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Welcome to the July 2001 edition of my web site! For tips on rose culture, pruning, propagation and history, see "Other resources on this site". To return to this page, click on the "thorn icon" in the margin at left. Articles from the previous months are archived and can be viewed by clicking on the listings in the left margin. Enjoy!

Ralph Moore's Career, Documented On Film!
by Paul Barden

Before we begin, please note that all of the un-named roses illustrated in this article are TEST PLANTS ONLY, and are NOT available at this time! PLEASE DO NOT contact the nursery to inquire about these roses. They must be subjected to extensive testing to determine suitability for commerce. The folks at Sequoia Nursery appreciate your patience. Keep in mind also that the roses shown here are only a small sample of the MANY new varieties being evaluated! There are new Shrub and Miniature roses being introduced annually by Mr. Moore's nursery if you wish to inquire, thank you!

Group photo at Sequoia Nursery, , click to see a larger versionDuring the past year I have been privileged to work with my California friends on a documentary film about Mr. Ralph Moore, one of the greatest rose breeders of our time. Ralph is currently 94 years old and has been hybridizing some of the most innovative roses for over 65 years! We expect that it will be of great service to the Rosarians of the world to have Mr. Moore's history recorded on film. He has been tremendously enthusiastic to share his vast knowledge with us and all rose lovers he has met over the years. We are all grateful for his desire to share all that he has learned through his hard work. One thing Ralph Moore believes is that there should be no "trade secrets", rather, that knowledge should be shared.

The crew of the film project are, from left to right: Kim Rupert: renowned Rosarian, and interviewer/script writer; Carolyn Supinger: Sequoia Nursery's general manager; John Petrula: our cinematographer and film editor; Ralph Moore: Hybridizer and owner of Sequoia Nursery; Mel Hulse: script writer, and assistant director of the San Jose Heritage Rose Garden; Burling Leong: head of propagation at Sequoia. Burling kindly offered to be interviewed giving instruction on various propagation techniques for the film; and Paul Barden: assistant to script, and still photographer.This project would not have happened if it were not for the thoughtful proddings we all received from Mr. Moore's manager, Carolyn Supinger!

Click on the images in this article to view larger, more detailed versions. Simply close the window when you are finished. Enjoy!

If you have ever grown a Miniature Rose, then you have witnessed the years of hard work that Ralph Moore has put into his roses. Almost every Miniature Rose on the market is either bred by Ralph Moore or has a Moore rose in its background. Three of the very first inductees into the Miniature Rose Hall of Fame are by Mr. Moore: 'Magic Carousel', 'Rise 'N' Shine', and 'Beauty Secret', all outstanding varieties. Mr. Moore has been working on hybridizing a spectrum of different and unusual roses since 1927, and Sequoia Nursery was born in 1935, in Visalia California, where he still works and lives. Among other awards he has received in his years, in 1987 Ralph was the recipient of the Dean Hole Medal, given by the Royal National Rose Society, the Society's highest honor!

'Rise N Shine'At left: 'Rise 'N' Shine'.
The historical literature* will tell you that the first hybrids Ralph created were from the Climbing 'Cecile Brunner', and that the first Miniatures used extensively in breeding were 'Tom Thumb' and 'Oakington Ruby'. It was 'Tom Thumb' that sired one of the most useful stepping stones for Ralph: 'Zee' (1940), a climbing miniature with semi-double pink blooms. It was never introduced into commerce, it served as a parent at Sequoia only. So many of his best Miniatures have come out of crosses using 'Zee', which sadly is now extinct. For a more detailed history of the Ralph Moore Miniatures, read my previous document, 'Ralph Moore, King Of Miniature Roses'.

Now, in the year 2001, Mr. Moore is still happily working on his new goals and visions at Sequoia Nursery. Every year he introduces Miniature and Shrub Roses which are always unique. I have known Mr. Moore long enough to know that one of his main goals in breeding new roses is to create plants that grow well and have good shrub form in the garden. I've often heard him say, "Create the bush first, and THEN hang the flowers on it!" It is this philosophy that has defined much of Ralph's work. His roses, whether minis or full-sized shrubs, all have a defined character and shapely appearance in the garden. In my opinion, a good rose is a rose that looks nice when it is NOT in bloom also!

At right is a new striped Rugosa seedling being evaluated for the future.

So, what sorts of things are being developed in Mr. Moore's "laboratory" of roses? I'll show you some of the fascinating roses we saw and filmed this year at Sequoia. Striped roses have long held a fascination for Ralph. In fact, he was instrumental in laying the groundwork from which many of the new striped roses have been developed. ('Fourth Of July', and 'Scentimental' for example) One of the earliest and most useful striped roses bred was 'Stars 'n' Stripes' (1980), a red and white Miniature with 1.5" open blooms. The rose you see here is descended from a parent of 'Stars 'n' Stripes', and is one of the new striped Rugosa roses being tested at the nursery. The blooms you see here are well formed, about 4" across when fully open and have a light fragrance. The photo barely does the rose justice......it is truly spectacular in person!

Orange MossMr. Moore has also had a longtime fascination with the Moss Roses. He has noted in "Modern Moss Roses" that Moss Roses were absent from his Grandmother's garden, and it wasn't until Dorothy Stemler introduced him to them that he became intrigued with them. Work on breeding new Moss Roses began in 1948 when Pedro Dot's Moss Hybrid, 'Golden Moss' was used to pollinate 'Mark Sullivan' to produce what is now referred to as simply "O.M.". (Short for Orange Moss) See photo at left. It is through this hybrid that the Mini Moss 'Lemon Delight', 'Goldmoss', and other orange and yellow Mosses were obtained.

At right is a new climbing Moss Hybrid.Click here for a bigger image!
Also from this period came another pivotal Moss Hybrid, "12-59-10", a cross of 'Pinocchio' X 'William Lobb'. The latter is a purple climbing Centifolia Moss from 1855. "12-59-10" is a very vigorous shrub that will make a huge plant covered in 2.5" nearly single blooms in a bright pinkish purple hue. The buds are very heavily mossed and it blooms in spring only. From this hybrid came the first Mini Moss, 'Fairy Moss' in 1969. Many Miniature and shrub Mosses came in the years to follow. One of the most recent examples of the fabulous Moss Roses being bred at Sequoia Nursery is the rose illustrated at right. This un-named test variety is a climber with mahogany colored thorns and mossing, with large lemon cream colored blooms like an English Rose! This one is truly spectacular!

A new climbing Crested Hybrid!Another of Mr. Moore's pursuits of the past 30 odd years is the creation of repeat blooming Crested Shrub Roses. In 1820, a completely unique rose appeared spontaneously in Switzerland: 'Crested Moss', aka 'Chapeau de Napoleon'. The sepals of this rose have an exaggerated "parsley-like" growth on them, which lends a wonderful frilly look to the buds. Until Ralph Moore took the task to heart, there were no hybrids bred from 'Crested Moss'. It sets no seed, and produces only rare pollen, making the work even more difficult. (If you want more information about this work, read this earlier article.) At this time, there are a number of wonderful Crested Hybrids of Floribunda style being tested at Sequoia Nursery. The rose shown at left is one of the new Crested Roses, in this case a climber. This is also a spectacular rose, with deep red 4" blooms in large clusters.

Crested Sweetheart.....click to see a larger image.One of the named Crested Roses that I grow is called 'Crested Sweetheart', a small climber with the most exquisitely formed OGR style blooms! It has inherited the wonderfully crested sepals of its parent, 'Chapeau de Napoleon' on a more vigorous plant. It has an excellent fragrance, just like its parent, and is in many ways superior. This is one of my favorite Moore roses, and deserves to be more widely grown. If you like 'Chapeau de Napoleon', then you have to see 'Crested Sweetheart'! (Click on the thumbnail to see a larger picture)

Through the many years of hybridizing, a number of unusual roses have been developed, uncluding the one shown at right. This Floribunda style rose has wonderful cream colored blooms with strawberry splashed on the petals, and they turn soft green as they age! an un-named green seedlingIt's a great plant, with bright glossy foliage and big sprays of many 2.5 to 3" blooms. Note: there is another similar hybrid available from Sequoia Nursery called 'Most Unusual Day', with coral red splashed blooms that finish with green edges!

In the 1980's, Jack Harkness worked diligently to create some hybrids with the species Hulthemia persica. (This was once classified as Rosa persica, but is distinct enough to have been placed in its own genus. It is clearly very closely related to Rosa, as it has produced hybrids with Rosa) One of the most well known of the Hulthemia hybrids Harkness bred is 'Tigris', a bright yellow bloom with a red eye at the center. Unfortunately, no progress was made beyond this point in furthering the goal of a yellow rose with a deep red eye. Not until Ralph Moore got ahold of 'Tigris', that is! There Un-named seedlingare some hybrids several generations away from 'Tigris' that Ralph has created, with bright yellow blooms that have an intense deep rusty red halo at the center! See the photo at left. There is still much work to be done before this line of breeding is ready for the market, but the plant shown here gives you an idea of how well the work is coming along.

One of my favorite roses at Sequoia Nursery is this one shown below, right. It is not yet in commerce, but is currently under evaluation. Bred from the McGredy rose, 'Old Master', this seedling has inherited the wonderful "hand painted" petals from its one parent. This Floribunda type rose is a great shrub that grows to about 3.5 feet wide by 3 feet tall, and produces HUGE clusters of 3" to 4" blooms! I have seen this one in bloom at Sequoia several times, now, and it never fails to amaze me how beautiful it is, with its spectacular display of uniquely formed blooms. Frankly, I hope this rose makes its debut into commerce, for it is much too beautiful to remain hidden from the world.

An un-named Floribunda seedlingThere are many, many fascinating roses being created in Ralph Moore's greenhouses, and it's a wonderful thing to be able to see the new hybrids as they are born and mature under Ralph's care. Until the time that some of these new creations have passed the testing phase, we must be content to know that wonderful things are happening at Sequoia Nursery, as you will see when our film project is completed. When will that be? Well, we have only recently finished filming the many hours of interview with Mr. Moore and his staff, and I expect it will be at least 6 months before the editing is completed. At this time, we have chosen to make 2 edits of the documentary: a 2 hour version for those who want a brief introduction to Ralph Moore's work, and a much longer version that will contain much of the technical information Mr. Moore has shared with us about the art and science of rose hybridizing. It is the intention of the group to make the finished film available through the ARS and likely also from Sequoia Nursery directly. Plans for distribution are still very tentative, so PLEASE don't call Sequoia to find out about the film.....you will likely hear about its availability HERE first! Your patience is appreciated.

Special thanks goes to Carolyn Supinger, Mr. Moore's manager at Sequoia......so much of what goes on at Sequoia is your doing, and we all appreciate your perennial kindness and hospitality! Finally, our deepest gratitude to Ralph Moore himself for taking the time to be interviewed for the project. Mr. Moore, your generosity and inspired vision is a gift to us all. Thank you for all the magnificent roses!

Paul Barden,
July, 2001

* There's a very good biography of Ralph Moore in Jack Harkness' The Makers of Heavenly Roses.


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