Ralph Moore, King of the Miniature Roses!
In the past year, I have enjoyed the privilege of meeting one of the greatest rose breeders, Mr. Ralph Moore. He has owned and operated Sequoia Nursery in Visalia, California for over sixty years. Mr. Moore is considered to be the patron saint of miniature roses, having bred and introduced well over three hundred varieties of miniature and other types of roses through his extensive career. His peers often say that he has almost singlehandedly created the miniature rose industry. Ralph Moore's pioneering work with miniature roses has been instrumental in paving the way for other breeders to participate in creating one of the most important classes of modern roses!
It is generally believed that the miniature rose evolved from one of the Chinese miniatures, Rosa roulettii. Mr. Moore's roses are not bred from R. roulettii, in fact, but from old varieties such as 'Oakington Ruby', 'Tom Thumb', 'Cécile Brünner', and species such as Rosa wichuraiana. Most of the miniatures on the market today are either Ralph Moore's work over the past 63 years, or are descended from his hybrids.
fulfill his desire to create truly new and unusual roses, Ralph Moore
has turned to some of the most unlikely roses for breeding stock....some
were the roses he had grown when he was very young, such as 'Guinee',
the beautiful crimson bloomed climbing Hybrid Tea from 1938, the species
R. wichurana, and R. multiflora, and the tiny 'Oakington
Ruby', a miniature rose that dates back to 1933. It is supposedly
a sport or a chance seedling of R. roulettii, discovered as a
chance occurance in an English Garden by a Mr. Bloom. The color is a
rich scarlet-red, and the plant is quite dwarf....about 12" tall,
and it has tiny leaves that are perfectly in scale with the plant. Even
in modern times, it is still a charming plant with great character.
No fewer than 15 miniatures in Mr. Moore's breeding program are the
direct result of using this rose as a parent! Among these are, 'Centennial
Miss' (1952), 'Candy Pink' (1969), 'Dian' (1957),
'Red Germain' (1975), and 'Westmont' (1958). Most of these
earlier varieties are either crosses using pollen of 'Oakington
Ruby' on the seed parent (R. wichurana X Floradora),
or 'Oakington Ruby' crossed
with itself. If you consult the online database at HelpMeFindRoses,
you will discover that there are literally HUNDREDS of miniatures that
are descended from this tiny red rose!
During one of my visits to Mr. Moore's Nursery, Sequoia Nursery in Visalia, he sold me a seedling from the current seasons breeding work. It had been culled out of the new seedlings that were being evaluated for their market viability. It was a small plant which had one semi double bloom on it at the time, striped light red on white. It didn't look like much at the time, but as you can see from this photo (left), it has become a very nice rose. Mr. Moore said to me one time that many seedling roses have unique and desirable characteristics that will manifest themselves if given time to grow into adult plants. I am very pleased to have this one-of-a-kind hybrid from Mr. Moore! I don't know how big this rose will get, but it has reached a compact 18" tall so far and has bloomed very reliably all season long. I don't know its exact parentage, but many of the striped hybrids from Sequoia have inherited their stripes from the old Hybrid Perpetual, 'Ferdinand Pichard'. To read more about Ralph Moore's work with striped roses, read his article, "Striped Roses Are Here!". (Reprinted with permission of the American Rose Society, 1985)
Over the sixty-plus years of his career, Mr. Moore has developed many different forms of miniature blooms, from open semi-double blooms, perfect singles, to very full doubles and classic Hybrid Tea forms. This beautiful red-pink bloom is one of the newer Sequoia roses, introduce in 1990, named 'Just For You'. It received the 1991 ARS Award for Excellence. 'Just For You' is a compact plant (18") with beautiful glossy foliage, and appears to be quite disease resistant in my garden. The bloom form is beautiful, and they last for a long time in perfect condition.