'Joy': A Rose that "Travels the Way of the Heart"

August 4, 2020

Suzanne Horn

Master Rosarian, Pacific Rose Society

This article is a 2017 Award of Merit winner

 

The great 13th Century Persian poet Rumi, who became one of the most widely read poets in America, wrote: “What a joy, to travel the way of the heart.” This quote aptly applies to the rose ‘Joy’, which was named in honor of someone very close to the heart of well-known Alabama hybridizer David E. Clemons, his mother Joy. It is also the number one rated miniature exhibition rose in commerce.

 

Renowned for naming roses after thoroughbred race horses, David has even called his company “Thoroughbred Roses”. There have been only two exceptions to the naming of his introductions, the first being ‘Joy’, which was named for his mother as noted above, and the second being ‘Tammy Clemons’, named for his lovely wife. Both have proven to be outstanding roses, with ‘Joy’ being one of the finest miniature roses every produced.

 

‘Joy’ (Code Name DECjoy) was bred from a cross of two exceptional miniature roses, Silverhill x Kristin. It is classified by the American Rose Society as a pink blend (pb). The exquisite blooms are actually white with various amounts of warm pink blush on the edging and often throughout the rose,

based upon weather conditions. ‘Joy’ begins as shapely, pointed ovoid buds, which unfurl to reveal perfectly spiraled blooms with pinpoint centers set upon long straight stems. Those impeccably formed florets present as one bloom per stem and also as beautiful sprays. They also have great substance and present the kind of stunning, high centered exhibition form that has sent it straight to the trophy table.

 

The fully double blossoms measure approximately 1.5” across and present only between 17 and 25 petals each. Generally, this would be considered very lightly petaled for an exhibition rose. However, ‘Joy’ has incredible holding power, both on the bush and under refrigeration. Like its parent Kristin, once it reaches exhibition stage, it will hold that form indefinitely, literally “turning to potpourri on the bush” rather than blowing into an open bloom. The medium matte green foliage sets a complimentary frame for the lovely blooms.

 

By way of growth habit, ‘Joy’ is a medium tall plant, growing from three to four feet high in a spreading manner. You’ll want to give it plenty of room. It can grow slightly larger if it is budded or grafted onto fortuniana rootstock. This rose is equally suited to planting in a rose bed or growing in containers. Like most miniature roses, ‘Joy’ has no discernable fragrance, but it certainly makes up for this with its beautiful bloom form. Although it is sometimes susceptible to a bit of powdery mildew here on the West Coast, it is generally quite disease resistant.

 

I have grown this rose since September of 2005, when David sent me a test plant of DECjoy to evaluate its exhibition potential. My own root plants are growing in 25-gallon containers, and they are vigorous and healthy, as is my one plant budded onto fortuniana rootstock. At first I thought that the rose could use an extra row of petals. However, that was before I realized that the rose possessed Kristin’s unbelievable holding power. I immediately fell in love with it and added many more plants to my garden as soon as ‘Joy’ was made commercially available.

 

Apart from the splendid form and lush hue of its blooms, the true beauty of this rose is enhanced by the story straight from the heart that produced it. In order to get some background information on the story, I went to David Clemons himself for some up close and personal insight.

 

He recalls, “I first saw Joy in bloom as a seedling in 2001 (Silverhill x Kristin). The potential was evident almost immediately with its great color and exceptional long lasting exhibition form. I grew this seedling for several years and entered many seedling classes, where it was a consistent winner. In 2005 it won the Hybridizer's Trophy at the Memphis ARS National. My biggest thrill was presenting my mother with a plant of this seedling and telling her I would be naming it ‘Joy’ to honor her.” ‘Joy’ was subsequently registered as a miniature rose in 2007, and the rest is history.

 

David continued, “It has been ten years since I was honored to have my rose ‘Joy’ receive the ARS AOE (“Award of Excellence”) Award for 2008. It was a dream come true as Dr. Jim Hering presented the awards that year to Michael Williams (Edisto), Frank Benardella (Showstopper and Power Point) and myself (Joy). ‘Joy’ would also be the ARS Member's Choice Award for 2012 and the winner of the David Fuerstenburg Award in 2014.”

 

Since its introduction, ‘Joy’ has climbed straight to the top in the rankings of exhibition miniature roses, becoming a favorite of exhibitors from coast to coast. It immediately became known as a “Queen Machine” on both sides of the pond, where it has made its mark on the trophy tables internationally. David notes, “I am thrilled with its success on the show table as the #1 exhibition rose, both as a single stem and spray. Joy has also found great success in the U.K. as an exhibition rose. I have seen photos of some of the most beautiful blooms with magnificent color there, shown by exhibitors such as Ivor Mace and Neil Duncan.”

 

To add to his remarks, I would like to share some observations from famous English exhibitor Ray Martin, with whom I spoke about a year ago. Ray told me that ‘Joy’ is by far and away the most exhibited rose in England. He noted that every show reflected more entries of ‘Joy’ than any other rose, and that the tables were always literally covered with these entries. Now that is real success!

 

No wonder ‘Joy’ is now one of the most sought after roses in commerce. It is now commercially available by mail order on its own roots from For Love of Roses, budded on fortuniana from K&M Roses and budded on multiflora from Wisconsin Roses. All lovers of miniature roses, whether they are exhibitors or home gardeners, will want to grow this exceptional variety.

 

In closing, I will share one final heart-warming quote from David Clemons about this extraordinary rose: “There may come a day when ‘Joy’ will not be such a popular variety, but that honor of winning the AOE and naming it for my mother will never be taken away.” I can’t imagine a day when the popularity of ‘Joy’ will wane. To that end, I just added three more plants to my collection!

 

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