Mr. Moore has a memory from when he was younger than three years old of his mother's roses just down the hill from their house. When he was in high school, young Ralph studied pictures in catalogs and taught himself how to propagate roses which he sold to local nurseries. In 1937, Moore opened Sequoia Nursery in Visalia, California. There is a house that fronts the property where he lives and will continue to do so as long as he wishes, after which it will belong to his son, Keith, who will move it.

Most of the research that has produced approximately 500 new roses, the majority of them miniatures, has been done at the nursery. On April 30th it closes forever. Moore has decided to give all of his plants, research, notes and as much of his wisdom as he can impart to Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, where a rose breeding program already exists. '[But] Texas A&M professor of horticulture David Byrne envisions a program that will not only use Moore's discoveries in genetics but will also continue to sell his miniature roses to the public.'[1] Byrne also plans gardens and classes because Moore was always a teacher. The property itself has been sold and the proceeds used to endow the Ralph Moore Chair at the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at the University of California, Davis.

ImageImage Image Image Moore had to get permission from Charles Schulz to name the above 3 roses after characters in the Peanuts comic strip. From left to right: 'Charlie Brown™', 'Lucy™', 'Woodstock™' 'Hope and Joy', a companion to 'Love and Peace', the rose in the opening thumbnail

There have been many honors bestowed on Mr. Moore throughout his career. The Ralph Moore Rose Garden in Visalia was dedicated to him on May 29, 2003 to honor his achievements as a rose breeder. On January 14, 2007, he celebrated his 100th birthday at the Visalia Convention Center where he received awards from the Royal National Rose Society of Great Britain and the American Rose Society along with a flag that was flown over the United States Capitol on January 8, 2007.[2] A metal sculpture of roses climbing an arbor will be placed near the Texas A&M Horticultural and Forestry Sciences Building to honor Moore's life work. His friends and family commissioned the sculpture and made donations in his honor for each of the sculpture's more than 200 metal rose buds.[3]

Image Image ImageImage 'Scarlet Moss' with closeup of the mossy buds 2 mini climbers: 'Sequoia Ruby' and 'Work of Art'

Writing is a second love of Moore's and it is how he plans to spend his retirement. He has written rose books; "All About Miniature Roses," "The Breeding and Development of Modern Moss Roses." He has also written poetry for 25 years. The book "Thoughts of Roses" is a collection of poems illustrated with pressed flower pictures. Here is one of his brief poems[4] that I particularly enjoyed.

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'Moore's Striped Rugosa'

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'Topaz Jewel'

FREEDOM

In my little spot of ground

The Lord has given me

To test some of His roses

And set their spirits free

Freedom has many faces

Some we'd like to enjoy

But freedom can come to us

With a price we must pay

So freedom can be costly

Of time, money, devotion

But the joy of giving

Makes life worth living

Ralph S. Moore

5/28/07

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'Earthquake'

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'Just For You'

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'Vineyard Song'

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'Grandma's Pink'

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'Millie Walters'

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'Precious Dream'

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'Dresden Doll'

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'Green Ice'

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'Halo™ Sunrise'

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'Halo™ Star'

Ralph Moore's official retirement date was on his birthday in January, but when I last spoke to the folks at the nursery earlier in April he was still puttering with the plants on nice days. As long as he is there with the roses I guess he will. When an interviewer asked him how a person lives to be 100, he replied "[First] live to 99, and be very careful."[5] He obviously hasn't lost his wit! The nursery closes today. Sad for those of us who wish they could order "just a few more" of Ralph Moore's roses. I just got an order of 9 beautiful little plants, one of them in bloom. Why, oh why, didn't I buy more? Hopefully, it won't be long before Texas A&M will be marketing them again. There is one question I just knew was asked in every interview... "What is your favorite of the roses you have created?"

"[My favorite rose is] the one I haven't made yet because it's perfect."

- Ralph Moore, 2008 [5]

Additional reading: Mr. Ralph Moore, King of the Miniature Roses! , article by Paul Barden at Old Garden Roses and Beyond web site.

[1] Visalia Times-Delta, January 10, 2008

[2] Wikipedia contributors, 'Ralph S. Moore', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

[3] Eurekalert.org, Texas A&M University Horticultural Communications, 11-Jan-2008, 'More roses blooming at Texas A&M, thanks to Moore'

[4] Ralph Moore's Minirama, Souvenir Edition 2008, pg 13, with permission

[5] Many of the facts in this article were taken from an interview in Tulare County Magazine, February 2008, Time Brings Roses, Dave Adalian.

All photographs are from Sequoia Nursery web site with permission; photographs of 'Hope and Joy', 'Love and Peace' and 'Moore's Striped Rugosa' are courtesy of Irene Lindsey (Images copyright Irene Lindsey, all rights reserved); photographs of 'Charlie Brown', 'Scarlet Moss', 'Sequoia Ruby', 'Topaz Jewel', 'Earthquake', 'Just for You', 'Grandma's Pink', 'Precious Dream', 'Green Ice' and 'Dresden Doll' courtesy of Paul Barden (Images copyright Paul Barden, all rights reserved).

(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on April 30, 2008. Your comments are welcome, but pelase be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to respond to your questions.)