Modern Hardy Climbers in New England

By KARL P. JONES, Barrington, Rhode Island

Reprinted from the 1949 American Rose Annual  with permission of the American Rose Society



 editor's note.—There is a lot to be said in favor of climbing roses but in many gardens they are almost completely overlooked. Mr. Jones' enthusiastic report should renew interest in them as a group.


THERE is no flowering plant more beautiful than a well-grown, large-flowered climbing rose in full bloom.  In our gardens in Barrington, Rhode Island, my wife and I are successfully growing over a hundred plants, comprising 80 va­rieties. Three or four of these climbers, Aglaia (1896), Gardenia (1899), Mme. Sancy de Parabere (1875), and Zephirine Drouhin (1868), were introduced before the turn of the century, but with few exceptions the remainder were introduced since 1912.

The growing of climbers in our New England climate re­quires patience and perseverance. Most of the hybrid tea roses may be expected to flower the first season, but very few of the hardier climbers will do so. Some of the climbing hybrid teas will flower the first season, but most of these are disappointing, for they either bloom well and refuse to climb, or else grow well but refuse to bloom. An outstanding exception is the glorious Mrs. Whitman Cross, which we have wintered for several years with no more than a single wrapping of silo paper to keep off the winter sun and wind. In contrast is Mercedes Gallart, which we tried three times before we brought it through a winter. The tender canes of Cl. Etoile de Hollande and similar sports can be wintered if the plant is laid down and buried, but the results are hardly worth the effort.

So far as the hardier climbers are concerned, we do not be­lieve that they should be expected to show many blooms until the third season. Copper Glow, Doubloons and Elegance will frequently bloom as high as eight feet the second flowering season if planted in the fall, but the best and strongest-growing yellows, Mrs. Arthur Curtiss James and Golden Pyramid, and the magnificent red Thor, will require three seasons or more to

their best.

Some of the less hardy climbers can be successfully wintered (163) if they are removed from their supports, wrapped with sil paper (a fiber-reinforced, waterproofed paper) and laid dow so that the tips may be covered with earth. This takes them out of the winter wind and provides for less exposure to th winter sun. Rodents can be kept out of the wrapping by add ing a half-dozen moth balls. Even the hardier climbers benefit from this treatment.

Which are the hardiest climbers ? Our conclusion is that this question cannot be definitely answered.   The severe winter of 1947-48 killed only one of our climbers, Hercules. We had some loss of old wood on a few of the setigera hybrids, and a little on two or three of the Wichuraianas, but nothing abnormal. Many of our neighbors have stated that many of their climbers lost most of their wood, except the old multiflora Wichuraiana ramblers, and we heard the same complaint from the New Bed­ford section, where the winter is usually warmer than here in Barrington. Experience has shown us that our climbers winter better after a cool, dry fall when the season's growth has hard­ened before frost; but there must be other factors, else why should the same rose, grown under apparently identical ex­posure conditions, and in much the same sort of soil, winterkill in several gardens, and show little or no damage in another?

Our experience leads us to believe that the Wichuraiana hybrids are generally the hardiest, although after three seasons Jacotte froze to death in a mild winter. The setigera hybrids Buff King, Doubloons, Federation, Meda, and Mercurius have frozen back to 18 inches three times in six years, and Hercules winterkilled after four years. We once had Copper Glow and Elegance freeze back to a couple of feet, and also the too heavily flowered Dr. Burt and Harvest Glow; but practically every other Wichuraiana climber in the garden seems to winter well.

We grow all sorts of roses in the same gardens—climbers, species, teas, and perpetuals. In order to do this successfully! climbers are spaced ten feet apart, trained on eight-foot cedar posts, and out on chains at either side of posts at about seven feet above the ground. (Incidentally, the amount of heat ab­sorbed by the chains does not damage the roses, contrary to some opinions.) In some beds this arrangement permits grow­ing hybrid rugosas or other large shrub roses half way between the posts, with plenty of room for both varieties; in other beds, hybrid teas or hybrid perpetuals can be planted in back of or in front of the line of posts, so that all varieties are displayed to advantage. This type of planting calls for truly vigorous climbers as otherwise the top of the post and the chains look naked. Many of the climbers, particularly the creeper types, are best displayed when the canes are trained at or below eye level. Twenty of our climbers are planted in front of four-foot posts, spaced six feet apart, the roses being trained horizontally so that the colors are interlaced. The so-called "moderate" growth climbers have little place in either scheme.

In the case of the presently marketed repeat-blooming Wi-churaiana climbers, we have been successful with only one, New Dawn. We have not been able to secure a repeat-blooming Blaze or Orange Everglow, although we have recently heard that such are in existence.

When we started our collection of climbers, the only reason­ably comprehensive information about them was contained in G. A. Stevens' Climbing Roses, published in 1933. We list our cumbers below in the hope that this information from our records may prove helpful to others. Where easy to do so, we have included name of originator, date of introduction, type of flower, and basic hybrid. Where we list a climber as hardy, we speak only for our own gardens and our own experience.


Barbier & Co., France.  Large-flowered Wichuraiana hybrids. Albertine.  1921. Vigorous; 10 ft.; hardy; semi-double; coppery pink; excel­lent; some August re-bloom. Francois Poisson. 1902. Vigorous; 15 ft.; hardy; large; double; white tinged

yellow; good. Jacotte. 1920. Vigorous; 15 ft.; tender; large; semi-double; coppery yellow;


Primevere. 1929. Vigorous; 15 ft.; hardy; very double; yellow; dead petals .     nmst be stripped to look well.

M-H. Horvath, Mentor, Ohio. Setigera hybrids (except Thor). Buff King. 1939. Few canes; few flowers; amber to buff; fair. l>oubloons. 1934. Vigorous; 10 ft.; medium hardy; large; double; golden

yellow; must be stripped to look well after first bloom; susceptible to black-

spot; good. Federation. 1938. Vigorous; 15 ft.; medium hardy; large; semi-double; pink

flowers like R. damascena; some intermittent blooms if stripped of dead

flowers and hips; good, ttercules. 1938. Pink; failed after four years' struggle.

£r" *®*k Very large; double; shrimp-pink; only 4 ft. in five years; some

better fall bloom; not satisfactory.


Mercurius.  1940.  Very large; double; light coral-pink but only 6 ft in r years; some better fall bloom; better than Meda but not good enough

Thor. 1940. Hybrid Xanthina. Vigorous; 15 ft.; hardy; tremendous, douKl dark crimson flowers; the best Horvath rose and the best hardy red dimber


Dr r. J. H. Nicolas, Newark, N. Y. Large-flowered climbers.           •

Dr. J. H. Nicolas. 1940. 4 ft. in five years; large, rose-pink flowers that b 11 in hot weather; medium hardy; some recurrent bloom.

June Morn.  1939.  Same growth as Dr. J. H. Nicolas but bicolored bloom

King Midas.  1941. A few yellow flowers on a poor plant.


M. R. Jacobus, Ridgefield, N. J. Wichuraiana hybrids.

Dream Girl. 1944. Vigorous; 5 ft.; hardy; large, double, coral-pink; repeats-
good only as short pillar.    '

Inspiration.  1946.  Vigorous; 5 ft.; hardy; same as Dream Girl, but darker pink.


Dr. Walter Van Fleet, Glenn Dale, Md. Large-flowered Wichuraiana hybrids All the following Van Fleet hybrids are hardy and can be grown to 15 ft and over.

Alida Lovett. 1905. Large; pink; fewer flowers than Mary Wallace but more petals; good.

American Pillar.   1902.  Single; open; carmine with white centers; rampant

growth; late bloom; good.

Bess Lovett.  1915.  Large; cup-shaped; double; crimson; few blooms; good. Dr. W. Van Fleet.  1910. Light pink to white; its everblooming sport New

Dawn is so much better that this is obsolete. Glenn Dale.  1927. Exquisitely perfect, small, lemon-yellow buds opening to

surprisingly large, white flowers; good.

Mary Lovett. 1915. Quantities of large, white, very double blooms; rather interesting.

Mary Wallace. 1924. Tremendous quantities of large, semi-double, rose-pink blooms; deserves its popularity.

New Dawn. 1930. We like to credit this rose to Dr. Van Fleet, for after all it is a sport of his rose; after the first heavy June flowering, it blooms a bit every month up to frost.


Luther Burbank, California. Large-flowered Wichuraiana (?) hybrids. Blushing Beauty.  1934. Vigorous; 10 ft.; medium hardy; shell-pink; fair. Copper Climber.  1938. Vigorous; 10 ft.; coppery salmon edged pink; black-spots badly.

Golden Sunset. 1934. Vigorous; 10 ft.; large, double, yellow; this latter ap­pears to be the best of the three.


Mr. and Mrs. Walter D. Brownell, Little Compton, Rhode Island. Large-flowered Wichuraiana hybrids. All the Brownell climbers are hardy and ^disease free, and most of them will grow to 15 ft. or more if not "whacked." Apricot Glow.  1936.  Very double, large, apricot blooms; thick canes grow

horizontally; excellent on low support, but difficult to train vertically. Brownell Yellow Rambler.   1942.   Very double, yellow; blooms similar to

Primevere, but twice the size; good. ...
Carpet of Gold. 1939. Masses of 3-in., semi-double, yellow blooms on trailing
plant; best grown on low supports; good.                                               . ,  <
Climbing Break O'Day.   1944.   Large, double, light flesh to orange-tmtea
blooms; good.                                                                                                ;ts
Copper Glow.   1940.   Large, double, copper-colored blooms; excelieni, i
sport, Orange Everglow, appears to be more rugged and to survive at
5 degrees more cold.

Coral Creeper. 1938. Large, semi-double, coral shaded to light pink blooms;

old petals shake off cleanly in light breeze; large horizontal canes; excellent

creeper or climber. pr. Butt. 1942. Masses of large, very double, reddish orange blooms, which

fade in hot sun; very beautiful if kept stripped; in this plant and Harvest

Glow the sexual factor predominates, and they bloom so heavily as to

weaken the plant; both best planted where they get only morning sun. Elegance-  1838.  Lemon-yellow buds nearly as perfect as its parent, Glenn

Dale, but ten times as large; magnificent 6-in., yellow tinted to white

blooms on long stems; truly elegant. Frederick S. Peck.  1938.  Large, semi-double, deep grenadine-pink blooms;

very excellent creeper or climber; blooms on second-year shoots; drops ripe

petals cleanly.

Golden Glow. 1937. Large, cadmium-yellow blooms on excellent plant; plant next to a good red and intermingle the canes; each accentuates the


Golden Orange Climber. 1937. Five-in., crinkly-petaled, orange-scarlet blooms; not very floriferous; a collector's prize.

Golden Pyramid. 1939. Blooms similar to Golden Climber; advertised as a 6-ft. pillar; ours has a main cane lj^ in. in diameter, and is trained up a lighting pole to over 20 ft.; most unusual for this climate; excellent.

Harvest Glow. 1941. Large, very double, bicolor; tremendously floriferous; characteristics like Dr. Burt.

Little Compton Creeper. 1938. Single, deep rose-pink flowers in open clust­ers; a good rose for contrast.

Magic Carpet. 1941. Large, semi-double, yellow tinted orange to scarlet; characteristics like Coral Creeper; good.

Moon Glow.  1937. Large, very double; rich cream; abundant bloom; good.

Mrs. Arthur Curtiss James (Golden Climber). 1933. Large, sunflower-yellow blooms on long stems; takes three years to establish, but is then a tremen­dous plant.

Orange Everglow. 1942. All the characteristics of Copper Glow, plus greater hardiness; so far ours have refused to repeat.

Pearly White.  1942. Large, semi-double, white blooms on long stems; good.

White Gold.  1943. Large, double, white with yellow centers; excellent.



 Aglaia.   1896.   Multiflora; vigorous; 15 ft.; hardy; very double flowers in

profuse clusters; often sold as Yellow Rambler, which it is not. Bloomfield Courage.  1925.  Rambler-Wichuraiana; vigorous; 15 ft.; hardy;

abundant, single, blackish crimson flowers; particularly good interlaced

with yellows. Chaplin's Pink Climber.  1928.  Vigorous; 15 ft.; medium hardy; abundant,

large, semi-double, pink blooms; poor foliage; fair. Chastity.   1924.   CHP.   Vigorous; 10 ft; hardy; semi-double, snow-white

blooms; good. Chevy Chase. 1939. Rambler-Soulieana; vigorous; 15 ft.; hardy; abundant,

small, very double, dark crimson flowers; mildew free; excellent addition

to the few available reds. Climbing American Beauty. 1909. LC.-Wichuraiana; vigorous; 15 ft.; hardy;

double red. The flowers blue quickly and the petals cling; must be stripped

continually to look well; useful because it is red. Coralie. 1919. LC.-Wichuraiana; vigorous; 15 ft.; hardy; double, coral-red;

excellent; slightly susceptible to blackspot.

Dr. Huey.   1920.   LC.-Wichuraiana; vigorous; 15 ft.; hardy; 2-in.,
double, crimson flowers in clusters; worthwhile in spite of its tenacious gr'
on dead and blackened petals.          "

Flash.   1938. LC.; vigorous; 6 ft.; large, double, scarlet-red flowers with yellow reverse; grows like a hybrid perpetual; medium hardy; flowers turn purple too quickly; should not be classed as a climber.

Gerbe Rose. 1904. LC.-Wichuraiana; vigorous; 15 ft.; hardy, double, phjj.
fair; useful only because of its tendency to recurrent bloom.      '

Ile De France. 1922. Rambler-Wichuraiana; vigorous; 15 ft.; hardy; semi-double, scarlet flowers with white centers; similar to American Pillar; fair

Mercedes Gallart. 1932. CHT.; vigorous; 10 ft.; large, double, purplish pink-disagreeable color unless by itself or near yellows; difficult to winter.

Miss Flora Mitten. 1913. LC.-Wichuraiana (?); vigorous; hardy; small pink flowers; not very good.

Mme. Sancy de Parabere. 1875. Alpina; vigorous; 10 ft.; large, semi-double light violet-rose; thornless; hardy; first climber to bloom; excellent.

Mrs. Whitman Cross. 1943. CHT.; vigorous; 10 ft.; large, semi-double; open orange-apricot with pink shading; excellent in all weathers; repeats all season; hardier than its class; flowers similar to Albertine but better.

Nubian.   1937. CHP.; vigorous; 6 ft.; dark red; does not climb any more than Henry Nevard and numerous other Perpetuals.

Paul's Lemon Pillar. 1915. CHT.-Wichuraiana; vigorous; 10 ft.; medium hardy; large, pale yellow blooms; good.

Paul's Scarlet Climber. 1916. LC.-Wichuraiana (?); vigorous; 15 ft.; large, scarlet, semi-double flowers which fade slowly; excellent; next to the best hardy red climber and perhaps easiest to grow.

Royal Scarlet Hybrid. 1926. LC.; similar in growth characteristics to Paul's Scarlet, but smaller and deeper colored flowers; excellent.

Ruth Alexander. 1937. LC.-Wichuraiana; long pointed buds, reddish orange opening to enormous, semi-double, yellow to orange blooms with large waxy petals; a sparse bloomer and not very vigorous, but so unusual as to make it a collector's item.

Star of Persia. 1919-Hyb. Foetida; vigorous and hardy, but not worth grow­ing except as a curiosity; the flowers have a most disagreeable odor; black-spots terribly.

Zephirine Drouhin. 1868. Bourbon; vigorous; 6 ft.; large, semi-double, rose-red; thornless; recurrent blooming; fair.





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