Stars’n’Stripes functions like a climber for a very good reason. Its breeding breaks down to Little Chief X (Little Darling X Ferdinand Pichard). Little Darling is a floppy rose. It has a good dose of Wichuraiana in it, and usually throws long, floppy canes before blooming. Ferdinand Pichard is a fairly traditional HP in growth. Long canes throwing shorter laterals like a shorter pillar rose. Hybrid Perpetuals can (at least in my climate) be used as climbers. Most are/were suitable for pegging. Ralph’s intention was to take the semi climbing 26Stripe (Little Darling X Ferdinand Pichard) and massage the stripes into a healthier, bushier, more dwarf plant by crossing it with Little Chief.
Little Chief was produced by crossing his Cotton Candy (R. Wichuraiana X Multibracteata seedling) with Magic Wand, which is a climbing mini. Cotton Candy is a once blooming climber. Ralph explained to me years ago the Multibracteata seedling was a sister to Floradora which was never released. He obtained it for breeding and the one rose of note created from it was Cotton Candy. Magic Wand was so named because everything he put it on ended up being commercial, it was his “magic wand”. Not in this vein, but Secret Recipe was his striped, moss breeder, his “secret recipe”. He wasn’t very good at selecting names, but he had fun with them. Thankfully, Carolyn is MUCH better at it than he ever was.
As I wrote in my tribute to him, Ralph loved telling the story of Sam McGredy asking for a plant of Pin Stripe. Ralph wasn’t finished with it yet and didn’t want to let any of it go, so he gave McGredy a plant of Stars’n’Stripes. Ralph stated he told him if he selfed it once, he could fix the dwarf, repeat blooming striped plant he sought. If you’ve grown any of the McGredy roses bred from Stars’n’Stripes, you know that suggestion was not taken. They’re all floppy plants like Stars’n’Stripes.
So, yes, it is a climber…sort of. Like Sweet Chariot is a climber…sort of. Both can easily develop into arching, floppy plants in milder climates with ample root run and lighter pruning. If you’re looking to create climbers, and ground covers really are just climbers allowed to lay flat on the ground, it is a good choice. If you want bushier plants, either self it and select the best of the bunch, or choose something like Pinstripe or one of the others which exhibit bushier, more dwarf plant habit.
You might take a look at Twister. It’s a striped, climbing mini bred from 1-72-1, the climbing yellow mini sister of Rise’n’Shine crossed with Shadow Dancer. You’ll pick up a double dose of Dortmund in this one. There aren’t any listed offspring from it, so who knows what to expect from using it?