blackspot. Some winterkill below -32C/

Louis Jolliet -- 1990 Abundant bloom, upright bush to low climber. Deep pink lightly fragrant. Hardy to -40C

Captain Samuel Holland -- 1990 -- Pillar type rose, Blooms resemble small hybrid tea roses. No fragrance. trailing branches up to 6 feet. Medium Red. Hardy to -35 without damage.

Simon Faser 1992 First blooms usually single. Later ones have variable numbers of petals. Salmon pink. Compact bush. Some winterkill at -32.

Frontenac -- 1992 Small bush. Semi-double medium pink flowers near continious. Loose form. Not much scent.

George Vancouver --1994 Soft red double blossomes fade to deep pink. Late season bloomer. Hardy to at least -35.

Lambert Closse Almost a miniature rose at 2 x 2 feet. Silvery pink. All summer rose. Some blackspot in humid conditions.

Royal Edward -- 1996 Tiny leaves, low spreading habit. Semi-double pink bloooms. Tested to -30. Unknown status at colder temps.

Nicholas -- 1997 Small clusters semi-double scarlet red flowers. Hardy to -35 Long season bloomer. No scent.

Quadra -- 1997 Deep velvet red flowers. Upright bush. Long season. Hardy to -35.

Marie Victorin -- 1998 Shapely pink buds with orange-yellow highlights. Opens to silvery peach pink and yellow. Some blackspot older leaves humid climates. Good to -35 Nice scent.

William Booth -- 1998 Potential height of 13 feet. Single red blossoms, but lots of them. Blooms until frost. Hardy to at least -40.

De Montarville -- 1998 Semi double deep red buds. Medium pink wehn open. 3 feet high and wide. Winter injury at -30.

... More work needed.


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Sherwood's Forests is located about 75 km southwest of Edmonton, Alberta. Please refer to the map on our Contact page for directions.