Sunday, June 7, 2015

Strong Survivor

Let us talk now of courage and survival in the face of adversity.  No, I am not even remotely referring to the trials faced by reality tv stars, nor to that of politicians who are in constant need of help to remove their feet from their mouths or other orifices despite their coincidental fortunes donated by special interests.  Let us talk now of 'Survivor', a rose that has earned a place in my garden by sheer tenacity and determination.

'Survivor', also known as 75659-5015, is a gangly, tough, thorny shrub rose of a fabulous, deep red, cluster-flowered semi-double once-blooming form.  If I haven't given you enough adjectives to describe her, let me add she is scentless, resistant to blackspot, has dark-green semi-glossy foliage, forms hips, and occasionally suckers,  She grows to about 4 feet tall with supple canes that sprawl randomly about.  She is also completely cane-hardy here and is said to survive in Zone 3b and lower.  Although I noted she suckers, she will not massively invade a bed like a Gallica rose will, and she is easy to keep under control.

'Survivor' is, without a doubt, the most aptly named rose that I grow.  I grew her first in a garden in town, then moved her via a sucker to my prairie before there was a home on the land.  I later moved a sucker to the second rose bed that I created where she survived for a decade shaded on one side by taller 'Seven Sisters', and another by 'Maidens Blush', with towering 'William Baffin' at her back.  Finally, two years ago, I took pity on her and moved the majority of the bush onto a more sunny spot next to 'Madame Hardy' (recent photo at right) and also placed two suckers into another bed.  Every single one of those roses are still growing, including the lonely cane of shining red flowers placed amidst the prairie grasses where it gets burned almost every year, and, as I noticed last week, a resprout of the rose beneath 'Seven Sisters' (below left).  

'Survivor's parentage is a partial mystery.  I obtained her in the 90's from Robert Osborne's Corn Hill Nursery, where she was originally introduced in 1987. Osborne obtained her labeled as 75659-5015, believed her to be bred by Dr. Svejda and part of, but not introduced with, the Explorer program.  He described the parentage as 'Old Blush' x 'Fru Dagmar Hastrup'.   That origin has been called into question and denied by Dr. Svejda.  'Survivor' is still listed in Modern Roses 12 as bred by Dr. Svejda, but on as bred by Henry Marshall in 1975.  It is likely that she was a sister of Morden #71659501, a cross of 'Adelaide Hoodless' and a seedling descended from 'Crimson Glory', 'Donald Prior', and R. arkansana.  Looking at her, I expect that the latter parentage is correct, because she has many characteristics in common with 'Adelaide Hoodless', although 'Survivor' is much more resistant to blackspot in my garden than Adelaide Hoodless, and she is of less dense form.

Regardless of how she is considered, as an orphan, a cast-off, or an unintended release, 'Survivor' has earned her name and her place on my Kansas prairie.


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