by Ed Cunningham
Pedro Dot began his career with his father, who initially managed an estate for
the Condessa de Sastago; later his father went into his own business, where
Pedro ran the rose department. Eventually, Pedro left to start his own nursery
where he could work exclusively with roses. Dot began entering his own roses
into competition in 1924 [American Rose Magazine, 11/99, by Bunny Skran, pp.
Early in his career, he bred hybrid teas predominantly. With his hybrid teas, he
introduced a palette of clear, warm, and intense hues, which he borrowed, and
refined, from the Pernetianas. They include Condessa de Sastago from (1932) one
of the first bi-colored roses ....with strong fragrance and ruffled petals of
brilliant jewel tones of oriental red, orange and yellow..." [rosesofyesterday.com],
and Girona (1936) a fragrant and "elegant mix of soft red and rich yellow, and
all the imaginable blends of the two..." [Vintage Gardens catalogue].
Later, he devoted the bulk of his efforts to miniatures. Pedro Dot was one of
the first to cross hybrid teas with those early miniature chinas (Rouletii and
Pompon de Paris) and came up with some wonderful miniature roses. [The Quest for
the Rose by Phillips and Rix ]. "His genetic theory was to cross hybrid teas and
miniatures, thus better improving the form than the hybridizers who used the
more informal polyanthas..." [ Skran]
His first mini was Gold Star, in 1935 He also created the first micro-mini: "Si"
in 1957. "Si is considered to be the world's tiniest rose! ........ rarely
growing taller than 7 inches tall! The pale pink buds are the size of a grain of
wheat, unfurling into near-white semi-double flowers between 1/4 and « inches
across. The leaves are dark green and perfectly in proportion with the plant. It
is very well suited to growing in bonsai pots or even old teacups! It is one of
the most charming micro-miniatures in existence. Si is best grown in partial
shade, as it doesn't
like hot mid-day sun. [uncommongarden.com]
But his efforts and expertise extended further. By the 1920's, he was even
exploring species roses as a source of genetic material. He produced roses in
all of the following classes: China and Cl. China/Bengale , Cluster-flowered,
Floribunda, Hybrid Perpetual & Cl. Hybrid Perpetual, Hybrid Tea & Cl. Hybrid
Tea, Large-flowered Climber, Miniature, Climbing Miniature, Moss & Cl. Moss, Old
Garden Rose, Patio, Pernetiana, polyantha, and shrubs [Help Me Find.com].
Among his other well known roses are Nevada (1927), the still acclaimed Moyesii
hybrid shrub; Mme. Gregoire Staechelin, LCL; and Golden Moss.
Moss roses had fallen out of style in the previous century. Dot was one of the
few who worked with them in the first half of the 20th century. His Golden Moss
(1932) grew upright, similar to Frau Karl Druschki, and bore well mossed buds
which opened into soft peach-yellow flowers. (In 1933, a Frenchman, Buatios,
introduced "Gabriel Noyelle." It had well mossed buds which open into soft
salmon-pink flowers. The tall, almost climbing, plant had recurrent bloom off
and on all summer).
"From the breeders viewpoint, Golden Moss and Gabriel Noyelle are possibly the
most significant." However, despite its lack of remontancy, Dot's "Golden Moss"
quickly became the wellspring of Ralph Moore's work with Moss roses: "My own
work with moss roses began with a successful cross of Mark Sullivan (H.T.) x
Golden Moss" [Ralph Moore]. Moore calls it O.M. (for Orange Moss). O.M. is a
parent and grandparent of Moore's Goldmoss and Rougemoss roses. These offspring
"have been quite overlooked by many rose growers and breeders, but in their gene
pools are the makings of new moss roses of the future" [Moore].
Dot influenced others too. Griffith Buck became interested in roses after he
began writing to a woman for a Spanish assignment in high school. They were
"required to correspond with a Spanish student. He found a rose book with the
name Pedro Dot in it and asked this man if he knew of a young person to
correspond with." It turned out Dot was a famous rose breeder in Spain, and the
woman, Maria Antonia, was his niece. "Whenever this girl would write, the uncle
would tell her to write about roses." Griffith Buck and Antonia exchanged
letters for about seven years. "One thing her uncle told her to write, was that
if you hybridize a rose, you get something no one else has ever seen." (It's
amazing what sometimes grows from even our smallest actions!). [www.daily.iastate.edu/volumes/spring2000/April-27-2000/]
In 1985, Buck stated "I wanted to name a rose after Pedro Dot, a famous Spanish
rose breeder who supported me in my breeding. I wrote to Pedro's son, telling
him that I would like to name this rose for his father. I told him I knew his
father was very proud of being a Spaniard who was also proud of being a
Catalonian. His son replied, 'If you are going to name it for my father, why
don't you name it in Catalonian, and call it "El Catala"' which I did." [www.elkorose.com].
Although Pedro Dot was a very important seminal breeder in the first half of the
20th century, he doesn't receive the widespread public recognition enjoyed by
his contemporaries. Many things likely contributed to this:
1. Although he was the most famous Spanish rose breeder, Spain was on the
fringes of the rose world, and of the industrial world. There were also barriers
of language, culture, commerce, and financial resources. The fame he did attain
actually arose from the awards his roses won on those occasions when he ventured
out of Spain;
2. "Pedro Dot produced a large number of brightly colored roses that were all
superb in hot climates. They mostly have 'Pernetiana' blood and are not hardy in
areas that suffer from frost. This is probably the reason why they have not
become as popular as they deserve. However, they are still superb roses for
regions with" climates similar to California, South Africa, and Australia. [Botanica's
Roses, p. 351:]. Unfortunately for Dot, roses that do poorly in England, France,
Germany, and most of America did not tend to garner widespread fame & fortune
for their breeder.
My own personal favorite is our 5 year old Mme. Gregoire Staechelin (a.k.a.
Spanish Beauty), LCL, a beautiful, very fragrant, hardy (in R.I.), heavily
blooming, non-repeating, bi-color of rose-pink and shell pink, large, sprawling
climber. It also sets many large, pear-shaped, orange hips. I hope to hybridize
with it someday. Our Girona and Condessa de Sastago are entering their second
winter here. If we had the room, we'd also get Nevada.
Pedro Dot was born in Spain on March 28, 1885. On November 12, 1976, Pedro Dot
died peacefully in his sleep of a heart attack. During the intervening 91 years,
Dot bred 178 new roses, and quietly influenced the course of rose history.
Muchas gracias, senor. Vaya con Dios.