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In the Beginning ... Part II.

We've all ready discussed the tremendous impact Ralph Moore has had on the world of miniature roses, so I would like to focus on the impact that Pedro Dot of Spain, Jan de Vink of Holland and Francis Meilland of France had on the development and expansion of Miniature roses in the beginning.

Pedro Dot (1885-1976)

Pedro Dot was born in 1885 near Barcelona, Spain and in that Mediterranean paradise he lived nearly his entire life. He came by his interest in roses quite naturally as his father was a gardener on a great Spanish estate.

After a brief apprenticeship in Spain, he spent time in France and Belgium in the company of men well-versed in the art and science of breeding roses.

By 1915, he returned to Spain to work in his father's nursery breeding roses and utilizing the various techniques he learned while working in the Bagatelle gardens. His experiences there allowed him to put to good use the ability to evaluate roses under trial.

Due in large part to the outstanding climate in San Filieu de Llobregat, Pedro did his hybridizing in the out of doors rather than in a greenhouse setting.

He realized that once the mother or seed parent had been emasculated (having the pollen stalks & petals removed) the stigmas were unripe but still needed protection against pollen being deposited by wind or insects.

Therefore a 'chastity' belt was necessary and he devised a simple paper cone, slipped over the flower head and tied to the peduncle. He then broke off the father pollen parent, removed its petals and sepals and stuffed it, inverted, at the top of the paper cone. This allowed a steady shower of pollen onto the stigma without removing the cones within their paper 'harems'.

Pedro set about to satisfy the particular Spanish taste for bright colors and strong flower stalks. In 1932 he introduced his first salmon pink and yellow rose, 'Francisco Curbera' a hybrid tea. Robert Pyle realized early on the uniqueness of the Dot roses and began introducing them in the United States in the 1920's.

Dot continued his breeding programs and continued to register new hybrid teas of extraordinary color mutations. In 1922, Henri Correvon of Geneva introduced a rose called 'Rouletii' which became the precursor of most of the miniature roses that were to follow. The term 'miniature' rose was not in popular use at the time, but those early breeders recognized it as the most definable attribute of being a unique 'novelty'.

Dot saw miniatures in a different light than his contemporaries. He wanted to explore the possibility of breeding hybrid teas with 'Rouletti', thereby capturing the classic hybrid tea form in miniature.

Dot's breeding program had many hurdles to overcome and not all of them were horticultural in nature. The Spanish Civil War impacted his breeding efforts while World War II began a mere six months after the Civil War ended in 1939. His next introductions had to await their debut until 1947. Robert Pyle introduced 'Baby Gold Star' in America in 1940.

One of Dot's best miniatures was 'Pour Toi' introduced in 1946 by Meilland and in 1951, Meilland introduced 'Rosina' but Pedro will always be remembered for his tiny miniature, the smallest of all, that he christened 'Si' in 1957.

When Pedro Dot died on November 12, 1976 at the age of 91, he had introduced 178 roses, not all of them miniature. By then his son, Simon and grandsons Jordi and Albert were well on their way to hybridizing outstanding roses and continuing a grand tradition of rose breeding.

Jan de Vink (1888-1974)

Jan de Vink was born and educated in the nursery region of Boskoop, Holland where he was budding roses by the time he was ten years old. He began breeding miniatures in 1930 despite some disparaging remarks by some breeders who saw no commercial value and made him the butt of their jokes.

While 'Tom Thumb' (1936) was de Vink's first successful hybrid, many other hybridizers continued to use it in their breeding program to produce outstanding miniatures. De Vink's initial variety in 1934 was sent to Robert Pyle and was introduced in 1936 as the first patented miniature rose in America.

Jan de Vink recognized the possibility of using 'Rouletii' to develop a line of fairy roses. He crossed 'Rouletii' with dwarf Polyanthas and raised a series of miniatures that were introduced in America under such names as 'Cinderella' (1953), 'Simple Simon' (1955), 'Baby Bunting' (1953), 'Bo-Peep' (1950), 'Red Imp' (1951), 'Red Elf' (1949), and 'Midget' (1941). 'Cinderella' would go on to be named to the prestigious Miniature Hall of Fame in 2000.

World War II was a very difficult time for Jan. His land and nursery were taken over and used for food production during the occupation. Had it not been for the Conard-Pyle Company in America, de Vink's roses and breeding efforts might have been lost.

While Star Roses offered his roses for the American market, the English nursery firm of Thomas Robinson introduced some of de Vink's later miniatures, named after nursery rhyme characters. These included 'Simple Simon', 'Willie Winkie' (1955) and 'Humpty Dumpty' in 1952.

In 1974 Jan de Vink died, but his efforts to breed outstanding miniature roses left an indelible mark on the miniature rose industry.

Francis Meilland (1912-1958)

Not as well known as Dot and de Vink, Francis Meilland of France, also left his mark on the world of miniature roses when he introduced 'Cricri' and 'Colibri'. It was a rather bittersweet accomplishment as these weren't released to the market until after his death in 1958.

After nearly ten years of testing in test gardens all over the world, only a few roses were eventually introduced. From 1958 to 1976 only a dozen Meilland miniatures were brought to the market. These were to include 'Starina', 'Scarlet Gem', 'Mimi' and 'Chipper'.

Meilland's also used multiple cuttings per pot to present a fuller, lusher looking plant to the consumer. The vibrant colors of the Sunblaze series raised the bar among nurseries world-wide.

Exclusive names found Meillands using 'Little' in the names of twenty-five roses and 'Baby' was used for about fifteen introductions.

Meillands was also one of the first breeders to step up to the plate and develop and market the Minifloras. They originally called these roses Meillandina, but it wasn't long before Conard-Pyle consolidated and promoted these roses under the banner of Miniflora.

The search for new, novel varieties goes on as the Miniature and Mini-flora roses continue to gain popularity both in the garden and on the show table.

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