by Diane Sommers, ARS Vice-President 2018-2021
When Rita first asked me to write about my favorite rose I thought it sounded like a fun idea.
Then I realized that this is a tough question! You may recall in 2014 when I wrote an article on my top 10 miniature/minifloras for the ARS Rose Annual that there were really more than 10. So I have pondered this question for a couple of months since Rita first presented it to me. By nature, I have taken a structured, analytical approach to identifying my favorite rose. I first decided it needed to be a miniature rose. Why?? When I was first introduced to this rose “hobby”, I fell in love with miniature roses. Our local rose society had an annual sale, with miniature roses in 2” pots sold for a small price. They were low cost, easy to plant, provided lots of bloom all summer, and being on their own roots, survived Wisconsin winters with minimal or no winter protection. I remember local society members amazed at my miniature/miniflora collection over the years and the wonderful display they put on all summer. Neighbors walking by would stop for a tour of my rose garden which included a large rose garden in the front yard. My first rose show - year one of my membership with the Waukesha Rose Society - I won Miniature King with a miniature rose. I still remember the excitement. A few years later I attended my first ARS National Convention - a Mini National Conference in Columbus and won two trophies for minifloras - at a time when they weren’t recognized as an official class by ARS. I developed many rose friendships over the years, some close by and some far away because of my interest in miniatures. It was years later that I ran our annual miniature rose sale for the local rose society (one of my favorite activities of the year), grew over 250 miniature/minifloras in my garden, and chaired the 2010 ARS Miniature Rose Show in Milwaukee. My rose hobby and interest in roses started with miniature roses. But which one is my favorite??
Oh geez - I don’t know. A standout in my garden was always Irresistible. It seemed as if I was always competing against Fairhope - the “other” white mini at the time in rose shows. I couldn’t grow Fairhope well (but tried) but Irresistible was another story. Each year it would easily grow to 3 - 4 feet, I would not provide any winter protection, cut it to the ground in spring and it would rise up. So many blooms, entered in many different classes at the show. Most of my rose friends knew if there was an Irresistible in the show, it was probably entered by me and had a good chance at winning. I always had at least one vase of it in my home too.
Over the years, I have expanded to grow many other rose classes and enjoy them all. I lost Irresistible when we built our next home in 2014. Two years ago, I was able to capture it back, from a good friend and outstanding rosarian, Bob Woodworth. Upon his passing, his miniature roses were shared through a silent auction. It is again standing tall in my garden, and not only gives me memories of all those rose shows, rose friends and fun activities, but also of Bob. I can’t imagine ever knowing as much about roses as Bob did.
Irresistible was hybridized by Dee Bennett and introduced in1989. A tall plant, Irresistible often has sprays as well as single blooms, is fairly disease resistant and winter hardy. It was a Miniature Hall of Fame Winner in 2008. If you don’t grow it - you should!