The Great ‘Fairhope’

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‘Fairhope’ National Miniature Queen of The Show. Photo by Dona Martin.

In 1989, Pete and Kay Taylor would raise the miniature rose exhibition bar when they introduced ‘Fairhope’- a light yellow miniature rose that has impeccable form and was larger than the typical miniature bloom. The Taylors used the mauve hybrid tea ‘Azure Sea’ with an unnamed seedling to create ‘Fairhope’, which was named for their hometown in Alabama. Miniature rose exhibitors would consider 1989 as perhaps the single greatest year because not only was ‘Fairhope’ introduced but so was ‘Irresistible’- a heavily petaled exhibition white rose that is ultra vigorous and very floriferous (hybridized by Dee Bennett).

Rafiq and Suni Bolar of Hillsborough, NJ recently won the Miniature Queen of the Show at the 2013 Miniature National Rose Show in Winston-Salem, NC with ‘Fairhope’. Reaction at the show to ‘Fairhope’ seemed mixed ranging from “Wow” to “Ho-hum”. I wondered, “Why the mixed reaction to ‘Fairhope’ winning Miniature Queen of Show?” Perhaps the answer lies in the history of ‘Fairhope’ as an exhibition rose.

2013 Mini Queen Fairhope Bolars

‘Fairhope’ Miniature Queen of Show at the 2013 Miniature National rose Show in Winston-Salem, NC awarded to Rafiq and Suni Bolar. Photo by Andrew Hearne.

Rose shows of yesteryear were larger and more competitive. Being the top rated miniature exhibition rose, almost every exhibitor grew ‘Fairhope’. At some shows when a ‘Fairhope’ won Queen often the second and even third best miniature roses were the red ribbon and yellow ribbon ‘Fairhopes’. I think locally Peder Heden, the fantastic grower and exhibitor from Columbia, MD, used to show ‘Fairhope’ better than anyone else here in the Mid-Atlantic. Peder was known for his hybrid teas, but won more than his share of miniature Queens. Looking at the film prints from rose shows 15 years ago I am still amazed how large and perfect on such majestic stems some of his ‘Fairhope’ Queens were. I even won my first ever miniature Queen with a nice specimen of ‘Fairhope’ in 2007 at the Philadelphia Rose Show. However, I would be kidding myself if I even thought it could compete with some of the ‘Fairhope’ Queens shown by Peder or Joe Yelinek back in the 90s. Frankly, mine wasn’t in the same class of good.

At Winston-Salem this fall it was the 13th time ‘Fairhope’ won Miniature Queen of Show with 6 of those coming at the Miniature National Rose Show (see table below). ‘Fairhope’ was the #1 rated exhibition rose for 11 straight years from 1996-2006 until ‘Bees Knees’ took over the top spot. The great ‘Irresistible’ was the top rated exhibition rose for 1 year and amazingly finished as the #2 rated exhibition rose every year when ‘Fairhope’ was #1.  As of June 30, 2013 ‘Fairhope’ has 479 recorded queens which is 191 more than ‘Irresistible’ which has the second most. Both were inducted into the Miniature Rose Hall of Fame in 2008 in their first year of eligibility.

2013 Suni and Rafiq Bolar

Rafiq and Suni Bolar win the miniature Queen of Show at the 2013 Winston-Salem National. This is the 13th National Miniature Queen was won by ‘Fairhope’. Photo by Andrew Hearne

Currently, the top-rated miniature is ‘Joy’- the awesome pink blend miniature rose hybridized by David Clemons of Grant, Alabama. ‘Joy’ recorded 20 queens and 244 total points in 2012. In 2000, ‘Fairhope’ recorded 42 Queens and a whopping 549 points. It is unfair to compare the two roses as there were far more rose shows in 2000 compared to 2012 (the unfortunate state of decline of Rose Societies). I honestly don’t think you can historically compare ‘Joy’ and ‘Fairhope’. ‘Fairhope’ is a legendary exhibition rose that is perhaps past its prime as an exhibition rose– it ranked 4th in 2012 and had 8 recorded Miniature Queens of Show). ‘Joy’ is the current dominant miniature rose recording the most Queens in each of the last 3 years (57 total) and is dominating in an era where there are more high quality exhibition miniature roses. ‘Joy’ blooms have better holding power and has also won more best miniature rose sprays (46) than any other over the past 3 years. On the other hand, the ‘Fairhopes’ of yesteryear I feel are better than most of the recent ones here in the Mid-Atlantic.

‘Joy’ along with other newer and fresher roses bring excitement that “older” roses like ‘Fairhope’ can not match. Newer roses have little or no history for exhibitors and judges to measure against. I think exhibitors and even judges can be jaded after seeing many great specimens of a given variety instead of enjoying and admiring the specimens that are at the show.

Fairhope as National Queen
Year Season Exhibitor(s) Hometown Awarded at
1992 Fall Dr. & Mrs. Paul Klinefelter Waldo, OH Columbus, OH
1994 Spring Tim & Bonnie Scoville Poway, CA San Diego, CA
1996 Fall Steve Singer Kenosha, WI St. Louis, MO
1998 Fall Don & Sara Jo Gill Nashville, TN Charlotte, NC
1999 Mini Don & Mary Myers Wilmington, DE Fresno, CA
2000 Fall Doug & Ann Baker Columbia, SC Atlanta, GA
2001 Mini Jim & Anne Hering Marion, OH Boston, MA
2002 Mini Sandy & Bob Lundberg Bluffton, SC Columbus, OH
2007 Mini Ray Guillebeau Jacksonille, FL Charlotte, NC
2007 Fall Paul & Gerri Guerino Elmhurst, IL St. Louis, MO
2008 Mini Sandy & Bob Lundberg Bluffton, SC Oklahoma City, OK
2010 Spring Sam & Mary Renfroe Fairhope, AL Shreveport, LA
2013 Mini Rafiq & Dr. Suni Bolar Hillsborough, NJ Winston-Salem, NC

3 thoughts on “The Great ‘Fairhope’

  1. Andrew.
    You are correct on two points, shows are declining the world over and not just rose shows. When I joined the British National Chrysanthemum Society in 1972 they had 14,000 members now they have around 800.
    Your other point about judges judging what’s in front of them and not bringing any preconceived ideas with them is very important, but this doesn’t always happen unfortunately.

      • I visited Longwood last November, I had to forego our last show to make it before the chrysanthemum exhibition closed.
        There’s a guy called Richard Murrcott, you can get to his website off Long Island Chrysanthemum Society’s website. There’s an article on there that he’s written, entitled ‘Where have all the growers gone’ Now he lives in New York and I live in a little sleepy valley in South Wales called the Rhondda Valley. I could have written that article, its exactly the same over here. I’m off to visit chrysanthemum societies in New Zealand at the end of November. They are down to 74 members in the whole country. I’m afraid its the same the world over.

        I went to our last rose show of the season on Saturday. They only had classes for miniatures and no miniflora’s, but I took what miniflora’s I had just in case I was short of a bloom or two as we do not get penalised as long as they are not too big. I used one or two but brought most of them back on Sunday evening. By last night (Tuesday) they had all blown except for one bloom. There were about 30 minifloras and about 10 miniatures. After everything had blown there was one bloom of one variety left intact. Guess which bloom was the last to blow.

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