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.
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.
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|
|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|