Friday, January 14, 2011

From the Ralph Moore archives, on Ralph's 104th birthday

Another memento from the Ralph Moore archive, on his 104th birthday: a flyer advertising the introduction of 'Bit 'O' Sunshine', probably mailed out in 1956, the year of its introduction.

Interesting story about 'Bit 'O' Sunshine': back in the early 2000's, Carolyn Supinger, Sequoia's general manager sent me a list of Ralph's roses that she was trying to find plants of, so Sequoia could "bring home" as many of the Moore roses as were still around. Of course, many of the pre-1960 varieties remain lost and in all likelihood are extinct now. However, many "lost" cultivars did find their way back to Sequoia Nursery.

Shortly after Jerry Justice died, I was visiting with his nursery manager, Santos, who was sorting the inventory and dispatching it as responsibly as she could. I was sorting through a tray of 'Rise 'N' Shine's I was buying and in the tray was a half dozen plants that were clearly not 'Rise 'N' Shine'. I pointed this out to Santos who didn't know what they were. So, I took them home with me, knowing that Carolyn was looking for some of Ralph's older roses. Who knows, right?

I sent three plants to Carolyn at Sequoia, and she gave them to Ralph for identification. Well, guess what? Ralph said they were 'Bit 'O' Sunshine', one of his varieties from the mid-fifties. One other "lost" variety was found growing at Justice Miniatures that year as well: 'Strawberry Swirl', one of the early Mini Mosses Moore bred.

Many of the early Moore roses remain lost at this time, with little hope of recovery. After fifty years or more, there is slim chance that any of them are still alive in private gardens around the country. Still, it is a testament to Ralph that well over 3/4 of his 500+ hybrids are still grown and many are in commerce to this day. (In spite of the serious decline in people's interest in roses, especially the miniatures. )

As it happens, I have living specimens of all three of the roses listed in this flyer!


  1. Paul
    I was fortunate to go and meet with Mr. Moore when I first started buying mini roses. I have been away from it for awhile and was sad to see that there is no way to get many of the roses that he sold. Do you know what happened and did anyone take over?


  2. Cheryl,
    As you know, Mr. Moore died about two years ago, and since then Sequoia Nursery has been dismantled and the property cleared for development. Sequoia Nursery is no longer, as none of his relatives cared to take over. Moore's archive of roses became the property of Texas A&M University, and they are developing a strategy for making many older varieties and many previously unreleased available to commerce. How and when this will happen is anyone's guess.

    In the meantime, the Moore catalog has been scattered around the continent, with the small nurseries picking up their favorites from the Moore collection and offering them as they are able. I suggest you start with Burlington Roses in Visalia, run by Moore's assistant, Burling Leong: