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Mariposa Gem, bred by Ralph Moore, California 1995.

Mariposa Gem Breeding: 'Little Darling' X 'Magic Wand'.

Any time that a hybridizer works with Miniature roses, some percentage of the offspring will be large growing roses. In the many years that Ralph Moore worked with the climbing Miniature 'Magic Wand', this is the only time that one of the full-sized hybrids was released into commerce. When you see a fully grown specimen of 'Mariposa Gem', it is quite apparent that it is the progeny of 'Little Darling', with its finely articulated, nearly thornless growth and handsome grass-green glossy foliage. Why this rose has remained so obscure in commerce is hard to comprehend. Perhaps, like so many fine roses, it is a sleeper, not yet finding its full audience?

This rose has real presence in the garden; its blackish-red glowing blooms the texture of velvet, with a soft straw-buff reverse to accentuate its striking color. No photograph does justice to a half-open blossom; it must be seen firsthand to appreciate its splendour. If 'Mariposa Gem' has shortcomings, I suppose its complete lack of fragrance could be cited as such, and perhaps not everyone will appreciate its loose, informal bloom form once fully expanded. Still, this is a special rose that should be seen in more gardens and collections. I can think of no other rose that displays such striking color contrast in its blooms. Did I mention that it is almost never without a few clusters of blooms?

ARS merit rating: NA
Personal merit rating: 8.5
Hardiness: Likely USDA zones 6 to 10, zone 5 in a protected location.
Shrub size: 2.5 to 5 feet tall, depending on climate.
Fragrance: 0.5 no fragrance to speak of.

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Original photographs and site content © Paul Barden 1996-2006