Treasure Trail: The Charm of a Modern Moss Rose
by Suzanne M. Horn, Master Rosarian, Pacific Rose Society
This article was first published in the Pacific Rose and is a 2016 Award of merit winner.
Our featured rose this month is a superb reblooming modern Moss Rose called ‘Treasure Trail’. It was bred in 2002 by a gifted hybridizer of Old Garden Roses, Paul Barden, who has introduced countless unique and charming roses to the market. Its registration name is Ardrum, and it is a cross of Condoleezza x Scarlet Moss ™ (miniature, Moore, 1988). It is no surprise that Mr. Barden utilized Scarlet Moss in his breeding of this rose, since Ralph Moore began introducing many repeat blooming miniature moss roses back in 1948. ‘Treasure Trail’ was subsequently introduced into commerce in 2009 by Rogue Valley Roses, and it is a much sought-after variety. Rogue Valley Roses notes it is one of the most unique roses in their collection of over 1500 varieties, which is certainly saying something. LEFT: 'Treasure Trail' bloom - garden of Suzanne Horn, photo by Suzanne Horn
The very knowledgeable Bob Martin is a big fan of this rose, as am I. Regarding the breeding of ‘Treasure Trail’, he notes, "Scarlet Moss is itself descended from Fairy Moss, a Moore miniature; and Dortmund, a very important Hybrid Kordesii that you will find on both sides of the parentage of Fairy Moss. As a Hybrid Kordesii, Dortmund has very glossy disease-resistant foliage, a trait it has passed down to ‘Treasure Trail’. Fairy Moss was bred by Ralph Moore from a moss seedling in 1959 that Moore called simply 12-59-10. It was a cross of the floribunda Pinocchio x William Lobb, a significant Moss rose from 1855 also known as Old Velvet Moss." ABOVE: 'Treasure Trail' 2 blooms - garden of Suzanne Horn, photo by Suzanne Horn
Bob further notes, "William Lobb is the source of the moss that carries through to Treasure
Trail and supports Paul Barden’s classification of ‘Treasure Trail’ as a Moss rose. ‘Condoleeza’ is a Moore floribunda that is reported to have mossed buds and also has Fairy Moss in its breeding. It is therefore possible that the genes for the moss of Treasure Trail came through the seed parent Condoleezza." RIGHT: 'Treasure Trail' bloom - garden of Suzanne Horn, photo by Suzanne Horn.
As a Moss Rose, ‘Treasure Trail’ falls into the Old Garden Rose category, and those of us who exhibit roses will need to show it in the Victorian class. To date, I have won nine trophies with it including four Victorian Awards and its inclusion in two District Challenge Classes. It is one of my favorites. ‘Treasure Trail’ presents the cupped-to-flat, old fashioned bloom form of a very full rosette and has a charming button eye that is nothing short of exquisite. The delicate little flowers have been said to be reminiscent of petite chrysanthemums.
The blooms on ‘Treasure Trail’ are not very large compared to most other Old Garden roses, measuring up to two and a half inches in diameter and consisting of over 40 petals. ‘Treasure Trail’ is not much bigger than a miniflora rose, with blooms reaching up to 2 1/2 inches in diameter. The eye-catching blooms are cloaked with medium, glossy, dark green, holly-like foliage, which presents between three and five leaflets. Another plus is that the flowers last a very long time, either on the bush or in a vase. ABOVE: 'Treasure Trail' plant - photo by Paul Barden, hybridizer
For me, the most striking thing about this petite Old Garden Rose is its color. It literally leaps out at you in the garden despite its diminutive size. Paul Barden has registered ‘Treasure Trail’ as a pink blend (pb), although I believe that orange-pink would be more accurate. In fact, this rose presents an extremely variable, complex color blend, much like the Heirloom climber, ‘The Impressionist’. The vivid orange-pink color is reminiscent of a Las Vegas sunrise… or a Tequila Sunrise, whichever may be your preference. Either way, it is intense and evocative of the horizon at the first break of day when shades of deep and medium pink, salmon-orange and golden yellow all blend together in beautiful concert. As you can see from the attached photographs, the outer petals often present a warm pink while the inner petals have a sort of peachy glow with a glowing golden center. ABOVE: 'Treasure Trail' bloom - garden of Suzanne Horn, photo by Suzanne Horn
The growth habit of ‘Treasure Trail’ is medium, bushy and compact, reaching two to three feet high and about three feet wide. It has the growth habit of a shrub and not the upright habit of a hybrid tea. The short and rounded plant is continuously covered with flowers. It is very well behaved and requires very little deadheading or pruning. See the attached photo of the plant of ‘Treasure Trail’, which was taken by hybridizer Paul Barden. LEFT: 'Treasure Trail' Victorian Award Winner, Pacific Rose Society Show, exhibited by Suzanne Horn, photo by Suzanne Horn
Paul notes: "The rose shown here illustrates why the plant has rounded, compact form, is foliated right to the base of the plant, and the bloom is well distributed over the entire canopy. I consider the effect to be extremely pleasing and much more attractive than the majority of Hybrid Teas that have dominated commerce for more than a century. I expect ‘Treasure Trail’ has inherited its compact nature and bloom distribution habit from both sides of its ancestry. Both are small/smallish plants with lots of branching and tend to flower on short laterals. I expect that compact, free-blooming shrubs like this are going to be easier to market in the years to come, with few people caring to invest a lot of energy into caring for a garden. Folks are going to pick one or two roses for patio pots or to integrate into a modest mixed border, and they will want a plant that doesn't require chronic manicuring in order to make a presentable plant."
Mr. Barden further notes that the specimen pictured in this article has not been pruned or shaped in any way in two seasons, and yet Mr. Barden observes that it maintains an attractive outline and continues to perform well. Moss roses are self-cleaning, meaning that they drop their flowers on their own when the blooms are spent. This makes it a relatively easy rose to care for and an excellent choice for containers. It is my experience that it takes two to three years for this rose to become fully established, but it will give you lovely little roses while you wait. LEFT: 'Treasure Trail' - Three Old Garden Roses winner, Mini National 2017, exhibited by Suzanne Horn, photo by Dona Martin
Of particular note, this rose is a prolific bloomer and features excellent “remontance”, the characteristic in plants that permits them to rebloom, generally two or more times in a season, either in distinct phases or after a rest period. This is a particularly desirable characteristic in an Old Garden Rose, many of which are “once bloomers” and only flower once a year. It presents both sprays and individual blooms.
Other desirable qualities of ‘Treasure Trail’ include the fact that it is drought resistant and heat tolerant. Although it prefers full sun, it also does well in partial shade. Furthermore, it is extremely disease resistant. I have heard reports that it can be susceptible to blackspot back East, but it is completely resistant to powdery mildew in our area.
As for its fragrance, opinions vary. I have never noticed any discernible floral fragrance from the blooms themselves, although many report a mild, apple blossom, fruity aroma. However, the small mossy buds emit a pungent scent of lemon/balsam from the mossing on the outside of the sepals. This fragrance is strongly released when the buds are stroked. The moss feels sticky to the touch and leaves its scent on your fingers. ABOVE: 'Treasure Trail' in Santa Barbara District Challenge Class winning entry, 2019 PSW District Show, exhibited by Suzanne Horn, photo by Dona Martin
Possibly the only down side to this rose is that it is extremely hard to get. The only place that carries it is Rogue Valley Roses, and they sell out of it very quickly. As such, you need to get on their waiting list to get it. However, it is well worth the wait. ‘Treasure Trail’ is easy to grow, trouble free, well behaved, hardy and lovely to behold. Few other Old Garden Roses compare with this one for repeat growth habit, compact size, ease of care, eye-catching color and sheer charm. It is an outstanding example of a Moss rose and an absolute must for the gardens of all lovers of unique roses. You are bound to treasure it! LEFT: 'Treasure Trail' bloom - garden of Suzanne Horn, photo by Suzanne Horn
2021 Post Script: Since the writing of this story, ‘Treasure Trail’ has become very successful for me at the rose shows. It has now won five Victorian Awards, a Santa Barbara District Trophy, a Vase of Three Old Garden Roses and a Judges Best In Class. It is by far my favorite Old Garden Rose.