The American Rose (Oct. 1974) p. 14
"To Touch a Rainbow"
(Creating New Miniatures)
Ralph S. Moore of Sequoia Nursery

To create a new Miniature rose is to reach out and touch a rainbow. It is the attempt to put together in intricate and complex patterns certain genetic building blocks—to assemble and reassemble these blocks into new combinations and arrangements.

It is no accident that certain new and, hopefully, improved varieties have come about. But there are many and varied determiners which dictate what the finished product will be like. Some gardeners like a rose red, others prefer them pink or yellow or white. Some prefer their roses large, others tiny—and others want their roses in varying sizes between the extremes. Plants may be tall, short, in between—climbers, bushes; upright, spreading.

It is obvious that all these and many other qualities cannot all be put together in a single variety. Thus, we have today the large and often bewildering array of Miniature rose varieties. But we are still reaching out to touch that rainbow.

So how does a professional go about creating new varieties of Miniature roses? He must go again and again to the genetic storehouse of building blocks. Some refer to this as the gene pool. Since basically all this material comes from a limited number of chemical parts the real difference then between any given varieties is the manner or pattern in which these parts are assembled. So like dialing a telephone number, we try to dial a different genetic number—and what surprises we get sometimes!

Breeding a new Miniature rose is much more than taking pollen from variety A and dusting it on variety B. The bee can do this much faster and cheaper than we can—but the bee is just doing what comes naturally. To create a new and different Miniature rose, some sort of plan must be made, at least mentally. We must have some idea of what we want to create and then decide the most likely way to get it. This involves selection of the right parents, growing these parent plants to the right stages for pollenation, etc.

In my own work I have used a wide range of rose material, including several species. Some of the parents I have used—and why—follow:

Rosa wichuraiana a single flowered white rose from Japan. This rose, crossed mainly with Hybrid Perpetual and some Tea rose varieties, produced the hardy Rambler roses which became so popular during the early part of this century. Such varieties as 'Excelsa' and 'Dorothy Perkins' are still around. So R. wichuraiana was used because it is hardy, it is easy to propagate and it has excellent foliage.

Floradora — used mainly for its vigor and color (this rose has R. roxburghii in it) and because it will root easily.

Carolyn Dean — this little climbing rose was the source of excellent bud form and the repeat-flowering, climbing habit of our climbing Miniatures.

Rosa roulettii — a parent of Tom Thumb. I have never used roulettii, but 'Carolyn Dean' crossed with 'Tom Thumb' gave 'Zee' (no longer in existence).

Zee, Magic Wand and Fairy Princess — these have been the keys which helped to create a good part of today's Miniatures.

Oakington Ruby — this Miniature when crossed with 'Floradora' produced a seedling which opened up another whole field in creating new Miniatures. Such varieties as 'Little Buckaroo', 'Dian', 'Janna', 'Windy City', 'Yellow Jewel', and many others go back to 'Oakington Ruby'.

Little Chief — this Miniature is an offspring of 'Cotton Candy' x 'Magic Wand'. It has the hardiness of R. wichuraiana in it, is truly Miniature, and will produce both good pollen and seed. Seed germination is rather poor.

Golden Glow (Brownell) — a large-flowered climber with intense yellow color, sets seed well, roots easily (from R. wichuraiana ancestry).

Little Darling — a good growing plant. Sets seed, transmits elegant bud and flower form as well as wide range of color.

Baccara — this rose has vigor and color. From this we obtained 'Fire Princess', 'Persian Princess', 'Desert Charm' and others. Following down the line with these, especially 'Fire Princess', we are getting some smaller Miniatures in exciting colors.

Sister Therese x Wilhelm — through this combination (plus Miniature) we got such kinds as 'Mona Ruth', 'Eleanor', and 'New Penny'. Both 'Eleanor' and 'New Penny' have passed many desirable qualities to their descendants.

Rumba — an exciting Floribunda which we have only started to use. We feel that 'Rumba' has much to offer, especially colorwise.

Special Seedlings — this is where the secret lies. These are the bridges we use to get to the other side—to transport some very desirable genetic materials to future varieties. Most of these parents will never be introduced—will only be grown on our own place in limited quantity. These will be the mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, of the future Miniatures.

So we select the most desirable parents. We make thousands of carefully planned crosses. We harvest, store, and plant the seeds. We grow and observe and select (we also must consign most of the seedlings to the trash heap!). And finally, on some special day—possibly six to ten years after the seed was planted—we have touched our rainbow and a new Miniature rose is introduced to the world."