Friday, January 4, 2013

A Ruby in the Rough

In a quick, winter-boredom-induced search for roses on which to report, I have identified several Canadian roses that I have yet to mention in this blog.  I intend to rectify this oversight over the next few weeks, and I believe I'll start first with the unusual petals of  'Morden Ruby'.

'Morden Ruby' is a Parkland Series Canadian rose bred by Dr. Henry Marshall in 1964 and introduced in 1977.  It forms a small, well-behaved pink-blend shrub that has occasional repeat bloom throughout the summer.  The 3" diameter cluster-flowered blooms open quickly from ruby-red buds and are fully double with an old-rose form, but they have little or no fragrance.  My twelve-year-old multi-stemmed specimen stays about 3 feet tall and four foot wide and has required absolutely no trimming.  In fact, the bush is certainly not vigorous, but neither does it seem to have much disease or cane dieback, so I can't remember needing to attend to it at all for the past 5-6 years.  The leaves are matte green and fairly blackspot resistant, and the stems turn reddish-brown in winter. Several references mention hips, but I have not seen an appreciable fruit on my bush.  If 'Morden Ruby' has a fault, it is that I rarely notice him unless I make a specific effort to visit it.  This is not a rose that will make an impact in your garden when viewed from afar.

I'm not one to belabor a point (okay, I am, but I'm ignoring all evidence to the contrary), but 'Morden Ruby' would be a little-noticed shrub except for the beautiful and unusual deeper red stippling of the petals that you can see in the picture at the upper left.  I came across a comment in Swedish about this rose that google-translated to "freckles on the cheek", and that phrase describes the bloom nicely.  This is a rose to view up close and personal, where you can examine the perfection of each petal.  He is a pretty thornless rose in character, so you can also get that upclose view easily without danger your life and limb.  A cross of a seedling and the floribunda 'Fire King', 'Morden Ruby' is said to be a sister plant to 'Adelaide Hoodless'.   I believe the stippling may be the result of the R. arkansana heritage of this rose.  Reported to be fully hardy to Zone 2b, I haven't seen any dieback at all here in Kansas since I got the rose established here.

One reference stated that 'Morden Ruby' is a good rose that should be more widely grown, and I agree with that statement, but unfortunately, it will never have the garden impact of Knock Out.  Of course, 'Morden Ruby' has its own internal beauty, but since when has the world taken notice of that?


  1. Zone 2b! Wow! How wonderful that there are roses that can take that kind of cold. Love the "freckles"! It's a very pretty rose, and looks like a beautiful bush.

  2. A lovely rose, up close :-) Not every rose is showy from a distance, some has to be viewed up close and can be every bit as beautiful then. I have some miniature roses you would hardly notice until you are one foot away, but then they take your breath away!


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