The late Frank Benardella, a New Jersey native, hybridized some of the finest roses. Frank specialized in creating miniature and miniflora roses. Not only did Frank hybridize roses but he was also a former President of the American Rose Society (1977-1979), a passionate grower, exhibitor and promoter of roses. I always enjoyed talking with Frank at the local shows and district conventions about all aspects of roses. His wife June still attends some of the local shows and Penn-Jersey District convention and I must say you will not meet a friendlier person than June. I would like to share a few of Frank’s creations that have been growing in my garden throughout the years.
‘Ambiance’ – A large light pink/peach colored miniflora that was crossed using ‘Perfection’ and the hybrid tea ‘Timeless’. The blooms are typically well-formed with many petals, though I don’t think it will be seen on the miniflora court on a constant basis. ‘Ambiance’ is a strong growing healthy bush with dark green foliage. While I only have one bush of ‘Ambiance’ it is a nice addition to the garden.
‘Baby Boomer’ – A beautiful well-formed pink miniature rose that is a result of crossing ‘Ivory Beauty’ with his own great ‘Kristin’. ‘Baby Boomer’ is a nice floriferous growing garden rose and excellent show rose. I have noticed ‘Baby Boomer’ is often shown a bit tighter than the typical rose due to the low petal count. I really like this rose in collections such as the Ralph Moore due to the fact ‘Baby Boomer’ is a nice shade of pink which is an important transition color bridging the lighter colored roses to the darker roses. A fine all around miniature rose.
‘Dejà Blu’– An attractive mauve miniflora rose with deep pink/red outer petals. ‘Dejà Blu’ has well-formed blooms though it tends to have slightly sunken centers. I have noticed it has slightly below average refrigeration characteristics and wish the bloom held longer at exhibition form. A nice grower with glossy green foliage with almost thornless stems.
‘Double Take’ – An outstanding formed large miniflora that is a product of crossing Frank’s miniature rose ‘Baby Boomer’ and the hybrid tea ‘Timeless’. ‘Double Take’ is a very good growing disease resistant bush with attractive large but not oversized foliage. Despite having outstanding form, the downfall of ‘Double Take’ which keeps it from being a truly great show rose is the fact it does not hold its form as long as one hopes. I would best describe ‘Double Take’ as ‘Hilde’ on steroids.
‘Dr. Tommy Cairns’ – I have only been growing ‘Dr. Tommy Cairns’ for a year and must agree with those who say this rose is an improved version of Frank’s excellent miniature ‘Jilly Jewel’. Despite not having a lot of petals ‘Dr. Tommy Cairns’ has outstanding holding power and great substance. Blooms are a bit larger than the typical miniature. Nice growing bush that is quick to establish. A must have.
‘Flawless’ – A very large medium pink miniflora that borders on being too large for the classification. ‘Flawless’ has over-sized foliage and has a very long peduncle. Due to the typically oversized blooms and being a bit shy on petals ‘Flawless’ will not be seen on the miniflora court on a regular basis. A well-behaved moderately vigorous rose.
‘Hilde’ – One of my favorite blooms of Frank’s due to its stunning color and great form. Frank crossed his own two roses miniatures ‘Figurine’ and ‘Kristin’ to produce this beauty. The fault of this rose is its lack of vigor and being winter tender. I will always grow this rose nonetheless.
‘Kristin’ – One of the greatest miniature roses of all time, ‘Kristin’ was a top rated exhibition rose when first introduced, but unfortunately has been surpassed by the “super” miniatures. The greatest legacy of ‘Kristin’ is perhaps being a parent to countless top-notch exhibition and garden roses. David Clemons’ ‘Joy’, the country’s top exhibition miniature rose, is an offspring of ‘Kristin’. There is also a climbing sport of ‘Kristin’ that puts on a spectacular display in the spring before spending the rest of the year throwing climbing canes and not blooming after the spring flush. A nice garden rose that puts out loads of flowers both singly and in sprays. One fault of ‘Kristin’ is the bloom fails to open at times.
‘Leading Lady’ – Lovely beautiful white blooms blushed with pink set atop long stems that have large thorns. ‘Leading Lady’ is a vigorous and tall-growing miniflora that unfortunately is somewhat susceptible to blackspot. The blooms are typically well-formed but they can be prone to having “balled centers”. In the intense heat and sun of the summer, the pink does disappear leaving ‘Leading Lady’ nearly all white before the pink blush returns during cooler weather. The flowers tend to be on the larger side for a miniflora.
‘Liberty Bell’ – This rose grows tall with long and extremely thorny stems. It took me a year to come to really like this rose. The first year I grew it almost every flower had a “balled center”. Just before I was about to dig it out I saw some of the most spectacular flowers in the garden. After the first year, I have not had a real issue with the blooms “balling” as most are very well-formed. One fault I do see is the color gets darker in the refrigerator and losing a bit of vibrance. The blooms can be big with long peduncles as ‘Liberty Bell’ is a cross of two hybrid teas, ‘Perfume Beauty’ and ‘Timeless’. A wonderful red miniflora that is a must have for those who enjoy a fantastic garden rose and cut flower.
‘Magic Show’ – One of my favorite miniatures of Frank, ‘Magic Show’, was an AOE (Award of Excellence) winner in 2010. Vigorous, disease free, and easy to grow makes this an easy pick for those looking for a well-formed exhibition type miniature rose. ‘Magic Show’ does not have a ton of petals so it’s often shown slightly “tighter” than other roses. A wonderful all around rose.
‘Power Point’ – a beautiful well-formed fire engine red miniflora that made the 2013 Horizon Roses Honor Roll. Frank Benardella’s miniature rose ‘Ruby’ was crossed with the red hybrid tea ‘Timeless’ to create this fantastic rose. Typically, roses excel in the area where they were created, but oddly, since its introduction, ‘Power Point’ has not made the court or head table often at our local rose shows. An excellent exhibition rose and fine garden rose that is a fine addition to the garden.
‘Powerhouse’ – Mouth watering brilliant glowing orange-red blooms makes ‘Powerhouse’ my favorite bloom of any of Frank’s roses. The form is either there or it’s not; there is no in-between for this rose. ‘Powerhouse’ lags in vigor compared to some of my other minifloras. However, one look at the glowing blooms makes you forgive ‘Powerhouse’ for its slight shortcomings as a garden rose.
‘Show Stopper’ – Fantastic pink / peach / salmon colored flowers is not everyone’s favorite colored rose that Frank has produced. However, often perfectly formed blooms more than make up for its somewhat unspectacular color. The bush is robust growing with long stems and large foliage. I have noticed that sometimes ‘Show Stopper’ only wants to grow one full leaf set beneath the bloom making it unbalanced when trying to show this rose. Unfortunately, it is also slightly prone to blackspot if not sprayed. I personally think this is Frank’s best all around miniflora.
‘Soroptimist International’ – I regard Soroptimist Internation as Frank’s best rose. It has outstanding form with fantastic color. Some think it is too big to be a miniature, which may have been the case when introduced and during the initial creation of the miniflora class. However, compared to the “modern” miniflora, ‘Soroptimist International’ is rightfully classified as a miniature by today’s standards. A big sprawling robust bush is very floriferous and can produce huge sprays on the larger stems. ‘Soroptimist International’ also has been an extremely successful parent.