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To Name a Rose

by Ralph Moore, “Father of Modern Miniature Roses,” recipient 20 American Rose Society Awards of Excellence

Originally published in the 1976 ARS Annual

All photos by Rich Baer


How do we go about selecting a name for a new rose? This question is asked many times, so I will attempt to tell how some of our Miniatures got their names.


To find just the right name sometimes is not easy. On the other hand, a name often comes before we even have the new rose! Such a name may be suggested by a friend, a customer - even by some chance remark. Again, the name may be suggested by something 1 read: an advertisement, a news item, a billboard - even the dictionary. (ABOVE: 'Magic Carrousel')


Now, to be specific, I will recite some actual names of our Miniature roses and how such names came to be selected. Going back a few years -- there were a number of new seedlings selected out of the cross of (Rom wichuraiana X ‘Floradora’) X (‘Oakington Ruby’ X Florabunda). One, a good growing plant with rich red flowers was being observed one day while I was watering a bed of plants grown from the first propagation from the original seedling. This was indeed a variety worthy of introduction. As I pondered, a tune came to mind and the words, “Little Buckaroo.” Thus a new rose got its name and the variety later won a Certificate of Merit and the Silver Medal at the International Trials at The Hague (Holland).


Later, another rose of the same cross was named ‘Tiny Jack’ and its sister variety was named ‘Tiny Jill’ - to satisfy a distributor who wanted the word “tiny” in the two varieties they were planning to introduce.


'Pink Joy’ (LEFT) was named to honor a favorite niece whose name was Joyce - but that name had already been used. The name ‘Lollipop’was selected for another variety because the bright red flowers suggested colorful lollipops.


One of our wholesale customers wanted to feature a rose to be named for the winner of the Miss Tan America Beauty Pageant held in Dallas, Texas. Thus the name, ‘Willie Mae’, named for the winner, Miss Willie Mae Johnson, of Washington, D. C.


The name ‘Yellow Bantam’ was borrowed from a small yellow chrysanthemum. ‘Fringette’ was the name of an African violet. ‘Frostfire’, a red Miniature with white flecks, was named from a silverware pattern. The bright orange-red color of another rose suggested the name ‘Little Fireball’. ‘Tiny Flame’ was just that - a very tiny rose with red-orange flame color. A profusely flowering white rose suggested the creamy white color of whipped cream so ‘Whipped Cream’ became the name.


When three tiny buds of a new yellow Miniature rose were held by the young lady for whom the rose ‘Dian’ was named, she exclaimed that they were “just like a bit of sunshine,” hence, the name ‘Bit O’ Sunshine', the buds of another yellow Miniature suggested beads in a necklace, so it became ‘Yellow Necklace’. ‘Yellow Doll’ was a natural - the name had been selected some time earlier with the hope that someone else would not use it, so when the “right” rose came along it already had a name. Still later the deeper yellow Miniature was selected from a new batch of seedlings and ‘Gold Coin’ became the name.


‘Mona Ruth’ is our younger daughter and ‘Eleanor’ is named for our older daughter. ‘Debbie’ is a granddaughter. ‘Little Mike’ and ‘Little Curt’ are grandsons. Others such as ‘Janice’, ‘Judy Fischer’, and ‘Mary Adair’ are named for very special young ladies.


‘Pink Cameo’ with its near perfect pink buds suggested the tiny perfection of a cameo locket and ‘Hi Ho’ just sounded nice (and had not been used on a rose)! ‘Candy Cane’ (LEFT) with its stripes suggested an old-fashioned candy cane so that became the name of the only striped Miniature to date.


Another excellent Miniature with its copper pink buds resembled a shiny new penny so ‘New Penny’ became the name. When looking for a good name for one of the whitest little roses we had seen, only the name ‘Frosty’ would do. Yet another white Miniature with delightful very double flowers constantly suggested the freshness of an Easter lily so the name ‘Easter Morning’ was selected. By a similar token, another new white seedling suggested the white vapor trails left by jet planes as they flew overhead so it became ‘Jet Trail’.


‘Beauty Secret’ was picked from a line in a cosmetics ad. The color of ‘Candy Pink’ suggested the pink cotton candy seen at the fair or circus. While she was still a teenager, Jeanie Williams was giving members of the Dallas, Texas Rose Society a good bit of competition. She and her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Williams, became good friends of ours about this time, so to honor this fine young lady, the new ‘Talisman’-colored Miniature was named ‘Jeanie Williams’.


‘Janna’ and ‘Kathy’ are “adopted” granddaughters of the writer, so two very fine little roses were named. Interestingly enough, Kathy picked the red rose and Janna chose the pink variety as their favorites before either knew these roses were to bear their names.


Interesting little stories are behind a number of the other Miniature roses also. The unique coloring (a first among Miniatures) of a new seedling being groomed for introduction led to the selection of the name ‘Bewitched’ (LEFT). Application for registration of the name was made only to learn that it had just been granted for use on Dr. Lammert’s new pink HT rose. Then the name ‘Toy Clown’ was proposed - which we think was even more appropriate. ‘Toy Clown’ was later (1971) given the ARS Gold Certificate.


After many years of work to develop a Miniature rose with “moss” on the buds, one finally appeared among some seedlings of an unnamed Moss rose hybrid X the Miniature, ‘New Penny’. While not as mossy as hoped for, this new pink rose did have Miniature characteristics and habit of growth and the buds did have some “moss” (which is really a modified thorn formation with numerous oil glands), and the moss gave forth the unique moss odor when the buds were rubbed or pressed between the fingers. So to make a long story short, the name ‘Fairy Moss’ (LEFT) was selected to illustrate that here was a rose which was both Miniature and Moss.


But sometimes one may get a surprise dividend. From seeds of ‘Fairy Moss’ came a new even smaller Miniature rose which had a lovely little flower of 5 pink petals - and the tiny pointed buds were very mossy. What should be the name of such a lovely new rose? About this time one of my customers, Mr. Louis B. Powell of Memphis, Tennessee, wrote telling me that his little granddaughter wished there could be a rose with her name on it. Those of you who have seen a picture of this little girl, will understand why the name ‘Kara’ (which means “dear one”) was selected as the name of this dear little rose. (LEFT: 'Toy Clown')


From a cross (‘Baccara’ X ‘Eleanor’) made several years ago, two- bright colored seedlings were chosen. The first was given the name ‘Fire Princess’ because its small flowers of brilliant orange-red color suggested glowing embers from an ancient altar fire - possibly presided over by some pagan princess.


The second selection from this cross also needed a similarly appropriate name. Again, as often happens the name came from a totally unexpected “happening.” While attending a nursery refresher course at Cal. Poly State University at San Luis Obispo, Calif., I chanced to meet a young lady student in horticulture. At the time we had just named and were introducing the ‘Judy Fischer’ rose, and so among other questions she asked if Miniature roses could be grown in her country. Not knowing where she was from I asked. Her reply, “Iran - that’s the old Persia to you.” So one thing led to another. I conferred with Dr. Howard Brown, head of the O.H. Dept, and learned that she was sometimes referred to by fellow students as “Princess.” A year later (in cooperation with the O.H. Dept.) as a surprise presentation, the variety ‘Persian Princess’ was christened at the Awards Banquet of the Ornamental Horticulture Dept, at Cal. Poly. So a lovely rose got its name and many of you have had the pleasure of meeting Ghazaleh (Rouhani) Movassaghi whom my wife and I have had as our guest at several rose conventions, including the national in San Francisco (1971). Our “Princess” now lives in Tehran, Iran.


Because the dainty orange-apricot buds of another new Miniature seemed to suggest something a little girl would like, it became ‘Tea Party’. A new orange blend Miniature seedling was always admired by our good friends, Don and Mary Marshall, when they visited our nursery - so it became ‘Mary Marshall’. ‘Fiesta Gold’ suggested its own name. The always-changing colors of soft to deeper yellow of the buds, often splashed with orange or soft shades of red - plus the long, graceful sepals seemed to give it a fiesta air.


There appeared to be no more appropriate name for the new white Miniature we were observing (which astonishingly turned to soft green!) than ‘ Green Ice’ (LEFT). I like names which seem to “just fit.” As I watched an especially fine new multi-color seedling develop, a bit of a tune would always come to my mind. The name seemed to fit - but was it too long? However, the name seemed so appropriate and it wouldn’t go away! The name: ‘Over the Rainbow’.


A sister seedling to ‘Over the Rainbow’ should have at least as nice a name, especially since it was just as unique. We already had ‘Toy Clown’, so since this new rose was similar to its color combinations and the colors on the open flower seemed to go round and round, it became ‘Magic Carrousel’ (LEFT).


The delightful peach pink sport of ‘Mary Adair’ became ‘Nancy Hall’ to honor the little sweetheart of the Dallas, Texas National Convention. And, speaking of angels, when the petite little white Miniature we had been watching for several years was ready to make its debut, what more fitting name could be suggested than, ‘White Angel’? So the search for new varieties goes on, and with it the need to find just the “right” name to fit the new stars of the show.

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