For many gardeners living in cold climates, there are no better roses than those of the Explorer series developed by Agriculture Canada. These roses, which bear the names of Canadian explorers, like John Cabot and Henry Hudson, are not only wildly popular in Canada, but also in the United States and Europe. After all, what’s not to like? They flower abundantly, are tough and disease resistant, and, most importantly, cold hardy. In fact all the Explorer roses will grow in zone 3 without protection, some even in zone 2, and that is exceptional among roses.
The Explorer series is however complete: after 26 introductions, there will be no new ones. But a new series has taken its place: the Canadian Artist series. Developed from the Explorer rose gene pool with the help of some of the breeders of the original series, including Claude Richer-Leclerc and Campbell Davidson, these new hybrids bear the names of Canadian artists and artwork. And a brand new rose has been added to the series for 2016: ‘Oscar Peterson’.
Oscar Peterson, 1925 to 2007, was born in Montreal. He became one of the most influential jazz pianists and composers of his time and was often called the Maharaja of the keyboard. He accompanied the greatest singers of his generation, including Billie Holliday and Ella Fitzgerald, played thousands of concerts, and produced dozens of records over a nearly 60-year career. His music is remains popular to this day.
The rose ‘Oscar Peterson’ bears large semi-double flowers that are cream or even pink in bud, but pure white when they open, with a central boss of yellow stamens. There is no noticeable fragrance. They are “self-cleaning”, that is to say, the petals drop off neatly after flowering and therefore no clean-up is necessary. They are produced in clusters at the branch tips, not only at the beginning of the season, but throughout the summer. The plant reblooms well even if you don’t remove the spent flowers.
‘Oscar Peterson’ is a shrub rose, with upright or slightly spreading stems. It doesn’t sucker. It can reach 3 to 6 feet (90 to 180 cm) in height and up to 4 feet (125 cm) in diameter. It makes a wonderful showing all on its own, but also makes an excellent hedge. Its shiny leaves are highly disease-resistant. And of course, as to be expected from Canadian Artist rose, it is hardy to zone 3.
The ‘Oscar Peterson’ rose: to try it is to love it.