Diamond Eyes A Dazzling, Decorative Gem from Tom Carruth
by Suzanne M. Horn, Master Rosarian with the Pacific Rose Society
This article is an 2018 Award of Merit winner.
All photos by Suzanne Horn
Like a starburst in the night sky, a glorious purple miniature rose called ‘Diamond Eyes’ will mesmerize you in an instant. This exquisite decorative mini comes to us through the creative genius of famed hybridizer Tom Carruth, whose longtime work at Weeks Roses is legendary. Tom bred ‘Diamond Eyes’ in 2010 and it was subsequently registered as WEKwibypur. Its parentage is documented as Wild Blue Yonder x [(seedling x Baby Love) x Night Owl]. ‘Diamond Eyes’ was introduced into commerce in 2013 by Weeks Roses and was an instant success with the buying public. It is one of my favorites of Tom Carruth’s creations, and was an Award of Excellence (AOE) winner in 2013.
By way of background, the broad goal of Tom Carruth’s breeding was to make the rose a contender with all plants, rather than a fussy queen of the garden. His introductions emphasize disease resistance, fragrance, floriferousness, novelty and attractive habit. ‘Diamond Eyes’ certainly has all of those qualities. Tom went through a “purple phase” in his hybridizing program where he introduced a number of mauve/purple roses including the velvety deep purple of ‘Ebb Tide’, the first of a real color breakthrough. Tom is the inventor of over 85 plant patents and he had also accumulated 11 AARS Award Winners in just 14 years. Weeks’ AARS Award Winners to emerge from Tom’s hybridizing work include: the 2011 Winner, Dick Clark which he co-hybridized with current Weeks hybridizer Christian Bédard, Cinco de Mayo (2009), Strike it Rich (2007); Julia Child (2006); Wild Blue Yonder (2006); About Face (2005); Memorial Day (2004); Hot Cocoa (2003); Betty Boop (1999); Fourth of July (1999) and Scentimental (1997).
Now retired from Weeks Roses, Tom has taken on a new role as the E.L. & Ruth B. Shannon Curator of the Rose Collection at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens. He is overseeing the renovation of the rose garden with an eye on refocusing the rose collection to equal the beauty of the many other spectacular gardens at the Huntington. However, his legacy in hybridizing includes over 100 introductions to his credit with numerous national and international awards. Some of the ‘stars’ from Tom’s work include Home Run, Pink Home Run, Ebb Tide, Ch-Ching!, Marilyn Monroe, Moonstone, George Burns, Neptune, Chihuly, Topsy Turvey, Candy Land, Purple Splash, Ruby Ruby and the rose in our spotlight this month, ‘Diamond Eyes’.
I inquired of Tom as to how this exquisite miniature came to be. He replied as follows: “If you look at the complex parentage of ‘Diamond Eyes’, you’ll see that my goal was a purple miniature climber. The sister seedlings were all over the map on habit: large-flowered climbers, mini climbers, shrubby types, etc. But there was one sister that held a true miniature habit, going back to its great grandparent, Baby Love.” He continued, “The depth of the velvet purple color was accentuated by the white eye, hence the name. The clove fragrance goes way way back in its bloodlines to the Rosa californica in International Herald Tribune. None of the other sisters made much impact. Yet ‘Diamond Eyes’ was truly novel as a new Mini.”
‘Diamond Eyes’ is classified by the American Rose Society as a mauve or mauve blend (m), and its blooms are a rich purple velvet. Its elegant blossoms begin as petite, pointed, shapely buds, which unfurl to form dramatic, intensely hued decorative blooms, highlighted by a stunning white “eye” and bright yellow stamens. They are literally hypnotic at their most perfect stage of beauty, which are as open blooms. Their color eventually fades to a dull purple and the petals drop away cleanly. Each striking blossom measures about 1 ½ inches across. They present as both one bloom per stem and in sprays of four or more blossoms. The dazzling dark purple hue with the brilliant white eye is really captivating, and garden visitors will love it. Weeks Roses notes that “Her sparkling white ‘eye’ lights up each velvety blossom, making the unique color illuminate against the background of glossy green leaves.” It is a unique color combination in a miniature rose that stands out against the cloak of lustrous green leaves. Of note, as the weather becomes cooler, the blossoms become a darker velvet black-purple hue, making them even more mysterious and striking. It has been well said that it creates a mesmerizing effect in the garden.
Those perfect, novel blooms are held on medium length, straight stems, which are cloaked with highly glossy, dark green foliage. This produces a healthy plant that has remarkably excellent disease resistance. This is always a plus for rose growers. In addition, remontance (rebloom factor) is very good with ‘Diamond Eyes’, and it repeats well throughout the growing seasons with exceptional freedom and continuity.
By way of growth habit, ‘Diamond Eyes’ develops into an attractive, rounded shrub, bushy, upright, hardy and of medium size. The plants generally grow to about 2 feet tall and 2 feet wide. An excellent garden rose, it mingles well with other plants in the landscape. I have also found it to be an excellent plant for container gardening. My five plants, grown on their own roots and budded onto Dr. Huey rootstock, have been thriving in 15 and 20-gallon containers. I have also seen it sold as a rose tree, which makes for an eye-catching conversation piece in the garden or on a patio. In addition, I have found that ‘Diamond Eyes’ grows equally well in full sun or in partial shade. This gives the home gardener more flexibility planting it in the garden.
‘Diamond Eyes’ presents anywhere from 18 and 32 petals, and its fully double blooms are wonderfully fragrant. The blooms present a strong clove spice scent that is uncommon in miniature roses, which more often than not have no fragrance. Therefore, if you like miniature roses but are disappointed in their general lack of fragrance, this is definitely the rose for you! Furthermore, it is easy to grow and maintain, making it a perfect rose for novice growers.
For the exhibitors among us, ‘Diamond Eyes’ has already begun to make its mark on the show table. It works wonderfully for entries in the decorative miniature class, as a miniature spray, an open bloom, in a picture frame, an English Box or in a floating bowl. It also has great potential for use in arrangements. There are many possibilities for ‘Diamond Eyes’ as a show rose.
In conclusion, ‘Diamond Eyes’ will be a perfect addition to any rosarian’s collection, adding vibrant color, fragrance and enchantment to your garden. It delivers “pops” of brilliant purple color on a generously floriferous plant, making a dramatic statement in the garden. It is commercially available, and so you may be able to find it at your local nursery. It is also available online by mail order from High Country Roses, Edmund’s Roses and Regan Nursery, to name a few locations. Whoever wrote that “good things come in small packages” certainly could have had ‘Diamond Eyes’ in mind. Although it is small in stature, this diminutive miniature rose packs a big impact into a little package. It will perfume your garden and steal your heart.