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I could write chapters full of stories extolling the generosity, kindness, gentility & humanity of Ralph Moore. To say that we're going to miss him has such an empty ring to it. It's much more than that. I count my lucky stars for every moment that could be spent with Ralph. His knowledge and enthusiasm was infectious. He could make anyone love roses in just a few moments.
As a youngster enamored with rose breeding, I had heard of Ralph through my friendship with Ernie Williams in Texas. Ernie was the closest rose breeder to my home town. So I pestered him a lot. And he was quick to feed my imagination about this amazing person in faraway Visalia, California. On the very year I embarked on my career in roses, Ralph introduced Stars 'n' Stripes I enthusiastically showed it to Bill Warriner (my boss from Jackson & Perkins at the time) saying, 'We should breed for striped roses.' Bill said 'Are you crazy?! No one would buy striped roses.'…promptly putting me in my place.
In the next four years, I came to know Herb Swim through the local rose societies. Herb introduced me to the person who would soon become my new boss, Jack Christensen of Armstrong Nurseries. They were both was much more accepting of new avenues in roses. And, in turn, Jack become my connection to finally actually meet Mr. Moore. We would visit Ralph often, sharing great times and imagining great ideas. It was Jack's sweet ways and gentle manner that convinced Ralph to release one of his fertile striped seedlings to Armstrong (Pinstripe). From there the world of striped roses exploded.
But you all know, Ralph was never a man of a single idea. Not all the world was stripped. He juggled hypothetical hybridizing thoughts with a mastery, going off in wild long-term directions that no commercial breeder could rightfully economically explore. It was that wonderful imagination that gave so much to rose history. World-wide, Ralph was respected as a great mentor of the rose and scholar of horticulture. His work with cherries, crepe myrtles, junipers, etc. attest to that. Every plant in Sequoia Nursery was an old friend, having grown through the pot long ago, squeezing out a spot amongst all the other competition.
Even on our last visit in 2008 with my assistant Christian Bédard, the nursery was closing down but Ralph was imagining what we would see in roses 5 to 10 years from now….and we were willing to believe…because it was Ralph. He will always be with us in hundreds of gardens and memories. We wish him good rest.
Director of Research & Marketing
Photo: Ralph Moore with hybridizers Christian Bedard and Tom Carruth. Photo courtesy of Linda Burg.
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