Dr. David C. Zlesak — September 22, 2015

Rosa Above and Beyond™ (‘ZLEEltonStrack’)

Rambling along split rail fences or dramatically reaching up and spilling over arbors or trellises, climbing roses provide a spectacular display in the landscape. Their height can be used as walls to frame garden spaces, or they can serve as attractive accents to stately support structures. Mature climbing roses can easily have in excess of a thousand colorful flowers at once when in full bloom. With so many flowers in peak season, the aroma of climbing roses with even a slight fragrance per individual bloom is easily detected by passersby.

Name: Rosa hybrida (‘ZLEltonStrack’; USPP 24,463)

Trade name: First Editions® Above and Beyond™

Hardiness: Zones 3 to 7

Mature height: Up to 10 to 14 feet; it can be pruned to keep it smaller.

Mature width: Up to 14 feet

Classification: Climbing rose

Landscape use: Colorful, large climbing rose. Train it on an arbor, pillar or trellis, or allow it to grow as a large, free-standing shrub. It makes an attractive tall screen, border or focal point.

Ornamental characteristics: Clusters of orange flower buds open to a profusion of fragrant apricot colored blooms over a few week period in late spring. Sporadic repeat bloom occurs in summer. Vigorous plants have attractive disease-resistant foliage and strong winter hardiness.

Winter conditions in the North are often too harsh for most nationally distributed climbing roses to have canes routinely overwinter without insulation. Since the value of climbing roses is their building size, if they commonly die back to the snowline or crown they may never serve their intended purpose. Fortunately, there is a group of hardier climbing roses in the Explorer® series that northern landscape professionals have relied on for decades (for example, ‘John Cabot’, ‘John Davis’ and ‘William Baffin’). They were bred by Dr. Felicitas Svejda (Agriculture Canada), and her climbers have flowers in shades of pink to red.

Above and Beyond™ (‘ZLEEltonStrack’), part of the First Edition® series, is a new, hardy climbing rose that provides a warm-colored option. Clusters of orange buds open to apricot-colored blooms that can develop soft mauve overtones in cooler weather. I have been breeding roses for adaptation to cold climates for over 30 years, and this hybrid excites me the most out of all my breeding work because it fills a unique niche. Above and Beyond™ germinated in 2001, and by 2003 I knew it was special due to its strong winter hardiness, warm colored flowers, health, strong vigor and sporadic repeat flowering in summer. It also has a pleasant, moderate fragrance. Friends have been successfully growing and enjoying it in Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Wisconsin and western Canada for several years now, and across these sites its hardiness and plant habit have been similar to ‘William Baffin’.

Above and Beyond™ inherited its warm color from its maternal parent (the yellow miniature ‘CURlem’) and its strong hardiness, health and sporadic reflowering from its paternal parent, a cross between Rosa virginiana × R. laxa. The R. virginiana grandparent was collected decades ago by my rose breeding mentor, Elton Strack. Elton collected it while on a fishing trip he took to eastern Canada (the variety name, ‘ZLEEltonStrack’, honors him). Elton helped solidify my love of horticulture and plant breeding when I was a teenager, and he instilled in me the value of incorporating species in a breeding program to expand genetic diversity and find novel seedlings. The R. laxa grandparent is also very hardy and traces back to a collection made by South Dakota Professor N. E. Hansen in Siberia just over a century ago.

Above and Beyond™ is marketed by Bailey Nurseries in their First Editions® program and is available from Bailey Nurseries and First Editions® network growers. Above and Beyond™ roots readily from softwood and semi-hardwood cuttings (propagation is prohibited without a license). It was released just this past spring and has already won awards, including a Retailers’ Choice Award™ at New England Grows. Above and Beyond™ provides a great option for gardeners in especially colder climates looking for a vigorous, healthy, and hardy climbing rose in an unusual color.

Photos courtesy of Dr. David C. Zlesak

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