COLLEGE STATION – In the world of miniature roses, Ralph S. Moore has been called father, patron saint, and even king. Add benefactor.
Moore, whose 101st birthday is Monday, is donating all of his breeding stock to Texas A&M University’s horticultural sciences department to assure continued research in miniature roses.
Texas A&M already operates a rose breeding program and maintains the Robert E. Basye Endowed Chair in Rose Breeding. Moore’s collection will expand the breeding effort beyond traditional varieties of roses to include the miniature types.
In addition to all remaining plants and breeding stock, Moore’s gift includes 80 rose patents, a book collection and an unspecified cash contribution for program operation.
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.
Moore will close his 71-year-old Sequoia Nursery in Visalia, Calif. but will collaborate with Dr. David Byrne, rose breeder and Bayse chairholder, as a consultant.
Together they plan to continue development of new varieties, and the University intends to commercialize the gifted intellectual property rights so that Moore’s roses will continue to be available.
“I am excited by this opportunity and the partnership with Texas A&M,” Moore said. “Obviously, I have a lot of respect for the rose breeding program Dr. Byrne has created there.”
From the time he opened the nursery in 1937, Moore worked to develop more than 300 varieties of miniature roses, according to the American Rose Society.
Byrne believes the donation will significantly boost the rose program by enabling more breeding and genetics research and increasing undergraduate and graduate student involvement.
Opportunities to join Moore in this effort will be available through ongoing commercialization efforts and philanthropy of those who share his interest, he said.
“Texas A&M could become the world center of excellence in woody plant breeding and genetics,” Byrne said. “We will be able to improve our research facilities and continue to develop miniature roses which are very compact and adaptable to home landscapes.”
“Gifts that combine intellectual property and operating resources provide a win-win situation for our faculty,” said Dr. Mark Hussey, interim dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director of Texas AgriLife Research. “This gracious gift from Mr. Moore will allow us to make significant advancements in this critical green industry.”
Information about Texas A&M’s rose breeding program and for opportunities to contribute in support of this effort can be found at http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/rose/index.html .