Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Canadian Crimson Glory

One of the hardiest, red hybrid-tea-style roses to grow here on the Flint Hills prairie is an older introduction from AgCanada, the bright red rose 'Cuthbert Grant'.  'Cuthbert Grant' is a "Parkland" series Canadian rose, bred at Manitoba, but it was named after a prominent Métis leader who led the victors at the Battle of Seven Oaks and who became an important early figure of the Hudson's Bay company.  

'Cuthbert Grant' was one of the first Canadian roses I grew in Kansas and it remains one of my favorites of that group.  Blooms are cardinal to dark red, with more of a purple-red hue in colder weather, and they fade to a lighter but again more purplish-red hue.  The double blooms (17-25 petals) start as a hybrid-tea type bud and then open relatively quickly to a cupped shape.  I love to experience the strong fragrance of this rose in the garden, but because of the quick opening of the bloom, 'Cuthbert Grant' doesn't last long as a cut rose indoors.  I should disclose that different references list this rose as having strong fragrance to none at all, but my own nose is voting on the strong fragrance side. Blooms come in clusters of 3-9 flowers on long slender stems. This rose is one of the first to bloom in my garden, then it will take a rest and it seems to bloom in several smaller periodic flushes though the summer before producing a second great flowering in the fall.  I wouldn't, in other words, call it a continuous bloomer, but it does produce several flushes over a summer.

'Cuthbert Grant' is extremely resistant to blackspot, powdery mildew and rust.  The Montreal Botanical Garden listed it as being an outstanding variety for disease resistance in a 1998 trial, and I never spray my 'Cuthbert Grant' rose.   It's a medium-tall bush, about 4 to 5 feet tall and 3 feet around as a mature bush in my garden, but in hot climates, it is said to shoot up to over 8 feet.  I noticed one reference on davesgarden.com that suggested the bush has a slight weeping habit, but 'Cuthbert Grant' has only had strong, thick erect canes in my garden.  It is reputed to be hardy to Zone 3 and I can certainly attest that I've never seen winter-induced dieback in Zone 5.  In fact, as I think about it, this rose seems to be unusually resistant to cane dieback or damage at all times of the year compared to modern hybrid teas.

'Cuthbert Grant' is a Hybrid Suffulta (a R. arkansana descendant), a result of crossing 'Assiniboine' (a red Hybrid Suffulta itself) with a 'Crimson Glory' x (Donald Prior X R. arkansana) seedling. He was bred by Henry Marshall in Morden, Manitoba and released in 1967.  I'm assuming the strong fragrance of Cuthbert comes from the 'Crimson Glory' grandparent, since its fragrance has much the tone of that latter rose.

In a nutshell, if you are discouraged by the disease and cold susceptibility of the real 'Crimson Glory', try 'Cuthbert Grant' instead.

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