Harvey Davidson's Smooth Touch roses

Once in a great while I have seen Harvey’s (RHA member who passed away a few years ago) thornless Smooth Touch roses for sale at box stores. He was very kind to me encouraging me to submit my own plant patents and mentoring me in how to pull the forms together. Many years ago I grew Smooth Velvet, Smooth Lady, and Smooth Angel, but I haven’t had any of his roses in a number of years now. I saw at Home Depot this past weekend they have a few (Moonlight, Queen, Lady, and a striped one I forgot the name of) for sale and they were packaged by Mea Nursery. From the label Anthony Tesselaar (Flower Carpet rose marketer) is the force behind them now.

What have others experience been with them? Besides being near thornless, what can people say about their fertility, health, and plant habit? Thank you!

Joe Stromei used to grow several of them in his wonderful garden in Sunland, CA. He allowed them to grow as the climbers they wanted to be. He had 8’ tall boulder walls around the place and the several he grew topped the walls and flowered over the crest. He had few disease issues in that garden due to the heat, but he did get some black spot on the lower foliage where moisture was trapped by neighboring plants. He liked them. To me, they were to thinly petalled and blew too quickly.

Thank you Kim!!

Hi David, you’re welcome! Of course, your mileage may likely vary.

Our local rose society prunes at Morcom Ampitheater of Roses on Oakland, CA every January. Smooth Lady is my favorite to prune for obvious reasons. This year I brought home a hip and planted 4 seeds in a little terra cotta pot in the family room. She must be a fertile momma because every seed germinated and now my little rose babies have several sets of leaves. Looking forward to seeing them grow up and bloom.

One Davidson bred but was deemed “unworthy” for introduction, is Golden Oldie. 'Golden Oldie' Rose It impresses the daylights out of me every time I see it at the Heritage in San Jose. I have buds of it on stocks out back (fingers are crossed!) as it appears wonderfully healthy, low on prickles and possessing a “Tea-like” habit of flowering and growth. It’s a gorgeous thing and it screams it wants the Chinese Yellow Species mixed with it.

Anyone have Smooth Touch roses that they would share cuttings. I would gladly pay for shipping or even purchase.

or where to source in the USA

Monrovia originally marketed the Smooth Touch roses but haven’t in many years now. The usual suspects offering them in more recent years were the off brand catalogs such as Gurney’s, Michigan Bulb and Springhill, but they are now usually offering the standard stuff all the other sources offer. It seems no one is propagating them anymore. Unfortunately, many of the home gardeners listing them on HMF haven’t visited the site in over a year. Too often, that means the gardeners are no longer there.

Thank you and yes I have contacted those vendors. I see them for sale in Australia of all places but cannot get them to ship to the USA. I have been contacting arboretums with rose gardens to see if they have one possibly. Not the end of the world.

You’re welcome. Give up on the importing from Australia. It’s the USDA which prevents that and their resistance is firmly based in US introducers lobbying back in the last century to prevent it. There was supposedly the “deadly disease”, Rose Wilt Virus, which was easily explained by a series of other pathogens, but it was sufficient to Having observed a number of the “Smooth Touch” roses, the only thing that attracted me to them was the lower prickle count. I grow Davidson’s “Golden Oldie”, which isn’t considered a “Smooth Touch”, but it’s very low prickle count. So far, it’s resisted all efforts to pollinate it but the pollen appears to work.

There have been prior discussions about this (see below), but it might be possible to go back to ‘Little Darling’ while it’s still around to generate new prickle-free lines. It was the seed parent of ‘Smooth Sailing’, which was the matriarch of the Smooth Touch lineage, and it has a number of other prickle-free or nearly so offspring. That trait would certainly be valuable to bring out and preserve in some newer roses with other improvements for future breeding work.


I checked Burling Leong’s 2024 list (Burlington Rose Nursery) and it looks like she has ‘Little Darling’ in stock now. I remember it being a pretty fertile seed parent years ago when I had one. I got one a year or so ago again from Burling and it is large enough now that this spring I’m excited to use it as a female parent. The flower form, petal substance and color are sure nice.

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I grew Smooth Prince a long time ago. Like all hybrid teas at the time, it fell apart with blackspot in New Jersey. The canes were oddly large compared to the flower size - that and the lack of fragrance is why I got rid of it. However, it was nice to have thornless canes and I give Harvey a lot of credit. I do not remember any hips. No experience with the rest of them.