Thursday, August 30, 2012

Morden Centennial

Somewhere out there in the gardens of the world, someone else MUST be growing the AgCanada offering 'Morden Centennial', but information on this rose seems to be difficult to obtain, with few commenters on the normal sites.  I've looked in a number of places, and seen links to many others that are currently unavailable, but the real value of 'Morden Centennial' seems to be a very large secret (until I reveal it to you below!)  A wonderful website at the University of Minnesota does place 'Morden Centennial' in its list of roses "recommended for low maintenance landscapes," but,f you'll pardon my digression, perhaps the most useful chart on that web page is the chart of roses that were NOT recommended.  The comment section of the second list detailed why each rose was not recommended, and was most interesting because they confirmed my impression, for 'Morden Fireglow' for instance, that it was a blackspot magnet, but also because the authors tossed out the Grootendorst roses for "lack of fragrance".  Do all roses HAVE to have fragrance?  No one seems to care that our fall garden standout Crape Myrtles or Rose of Sharon are very fragrant, do they?
'Morden Centennial' is a medium or bright pink Shrub rose, with fair, but not exceptional repeat bloom.  It was bred by Henry H. Marshall in 1972, and released in the AgCanada Parkland series in 1980, just in time for the centennial of the city of Morden, Manitoba, founded in 1882.  The mildly-fragrant blooms are large and double, of about 40 petals, and often cluster-flowered on small stems, but they have the drawback of going quickly from bud to completely open form.  The foliage is dark green and semi-glossy, and it seems pretty resistant to blackspot here in my climate.  The bush form is vase-shaped and 3-4 foot tall, with stiff, thick canes and moderately-wicked thorns.  'Morden Centennial' is an offspring of a complex cross, with heritage from 'Prairie Princess', 'R. arkansana', 'Assiniboine', 'White Bouquet', and 'J.W. Fargo' in its gene pool.  'Morden Centennial' is rated hardy to zone 2B, but I read an entry from a Minnesota cabin in Zone 3 that stated the plants didn't do well over several winters in Zone 3, but did better when transplanted to a Zone 4 residence.  I've never seen winter kill of any kind on 'Morden Centennial' here in Kansas. 
I would not dispute that 'Morden Centennial' puts on a nice garden display during peak bloom, but the repeat blooms are sporadic enough that I wouldn't put it front and center in a small garden.  The great secret about 'Morden Centennial', though, is its fabulous contribution to the winter garden.  If you are not a fanatical dead-header (as I am not), this rose puts on numerous large bright orange hips to brighten up the winter garden in a display that will match any of the winter hollies or viburnums.  I'm sorry that my picture, at the right, is not taken from a garden covered in snow, but truly, the bush is covered with large orange balls that can be seen from across the garden.   Those hips are almost 3/4ths inch across and they get ever more bright red-orange as winter goes on.  This rose ornaments itself for Christmas, so you won't have to.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Prof. Roush,

    Since I live 15 minutes from the Minnesota border I have practically memorized the information the University of Minnesota provides concerning roses in zones 4 and colder.

    I regret to inform you that your post contains an error. All roses listed as not recommended for a low maintenance are not recommended for 2 reasons: hardiness and disease susceptability. Fragrance is not a concern. The comment section is just that, merely added info about the rose from their experience growing it in Minnesota.

    I myself do exclude most roses without scent, but that is because fragrance is a strong concern of mine in my relatively small garden. If one can only have a few roses, it is too disappointing to put nose to rose fruitlessly.

    Your blog has been so helpful to me as I am planning my rose garden because so many places show only the bloom and neglect the shrub form and winter interest like colored canes or prominent hips. You are performing a huge service to me, and to anyone else seeking more info about roses.

    I was sad to see you have been rezoned to 6 because that underscores for me that my roses will never look like yours. :(
    Harsh winters at this zone break make a big difference in growing roses. Also, your roses are receiving such wonderful strong doses of SUN!

    So grow on, and I will enjoy vicariously :)


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