One of the unrecognized bonuses from growing a number of roses is the frequency of surprises one receives. I've grown the AgCanada rose 'Winnipeg Parks' for several years, originally purchased solely to add to my hardy roses collection, without any real notice of her. She never performed well enough to provide any excitement, nor did so poorly that I was terribly tempted to spade prune her. The latter, of course, is no real recommendation because a rose has to either perform very very poorly for me to give up on it; or alternatively it has to die on its own to rid itself of my tortures.
This year, however, seems to be a prime one for 'Winnipeg Parks'. I first noticed that she looked healthier and more floriferous than normal at the K-State Rose Garden early last week. And then in my own garden she popped out boldly and early this year, refusing to shrink into the scenery, with a bountiful set of flowers in a more brilliant pink than I had yet seen from her. I don't know if it is a response to the drought last year or the colder winter, or some unknown factor, but like a Derby winning horse, this seems to be her year.
'Winnipeg Parks' is a Parkland Series rose bred by Henry Marshall (or Collicutt?) in 1981 and introduced in 1990. Her name commemorates the City of Winnipeg Parks and Recreation Department centennial of 1993, which seems to be a trivial event for such a rose, but there you are. She is officially labeled a deep pink, but her pinkness borders right on red-orange tones, and it has been called both cherry red and raspberry red in some articles (I could agree with the latter). Whatever the color, it really stands out against the dark green, healthy foliage. The mildly double blooms open quickly but hold their color reasonably well, fading only slightly before petal drop, and they have but a slight fragrance. I have not known her to develop hips. She is a small rose, standing at around 2.5 feet tall at 4 years of age in my garden, spreads a bit wider (at 3.5 feet) and I would not call her vigorous by any means. I had a previous 'Winnipeg Park's that suffered along for 4 years and finally died after I moved her in an attempt to provide her more sun. This newer clone seems to be healthier and I must have found the right place for her. She is hardy to zone 2B and although she was rated very resistant to blackspot in the 1998 Montreal Garden Survey, I've seen her get a moderate amount of fungus here. Not enough to spray, mind you, but enough to leave her ankles bare by September.
I think 'Winnipeg Parks' is worthy of holding a shrub rose spot in any garden, but she needs to be in the front of the border due to her small stature, and she needs to get plenty of sun to stay healthy. In the right spot, she repeats often enough during the summer to serve as a bright pinkish-red focal point every month for as long as the warm weather holds. Although I wouldn't have recommended her in years past, I must conclude that she either blossoms at maturity, or she just has a really good year now and again, a year good enough to justify keeping her around for an occasional special surprise.