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In a recent article, Sean McCann, quoting Eleanor Roosevelt, wrote , "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams". If ever there was a person who lived up to this, it was surely Ralph Moore. His determination to pursue his dreams combined with an uncommon openness about how he was going about his work has inspired and guided generations of rose breeders who have taken the new roses evolved by him and realized their own dreams.
In 2006 Girija and I had an opportunity to meet Ralph at his nursery in Visalia CA. I must confess that there was a certain uncertainty since I did not know what to expect when an amateur rose breeder meets such a renowned one. But Ralph had taken our visit very seriously indeed. Even at the age of 99 he had ascertained what kind of work I had been doing in rose breeding-obviously someone had told him of my breeding with R.gigantea and R.clinophylla. When we met him he made us most welcome and being well aware of the difficulties of trying to hybridize with new species, he gave us book of his poems, in which he had inscribed " You have to go out on a limb, for that is where the fruit is'.
Demonstrating further his extraordinary capacity to support other people's dreams, he took the trouble of searching among his seedlings and selecting two unreleased ones, he insisted I took them with me for use in my work.
After the visit, which was under the aegis of many of the members of the Gold Coast Group, under the leadership of Mel Hulse, we all repaired for lunch at a nearby restaurant, where Ralph surprised us by demolishing a pretty big strawberry fruit cake, apparently a favorite of his. A complete man indeed!
He honored us by spending so much quality time with us, sharing freely of his knowledge, and discussing strategies with me, giving helpful advice and suggestions. We have the happiest memories of that day.
We, along with other rose growers in India, will miss him, as will rose lovers the world over.
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