81-02-01: 'Oakington Ruby' X 'Little Chief', 2002. Nicknamed "Priscilla Plumbbob".
It is undeniable that Ralph Moore's work heavily influenced my own vision of rose breeding in the early 2000s. At times I even sought to mirror some of his own efforts, if for no other reason than to simply see first hand what kind of variations could be had with such crosses. It is worth remembering that when a hybridizer releases a selection into commerce, that we, the consumers, are seeing only one plant the breeder considered to be the best of the lot. The rest of the seedlings tell a much bigger story: perhaps the selected one was the only seedling of merit in a sea of junk. Or perhaps there were dozens of runners up that were so, so close to ideal that many were considered for commerce. Or maybe germination was terrible and there were only five seedlings to evaluate at all! You never know. I've seen all of these scenarios in my own work.
Back to the rose in the photo. I shared Ralph's fascination for tiny roses, and was especially fond of one of the key contributors to modern miniature breeding: 'Oakington Ruby'. It can be a great little shrub, and is totally China-like in all its aspects, except its small stature and tiny plant parts. I played with it a bit years ago, crossing it with other minis mostly, just to see what I would get. 81-02-01 was one such cross: 'Oakington Ruby' X 'Little Chief', the latter being born out of a curious pedigree involving a R. multibracteata hybrid, R. wichurana, 'Slater's Crimson China', and "Rouletii". As a breeder, 'Little Chief' has a reputation for being finicky as a seed parent but very generous as a pollen parent. I've used it on things like R. foliolosa and gotten some striking results. In the case of 81-02-01, seedlings were a lot more typical of this kind of breeding: lots of very small plants in pinks and reddish hues, well-branched, largely unremarkable. (I did release one as a kind of "collectors item" rose, named 'Oui'. Click here to view it on HMF)
This cute little pink number is one of my favorites of the lot, but has not been introduced into commerce, as I regard it as a bit of an anachronism and hardly something a lot of people are going to be interested in. It is 8 years old now and still happily occupies a 5 gallon pot, and has not exceeded 15" tall and about as wide. It is intermediate in style between the two parents and fairly thorny. I presents its bloom in clusters spread attractively across its canopy of dense, bright green growth and is in bloom on and off all season. The candy pink blooms are about an inch across, very double and have an unusual sweet candy-like fragrance, similar to the scent of certain China cultivars. It sets seed on occasion, although I have never tried to germinate them. Maybe I will sow a few this year, just out of curiosity.
Listing on HMF