My Favorite Frank Benardella Roses by Stacey Catron

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‘Leading Lady’. Photo by Stacey Catron.

Stacey Catron is an accredited American Rose Society Judge and won the 2003 National Miniature Queen of Show with ‘Arcanum’. While currently inactive from exhibiting over the past several years to enjoy family activities, we hope Stacey will eventually come back to exhibiting roses again.  

Ever since I started growing roses for competition, I’ve grown Frank Benardella’s roses. I did not buy the last batch of introductions (i.e. ‘Powerpoint’, ‘Ambiance’, etc.) as I’ve been having trouble with deer in my rose garden and don’t want to plant new until that is under control.

‘Soroptimist International’ – Although in my garden it is really too big to be a mini, I love this rose. The range of coloration depending on the weather is amazing. The plant always has lots of blooms, sometimes one to a stem and at other times huge sprays. It winters well here in NJ. None of Frank’s miniatures/minifloras that I grow are disease resistant; this one tolerates black spot well. It is one of my banker minis and it always wins something at the shows.

‘Hilde’ –  This full-figured miniature has a lot of petals and holds exhibition form almost ¾ open. The white with hot pink/red edges are a common color for Frank’s minis but still nonetheless makes for stunning blooms. This variety isn’t a vigorous grower nor does it winter reliably, but the beauty of the blooms and its ability to win at shows keeps it in my garden.

‘Leading Lady’ – This rose will always have a place in my heart. I grew it for many years as ‘BENuno’. It makes a nice sized plant with many blooms, most with beautiful exhibition form. I took a photo of a really good bloom and e-mailed it to Frank. He liked the photo. Later I found the photo in American Rose in Sean McCann’s column! The photo (along with other’s comments) convinced Frank to enter the rose in AoE (Award of Excellence) trials. Frank claimed it was too big for a miniature. Thankfully the miniflora category was adopted and ‘Leading Lady’ was commercially introduced. It winters well and tolerates disease better than most minis/minifloras.

‘Show Stopper’ – This is another of Frank’s roses that I grew before it was introduced, under the name ‘BENseah’. I took a photo of this one and sent it to him. He later told me that my photo convinced him to put it in the AoE (Award of Excellence) trials. Although the color can be a rather bland fleshy-pink and the plant black spots horribly, the blooms have amazing form and it survives the winters well.

‘Ruby’ – The blooms are a ruby-red with perfect form. The plant is vigorous and gets tall for a miniature. It has good disease resistance and winters well. The plant blooms well. Unfortunately, the blooms are on the small side for current miniature exhibition rose tastes and will get overlooked on the show tables.

I have many of Frank Benardella’s other roses (‘Dr. Tommy Cairns’, ‘Liberty Bell’, ‘Solar Flair’, ‘Jilly Jewel’, ‘Kristin’, ‘Baby Boomer’, etc.) and all are worthy of a place in my garden. I look forward to adding the most current introductions to my garden this spring.

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