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by Ralph S. Moore
2519 E. Noble Avenue
Visalia, CA 93292
We have all heard the oft repeated story that miniature roses (as we now know them) trace back to Rosa rouletii. But this story is only partly true. 'Tom Thumb' (Peon in Europe), by Jan de Vink, came from the first cross using rouletii, soon to be followed by others.

Rouletii is apparently a pure china rose and the first hybrids were mostly crosses of a polyantha variety X rouletii. But there is more. In my own work, I began by crossing (a then unnamed rose) 'Carolyn Dean' with 'Tom Thumb' to produce 'Zee'. And 'Zee' in turn became the pollen parent of a whole tribe of miniatures including 'Pink Cameo', 'New Penny', 'Sheri Anne', 'Magic Wand', 'Fairy Princess', 'Mary Marshall', 'Yellow Doll', 'Little Chief' and many more.

'Oakington Ruby'There is yet another side to the miniature story. About 1940-41, I used pollen of 'Floradora' on 'Oakington Ruby' which was a 'found' rose in England and introduced by Robinson. This also appears to be a pure china, more red, more double and more vigorous than rouletii. At about the same time I had acquired plants of Rosa wichurana and proceeded to cross it with Floradora (a new orange-red floribunda from Germany). From this crossing I raised some 50 or more plants which I grew to flowering stage. They ranged in color from white to pink. Flower size was about 1 and 1/2 to 2 " with 5 to 10 or more petals. From the lot I selected one plant which in my breeding became #0-47-19. This variety (cultivar) was propagated into numerous plants to be used in my breeding (but never introduced).

The variety 0-47-19 has clusters and sprays of one and one-half inch single, soft pink, blended with yellow, flowers which have a sweet wild rose scent, has a true rambler habit with glossy foliage and spring bloom. Over the years I have used this rose as seed parent in hundreds of crosses and combinations. Of equal importance in the miniature story is the cross I made of 'Oakington Ruby' X 'Floradora' from which also one seedling was saved. This plant was a vigorous upright grower with very double 1 and 1/2 " red flowers. It produced a little pollen which I used on 0- 47-19 many times. From the first crosses came such varieties as 'Dian', 'Little Buckaroo' and 'Westmont'. They were followed by 'Red Germain' and others. But the important "stars" were 'Westmont' and 'Red Germain'. These two were to change the story of miniature roses forever.

Two other happenings were my discovery of the yellow climber 'Golden Glow', from Brownell and 'Little Darling' from Carl Duehrsen. I had ordered a plant of 'Golden Glow' from Walter Brownell which was doing well so I grew several more. This rose is a vigorous climber to about 15 feet with good foliage and large 4" double yellow flowers. It also sets seed hips easily and seeds germinated well. However, it is only a spring flowering variety so pollinizing must be done over a short period of time. And I discovered that it carried the recessive factor for repeat bloom. Then the stage was set for some improved yellow miniatures, plus white, cream and bi-colors.

Over the years I proceeded to make many hundreds of crosses and grew thousands of seedlings of various combinations using 'Golden Glow' as the seed parent. The majority of the seedlings were once blooming climbers which were soon discarded. But there were numerous dwarf repeat flowering bushes. From these, such new varieties as 'Easter Morning', 'Jackie', 'Yellow Doll' and 'Little Flirt" came to be. There were also a few repeat flowering climbers of which two were finally selected, namely 'Climbing Jackie', a creamy white, and 'Little Showoff', a red and yellow bi-color.

All the above miniature varieties were from crosses of 'Golden Glow' X 'Zee'. How such a small, rather weak plant such as 'Zee' (really a tiny miniature climber to about 14 inches) could pair with the huge vigorous climber, Golden Glow', and give such offspring as 'Easter Morning' and 'Yellow Doll' is truly a miracle.

Along with the breeding using 'Zee' as the pollen parent I began to use some of the (R. wichurana X 'Floradora') x ('Oakington Ruby' X 'Floradora') seedlings. Those proving best were 'Westmont' and 'Red
Germain'. When pollen of 'Westmont' was used on 'Little Darling' two seedlings were different and outstanding. One became 'Over the Rainbow' and the other became 'Magic Carrousel'. Many of today's bright colors have come out of 'Over the Rainbow'. (There is also a climbing sport originating at the nursery of Roy Rumsey in Dural, Australia.)

But the crosses of 'Little Darling' X 'Red Germain' have produced far reaching and quite desirable results. The first crosses produced three varieties which were named and introduced, 'Windy City', a mid-pink double miniature was featured at the Chicago Convention of the World Council of Roses Societies in 1974. Another variety, similar to 'Magic Carrousel' was named 'Janna' in honor of a friend and introduced by Sequoia Nursery *in 1970. The third was a sermi- double white with pink tints. It won an Award of Excellence from the American Rose Society Miniature Trials and was introduced by Nor' East Miniature Roses as 'Peachy White'. This rose has been popular in England for years. As 'Peachy White' made an excellent plant, was easily propagated and gave good pollen it became the stud (pollen) parent for many of my crosses at the time.

From crosses of 'Golden Glow' X 'Peachy White' several yellows emerged such as 'Golden Angel', 'Yellow Magic', 'Yellow Jewel' and 'Calgold', all of which have been used world wide for breeding. The real gem to date was a cross of 'Little Darling' X 'Yellow Magic' (made in 1972) which produced 'Rise 'N Shine', heralded by many as the world's finest yellow miniature. Breeders around the world have, and are, using 'Rise 'N Shine' both as a seed and pollen parent.

Another seedling produced by the same lot as 'Rise 'N Shine; became #1-72-1, a repeat flowering miniature climber. This sister seedling of 'Rise 'N Shine' was never introduced but we have used it extensively in our breeding. Form crosses of 1-72-1 X 'Gold Badge' (floribunda) have come 'Cal Poly', (also an Award of Excellence winner), 'Work of Art', an orange blend mini climber and others.

All these derived their miniaturization not from rouletii but from 'Oakington Ruby'. So of today's miniatures, probably as much as half then trace back to 'Oakington Ruby'. Though quite different, both Rosa rouletii and 'Oakington Ruby' are pure china. Also, many years ago I grew, in two separate years, quite a population of self 'Old Blush' seedlings. From the lot I got several dwarf or miniature types. These ranged from 6 inch to about 14 inches in height with small 3/4 - I inch double flowers. Colors ranged from near white through several shades of pink to the lavender, 'Mr. Bluebird'. One was almost an exact duplicate of my 'Pink Joy' which along with 'Centennial Miss and 'Patty Lou' were grown from self seeds of 'Oakington Ruby'. Thus all these varieties of pure china origin should rightly be classed as chinas (OGR or Old Garden Roses) as proposed by Scott Hanson of Arizona. What we know today as Miniature Roses are a hybrid lot - a totally new form of the rose.

Other forms or classes of the rose have had a mixed or hybrid beginning as note the Hybrid Perpetual, Hybrid Tea, Floribunda, etc. I maintain that as a class the modem miniature rose came into existence about 1936. Thus these older dwarf chinas such as rouletii, 'Oakington Ruby', etc. should not be classed as miniature as the designation should apply only to the group of miniature type roses, of complex hybrid ancestry which originated about 1936. The older rouletii/'Oakington Ruby' group should then be called "dwarf china".

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Original photographs and site content © Paul Barden 1996-2002.

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