The Canadian Rose Annual 1985 pp. 23-26
MINIATURE ROSES
Ralph Moore - USA

To really know the rose of your garden today, one should have a sweep of rose history. How did the roses that we know and grow today, come about? Briefly, all roses, including miniatures, came from wild roses. That is the way God made the rose in the first place. Still today, a single, five-petalled rose, in its simplicity of form and colour, can be a delight. The double forms of roses were found and cultivated, possibly because they were different. And we are still looking for the new, the different and the novel in the rose.

In the background of most roses cultivated today, are a parade of the genes from the roses of yesterday. Among these roots are the Bourbons, Chinas, Centifolias, Damasks, Hybrid Perpetuals, Teas, Polyanthas and others. Numerous species have been brought into the blood lines of the rose by breeders. Among them are multiflora, wichuriana, rugosa, bracteata and others. Just to trace the history and ancestry of a modern rose back through history can be an eyeopener. Unfortunately, many are now only names, as the roses themselves have been lost.

It is interesting to note that each class or type of rose held sway in the public fancy for a number of years. Each rising for a time, often over many years, before interest waned, only to be succeeded by other varieties and types. For example, at one time there were hundreds of hybrid perpetuals listed in nursery catalogues of the day. But now, one has to search for the few kinds that are left. The Chinas suffered the same fate, as did their successors, the teas. The tea roses was thought to have first arrived in England from China in the early 1800s. A number of varieties were then developed from seedlings. Beauregard's 'Safrano' (1839) is thought to be the first rose originating from controlled hand pollination. My grandmother had it in her garden, as did my mother, and now we're making some crosses with it. So, we dip back into history and we have some tea-miniature crosses.

After 'Safrano', there were many others. Among these, 'Catherine Mermet' (1869), 'Madame Bellecot', 'Papa Gontier' (1882), another one we're using in our breeding to get "mini-hybrid teas." Between 1821 and 1948, when the last recorded tea was introduced, 274 raisers are credited with a total of 1388 varieties of tea roses. Today, only a few of these are left. Will the hybrid teas and the minis see the same fate?

Each new class or variety is created to fulfill a need or a desire. What do we want in our roses of tomorrow? In citing the story of the rise and fall of the tea rose, I do not infer that this class is or was in any way inferior or less desirable than our modern roses. But I do suggest that nothing is static. Even the best of today's roses will give way to other varieties and types for tomorrow. In my lifetime, I have seen the rise and development of our beloved miniatures. You might say that I've been midwife at the birth of many varieties, that have made the present world of miniatures possible. Thus in 50 years, from 'Tom Thumb' to the present, the development of miniature roses, as we know it, has been accomplished. So, before we take a look into the crystal ball, let's reflect where we are now, and how we got there.

My introduction to miniature roses came in 1936, when I acquired a plant of Rosa roulettii. Both de Vinck in Holland and Pedro Dot in Spain had made crosses using this first miniature rose. Next, I obtained cuttings of 'Oakington Ruby' and made crosses between it and 'Floradora', which was a relatively new import. That is the rose that Walter Lammerts later used to create 'Queen Elizabeth'. So, many of your miniatures are akin to 'Queen Elizabeth'. From this cross I obtained an upright growing plant with small dark red flowers, which burned terribly in the sun. It did not set seed, but it would make some pollen.

In the meantime, I had crossed Rosa wichuraiana with 'Floradora', and from 50+ seedlings, I selected one plant, known as 04719. This rambler type rose became the key link in today's miniature roses. When it was crossed with the above red seedling of 'Oakington Ruby' x 'Floradora', a series of seedlings were born. One of the very first ones was 'Dian'. And, out of that came 'Little Buckaroo', 'Westmont', 'Red Germain', and others. Out of 'Westmont' came 'Magic Carrousel', 'Over the Rainbow', and 'Little Girl', etc. 'Little Buckaroo' crosses have produced several popular miniature varieties. And out of 'Red Germain' came the great yellow rose, 'Rise n' Shine'.

Today we stand on the threshold of tomorrow. We can survey an astonishing array of miniatures in all colours known to the rose. All this material is waiting, yes begging, for those breeders willing to take a chance. But we must also ask the question "Is all this accomplishment a culmination or is it a new tool?" Yes, we will have many more beautiful new miniatures, but will we be just stirring the same old pot? Today, many of the new miniatures are just a repeat of many already being grown. The same is true of the hybrid teas and the floribundas. I believe that we, as rose breeders, have a powerful tool in the best of today's miniature roses. Not just to make more miniature roses, but by careful and daring crosses, to remake the whole world of roses. Such an opportunity has never existed before. In general, the miniature is more hardy than most hybrid tea or floribunda varieties. Miniatures tend to take on many forms, climbers, shrubs, ground covers, pot plants and flowers for cutting. And they root easily. In general, most American miniature roses propagate much faster and easier than the European ones, because they are mainly based on varieties that have gone through my hands. And we definitely selected varieties for easy rooting.

So, in the melding of the miniatures with all other types of roses, I see the development of great new roses, of which we are now only dreaming. In closing, I would like to mention some of the new roses from our breeding, which will be offered in the 1986 season and beyond.

We planted more than 80,000 seeds this year, all hand crossed. Out of that, we potted out about 700 that bloomed. We also have several hundred more that did not bloom, that we are still waiting to look at. Our crosses were made looking toward ground covers, other moss roses, some of the rugosa hybrids, and other species hybrids. It is not an immediate result you're looking for. It may be two, three, five years before you are able to move on. So, I'm trying to run faster. Time's catching up with me, but I'm going to keep on running, as long as I can!

I'm very interested in a red rose we have, that drops its petals before it fades. We're looking for roses that will hold and hold in your garden, particularly red, because most of them fade disgracefully. I also have a little climber or a shrub type rose that is almost single and gets up to 5 feet. It's a cross between a yellow miniature climber and 'Playboy'. The colour is delightful, and it will possibly be used for other breeding, later on.

Another new one we're quite interested in is a ground cover, but we are growing some on weeping standards. It was entered in the All-America Trials this year by Armstrong Nurseries, It blooms repeatedly from early spring until frost. It's a cross of a little rose of mine called 'Papoose', which was R. wichuraiana crossed with the rose 'Zee'. 'Papoose' is white, like a little strawberry bloom. It flowers very heavily in the spring. We crossed 'Papoose' with 'Playboy' again and again, and got nothing but this one bicolour. Whether it makes All-America or not, I think you'll see it in your gardens.

There is another new one of the 'Toy Clown', 'Magic Carrousel' type, that has an entirely different background, but it attracts a good deal of attention. It's a little bit tall, but it's interesting because of the very sharp demarcation of the red and the white. We also have a new little ground cover. We budded it on a standard about 2 1/2 feet high, in a large container, and it just draped clear down to the bottom of the pot. In bloom it is very fragrant. We've tried it in hanging baskets.

We have several striped varieties. 'Strange Music' is being introduced in Europe this year by Meilland, as a pot plant. It is a very compact plant and a heavy bloomer. They said the Europeans wouldn't like stripes, but they decided to go ahead with this one. We also have 'Earthquake' and 'Whynot'. I'm constantly asked if it is from 'Eyepaint' or one of the other handpainted ones. It has no handpaint in it at all. It happens to be 'Golden Angel' crossed with an unnamed red moss seedling. It's quite mossy. It is a floribunda type plant with red to orange red flower with a yellow base.

'Millie Walters' didn't win an All-America Rose Selection (AARS) award but, it is fast making friends and it is a good exhibition rose. 'Make Believe' is very dark on the outside of the petal, almost a purple, and then, as it opens it is a reddish purple fragrant rose. It's not for exhibition or cutting, but it's good for the garden and excellent for hanging baskets. You can use it for massing or for borders. It should be very hardy, because it has the old violet rambler in it, as well as R. wichuraiana and R. multibracteata. The bloom goes from a soft lilac colour to fuchsia to almost petunia purple. The weight of the blooms causes the canes to bend over. It's in bloom nearly all of the time.

'Queen Crest' has very heavy cresting. It's a new "old fashioned" type. It is a sister seedling to 'Crested Jewel', only this one is like the old Crested Moss. It comes from 'Little Darling' crossed with Crested Moss. We've had it around for a number of years. It is scheduled to be in Wayside's catalogue in 1987.

Another one is pink. I almost threw it away. It's a shrub type rose. I've been doing some rugosa hybrids and you get mostly one time bloomers and full size roses out of rugosa crosses. Rugosa is very difficult to work with. As a seed parent, it sets seed very easily but the seedlings are reproductions of the mother. So, we are using it for pollen. One of the seedlings repeats from spring until frost and it is quite fragrant. It's a light to deep rosy pink. Another rugosa miniature hybrid we have is, as far as we know, the only yellow rugosa that repeat-blooms. The only other yellow rugosa is 'Agnes'. It blooms very briefly in the spring with a light yellow flower. My rose has a yellow bud that lightens and becomes creamy as it opens, and then it drops off cleanly. It blooms on a very small plant in a 4-inch pot. It flowers in clusters and is very fragrant. It will make a shrub, probably up to about 3 feet high. It should be very hardy. It has 'Belle Poitevine' in it, some of the Brownell sub-zero, Rosa wichuraiana and some miniature in it. It will also be in Wayside's 1987 catalogue. The size of the open bloom is about 3 inches. Right now, the name is 'Gold Rugosa'. To date, it is the only miniature I've had from rugosa hybrid parentage.