In spring 2017, the crew at Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens, in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, planted five of Vineland’s new Canadian Shield roses in its rose garden as part of a celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation. Some 4,600 kilometres across the country, in Edmonton, the Landscape Alberta Nursery Trades Association planted 150 Canadian Shield roses on the southwest side of the legislature building just in time for the Canada Day speeches that year. This extremely hardy, disease-resistant repeat bloomer with vivid red blooms and glossy green foliage had been in development for several years, and the timing of its release couldn’t have been better. But beyond the fanfare, as the gardening world quietly slipped into its routine maintenance tasks, how has the iconic rose settled into the landscape?
Canadian Shield (Rosa ‘AAC576’) is the first release in a series of roses called Vineland’s 49th Parallel Collection, developed at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre in Vineland Station, Ontario, as part of Canada’s current national rose program, established in 2010 in partnership with the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association. Vineland is an independent, not-for-profit organization funded in part by the federal and Ontario governments to support innovation in the horticultural industry.
The second rose in the series, Chinook Sunrise (Rosa ‘VLR001’), was unveiled at Canada Blooms in Toronto in March 2019. The roses are available at 700 retailers across the country (see list of sellers at 49throses.com). The third release, ‘Aurora Borealis’, is coming in 2021.
Joel Beatson, CEO of Landscape Alberta, says that, like all plants, Canadian Shield roses need a couple of seasons to settle in and come into their own. Still, he says, out of 150 plants, only one didn’t survive the first season.
“We had some extras in the on-site greenhouse on standby in case some didn’t make it, but in fact only one needed to be replaced,” Beatson says. “They are a beautiful specimen. We’re keen to see them this season after almost two full seasons to establish.”
Iris Hazen, past president of the Greater Toronto Rose and Garden Horticultural Society, says she received a Canadian Shield rose from her grandchildren for Mother’s Day two years ago.
“It’s a very nice small bush so far,” Hazen says. “She bloomed constantly last season, in spite of the heat… I use no chemicals or pesticides. I’m hoping this year Canadian Shield will show her promise, this being her third year in my garden.”
Paula Barton, in Hamilton, Ontario, planted a Canadian Shield rose last year. “It is well ahead of my other roses so far this season,” she says.
Allyn Walsh, also in Hamilton, similarly planted a Canadian Shield rose last year. “I love it,” she says. “It made it through last season without any sign of disease, and in particular no black spot! It bloomed from planting until early December in my Hamilton (Zone 6b) garden. The flowers are a true red without orange tones, with glossy dark green leaves; the plant looks lovely against my putty coloured porch… I am hopeful that I can train it to an espalier form.”
Judith Cox, in Stittsville, Ontario, planted Canadian Shield two years ago as a tribute to a friend who had passed away. “I found it quite hardy and the colour was superb,” she says. “I am looking forward to seeing how it progresses.”
Back at Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens, horticultural manager Karen Achenbach says she has enjoyed the bed of five Canadian Shield roses installed two years ago. “We have found them to be hardy and disease resistant. An easy to care for rose!
“The lovely deep red of the flowers and glossy green foliage have made them a great addition to our collection of over 270 rose cultivars,” she adds. “They are also an important element in our mandate to illustrate the horticultural history of the area, including showcasing Canadian roses.”
Canadian Shield roses in the Canada 150 garden in Edmonton
Landscape Alberta members built a garden on the Alberta Legislature grounds in Edmonton to celebrate Canada 150 in 2017, says Landscape Alberta’s Joel Beatson. The garden featured a central maple leaf-shaped natural stone walled bed that contained 13 rose plants (one for each province and territory) with another 137 roses in beds circling the garden.
More about Vineland’s 49th Parallel Collection
- Roses to inspire our sense of place
- Canadian Shield first in new series of easy-to-grow roses (2018 interview with Amy Bowen at Vineland Research)
- Vineland’s 49th Parallel rose collection website
This article was made possible thanks to sponsorship by Vineland Research and Innovation Centre.