This year I have acquired the Spinosissima hybrid 'Suzanne' for breeding purposes. Bred by F. L. Skinner in 1950, this is generally considered to be an F2 hybrid of ('Stanwell Perpetual' X R. laxa). It is a tetraploid, which is what you would expect, given that both parents are tetraploids.
'Suzanne' has played a significant role in the breeding of the Canadian Explorer series of roses, contributing both disease resistance and Winter hardiness. The key hybrid in creating the Explorer roses was a seedling by Robert Simonet of 'Red Dawn' X 'Suzanne', with deep pink semi double blooms. Ian Ogilvie and Felicitas Svejda at Morden and AgCan took this hybrid on for breeding and in combination with R. kordesii' and others, created the Explorers. 'John Davis', 'William Baffin' and 'Champlain' all include 'Suzanne' in their pedigree.
All of these Explorers are fine roses, but the question is, what else can 'Suzanne' offer us? I have done some preliminary work in yellow using the fertile triploid 'Golden Angel' crossed with 'John Davis' and obtained some buffs and soft yellows that appear to be fertile (have set open pollinated seed). The next step is to cross the best of these yellows with each other to intensify the yellow (hopefully) and then start working 'Suzanne' into the mix. With this in mind, I have also a selection of Spinosissima hybrids this year that are 'Condoleezza' X 'William III', from which might come some non-pink hues if I'm lucky. I will select from these seedlings next year when they bloom and incorporate these with 'Suzanne' and the buff colored 'John Davis' hybrids. 'Condoleezza' has shown itself capable of producing clear yellows and peachy tints in breeding, so I am hopeful something of this sort might appear.
I think the Hybrid Spinosissimas are very beautiful and valuable landscape-friendly shrubs that should be explored in breeding to expand their color range while retaining their hardiness and disease resistance. In a decade or so, I just might have made some progress in this area, with repeat bloom thrown in as well!
'Suzanne' on HMF