Ralph Moore and ruffled flowers

I was reading an article from Fall 1994 newsletter and it was talking about Ralph Moore’s work in it this statement was said

And he is beginning to see some

success at putting a ruffle on the edge of the petals that almost makes them appear serrated; "It’s hard to

get [the ruffling] because so many of them are sterile."

Apparently the part in quotes from Ralph himself. Has anybody noticed this with ruffled roses or is it just the parents Ralph was using? Does anybody now what parents he was using?

The fringed petals were mainly anomalies. In The Quest for the Rose, Philips and Rix photographed a rose with “oak leaf petals”. Carolyn had numerous calls for that rose. It was the ONLY time it ever bloomed that way. There were some occasionally, but nothing he deliberately used to obtain the shape. Most of them came from a lot of in breeding, much of it in the Halo lines, so there was a lot of Angel Farce, Anytime, Gold Badge and Orangeade in them.

I would count the oak leaf petal shape interest up there with Ralph’s interest in edible rose hips with the quality of a good stone fruit, his pink flowering strawberry and a bit lower than his four foot tall, seven and more bloom per stalk, HUGE flowered Amaryllis. He actually HAD those.

He dabbled in everything. Few knew of his interest in conifers and the numerous selections of Arizona Cypress which grow on the western edge of the property. Some of the first Dawn Redwoods to grow outside of the University system still grow on the property. He liked to relate how, very early in their residence there, he treated branches with Gibberellic acid to induce maturity and stimulate them to bloom and seed, years before they normally would. He’d chuckle about the ‘tree services’ which would stop by annually, offering to take out his “dead trees”! LOL

I wish I could get City of Belfast for its ruffled blooms and nice color. I also love the frills of Ole but it even gets mildew in my climate :frowning:

Angel Face has nice ruffled petals, but thats one of the few traits that would even make me want to use it.

Ruffles on floribundas always looks nice. I would love to see shrublets with ruffles, too.

Thanks for the reply Kim. It is interesting to hear the information about Ralph. I may have seen the pink flowering strawberry before. A former professor of mine specializes in strawberries and he had a few pink flowered ones breed by other breeders. He also has a yellow flowered one that was some kind of cross with a cinquefoil. The Amaryllis would be something else to see.

You’re welcome, Adam. The amaryllis were amazing. When they flowered, you couldn’t see the potted roses on the bench they grew under! The best were dug and spead around to a few people, unfortunately, I don’t know who has them.

We know about his lilacs, but he also had a group of crepe myrtle J&P bought, paid for, and did nothing with. He had a wonderful forest of them growing in the “south 40”, at the back end of the nursery, past the mountains of wichurana climber seedlings, out behind the seedling houses. What I would have loved to have been able to save was the lilac with one inch flowers. It was rather odd looking, but what could have been done with that! There was also a dwarf pink lilac which grew in a two gallon can on the table beside the huge kumquat tree which would make a splendid Mother’s Day potted plant. He said in the open ground, it remained under four feet tall. Who knows where that is now?


Thanks for the wonderful stories about Mr. Moore. Every time you tell one, my amazement at his many accomplishments just increases. He retained that childlike sense of wonder all his life. I wonder if that was a big factor along with his power of observation, work ethic, and questioning mind. A wonderful role model to inspire all of us. Oh yes, a generous spirit also. It still warms me when I recall the story of Dee Bennett being discouraged in setting up a mini rose nursery by all the male hybridizers of that era except for Mr. Moore who not only encouraged her but gave her some of his stock to begin with and look at what she accomplished as a result.


Good morning Jim, yes, absolutely! I honestly got the impression few, if any, ever told him, “You can’t DO that”. Children can do anything…until they’re told they can’t.

It went far past just breeding. I remember visiting and he walked me past some fig trees, chuckling. He told me it was very difficult to bud figs, and grapes, because they flow so much sap, it pushes the scion out of the “T” cut. He looked me in the eye and asked if I knew how it could be done. The only thing that made any sense was to make the vertical cut of the “T” longer and place the bud higher in the cut, allowing the sap to flow out the lower end, preventing pushing out the bud. That was it!

He usually had vegetable cuttings in abundance. He’d found a tomato he particularly liked, so to maintain it, he’d root cuttings of it under mist and keep them in the greenhouses over winter so he’d have the same tomato next year. He did the same thing with particular delphiniums he liked the colors of. He was always striking cuttings of the odd thing, much to Carolyn’s frustration, as they never sold any of them, but she’d have to maintain them, make room for them and eventually throw most of them away because of the glut.

He had odd things stashed away all over the place. Years ago, Wayside introduced a yellow Gardenia which was a sport of Mystery (I think) that had occurred in Hawaii. Instead of opening white and yellowing with age, it opened yellow. He had a couple of flats of them rooted on the tables and Carolyn was delighted to find homes for them before having to discard them. I brought several home and gave them to my gardening clients for their gardens. Unfortunately, none survived long, even in pots.

Jim Delahanty and I were up on a visit and had just returned from lunch, when a woman walked into the nursery with a decorated, 2" clay pot. It was too early and cold for the roses to be in bloom, but she wanted something colorful and flowering for a dozen of them that weekend for a bridal shower she was throwing.

Carolyn had gone on errands so it was the three of us there when the woman arrived. Ralph told her no one was there to help her but she could wait for Carolyn, who would surely be back shortly. I asked her what type of thing she had in mind and my eye fell on a partial flat of double spirea in 1" pots he’d rooted. They were thin and wispy, but flowering to beat the band. I picked one up and put it in her pot, telling her the small, double, virginal white buds resembled little roses and were particularly good because the common name was “Bridal Wreath”. We dug out the fullest, best dozen of them and she was delighted. Carolyn had come back and stood there with Ralph and Jim, watching in amusement. I excused myself and asked Carolyn if she would please write up the woman’s purchase, telling her what it was. She had HUGE eyes and a grin on her face, but took over like the professional she is. Afterward, she came over laughing and exclaimed, “How do you DO that!?” That’s when she told me he had propagated things for years with no eventual homes for them and she had to eventually dump them as there were so many. I had stated to the woman her timing was perfect. After selecting the best dozen, there were only a very few left and they weren’t as nice as hers. Ralph came over to look and stated, “Hm, guess I’d better get busy and make some more!” Carolyn groaned!

There were always new flats of 1" potted conifers, crepe myrtles, various shrubs, annuals, vegetables, anything which had a branch out of place and caught his eye. His mist tables and houses were his constant source of amusement. Something was always being stuck in there to make some more.

Lilacs are particularly difficult to propagate commercially, which is why they had been budded on privet for so many years. That proved to be too costly, so tissue culture was chosen. Unless you had suckering plants to divide, they could be slow to increase. Ralph experimented and discovered soft, new growth rooted fairly easily under mist, so he pumped those out, too. He would often cut hands full of things as we’d wander the nursery and leave them sitting on a bench where the mist in the main mist house would keep them wet until he got back to them. Very often, they would begin to callus sitting there. He would often delight asking me on my next visit if I remembered this or that he’d cut and left in the house, then telling me it had rooted laying there!

The climate was perfect. Hot, dry, with enough winter chill to grow lilacs and stone fruit to perfection, but not enough to damage his orange and kumquat trees. Berries, one of his passions, grew like Jack’s Bean Stalk! He had received bud wood from Burbank’s Apex Plumcot from “an old farmer” years before and had it grafted to one of his fruit trees. I grew the tree he grafted for me for years, but only have a self seedling of it left. It was one of the most beautiful flowering trees I’ve ever seen. The fruit wasn’t very good, but the tree was gorgeous. His cherry trees were sumptuous, and had many varieties grafted to them as material from something new came along. Just about any kind of fruit or berry from citrus to apples, figs and quince bore beautifully. Add regular mist and virtually anything could be coaxed into rooting. One table was completely open and exposed, except for the tree canopy overhead, which provided filtered light with periods of direct sun. He would stand there with a three pound coffee can, holes poked in the sides about an inch from the solid bottom, and graft mini cuttings on the tops of foot long whips of unrooted Pink Clouds. He’d do a dozen, rubber band them together and poke them in the can where about an inch of water stood in the bottom and the mist kept the tops moist. He’d do as many varieties as he wanted and leave them standing there in the sun, under mist, to root and knit until he could remove new mini trees ready for planting and hardening off.

As his abilities diminished, he began paying increasing attention to Carolyn’s and Burling’s efforts, much like a newly retired husband pays too much attention to his wife’s daily chores. Of course, that made them nuts, being micro managed all the time. They had always put multiple cuttings in each pot to create fuller pots, faster, but Ralph decided that was a waste, so he pushed to create single eye cuttings to get more from less and wait the greater time it took for the plants to develop. He had Burling experiment with “flooding the stigmas with pollen”, going back over more difficult crosses on several successive days to reapply the pollen in hopes of getting better seed set. The rugosa crosses were his particular subjects for that because so many of the rugosa crosses appeared to be self set seed, whether used as pollen or seed parent. The theory sounded interesting, but far more time consuming with little success to justify it.


That’s a great story which I really enjoyed reading over a cup of coffee this morning. Beats reading the grim daily news!

Good stories Kim. I could read them all day.


THANK YOU SO MUCH! I laughed as I read it as he seemed to be always poking and puttering AND ACCOMPLISHING. It was a joy to read. Why not expand it and submit it for an article for the newsletter. Poor Peter is always having to make requests and this is perfect though I want to hear even more! Your writing brought it to life for me as I am sure it will do it for others. He was truly a treasure and I could sympathize with Carloyn’s and Burling’s sometimes frustration though I tend to be more the putterer and packrat type myself. I truly think this is an important part of our rose history which will be truly lost otherwise; you were there to witness it. It is truly amazing how many innovations he came up with and in so many varied aspects of horticulture. Thank you for telling us about them.I remember Mary on Garden Web who lived down the block from Dee Bennett and would go up every day and help deadhead the roses and describe the nursery set up to us on the rose forum. It brought it so to life.



By a VERY strange coincidence, about 3 years ago I too was asked by an elderly neighbour to figure out how to graft one runty but tasty variety of fig he had onto some vigorous fig trees he had. He is a total fig fanatic.

Chip budding using ordinary budding tape worked a treat, but you must have a very nice fat bud, and you should leave the tape on for at least 5 weeks!

Kim, have you ever considered compiling all your anecdotes and either writing a biography, or at least an extended article for publication? I really enjoy reading them.

Ralph was certainly a man after my own heart. I fully intend to drive my loved ones at least as crazy as I get older.


You have an excellent writing style and story telling abilty. If I wrote the same story it would be something like this: “I saw Ralph and then went home.”

I agree with Philip. I would love to see you write a biography of Mr. Moore.


Yep. I like the stories too. I do get whimsical over what is lost though.

Because it isn’t ALL about roses…

Link: www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/food/article-1262312/Pineapple-strawberries-sale-Pineberries-cream-new-summer-treat.html

Oh yeah… there’s this fun one too.

Link: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bluetomato.jpg

A blue 'mater isnt surprising when one considers the rest of the night shade family lol.

I have a ruffled plant that is (Rosa woodsii X R. Rugosa alba)X Martin Frobisher. Email me if you want photo.

Johannes P.

Photo up and running… hope

Link: www.facebook.com/#!/photo.php?pid=68797&id=1207081823

It’s very pretty, very delicate. The flower looks similar to Mrs. Doreen Pike. How is the scent?

The scent is most like the Rosa woodsii parent. Not strong but there, if this is of any help