As we read and learn about the EarthKind® program and its roses, sooner or later one of the roses most gardeners consider growing is the perfectly pink double rose, 'Belinda's Dream', released by Dr. Robert Basye in 1988.
'Belinda's Dream' has quickly become a standard rose to compare others against for its disease resistance and low-maintenance care, but I find no reason to fault the flower either. This very double rose (over 100 petals) has a light, clean pink bloom that combines the high-centered modern rose form with its old garden rose resistance to disease and wide soil-type tolerance. A seedling of a cross between 'Jersey Beauty' and the incredibly fragrant Hybrid Tea 'Tiffany', 'Belinda's Dream carries her own strong and unique fragrance as well. Resistant to blackspot, mildew, and root-node nematode, the foliage on this 3 foot tall bush is perfect throughout the season, with no spraying necessary here in Kansas, or reportedly elsewhere. Large perfect flowers are borne freely over the season, perhaps balling up a bit in cool wet spring weather, but reliably repeating on this dense-foliaged shrub. This is one of the few shrub roses that is as useful as a cutting rose to present to Mrs. ProfessorRoush as it is for display in my garden. If I have a complaint, it is that I would say that 'Belinda's Dream', listed in all sources as hardy in Zones 5-9, is actually just barely hardy here in Zone 5b Kansas, because both my specimens die back to the ground nearly every winter. I'm not alone in that assessment either, since I just heard that viewpoint about hardiness repeated from a source that has observed the rose growing in Kansas City. For that reason, I'd only recommend growing her own-root, on her own feet.
'Belinda's Dream', still blooming in October
Now, I'll admit to knowing next to nothing about rose genetics, but I'm intrigued that a cross of 'Jersey Dream', a light yellow, single-flowered Hybrid Wichurana rambler, and 'Tiffany', an exhibition style, light pink Hybrid Tea with only 25 petals, resulted in this extremely double and rapidly repeating rose of short shrub stature. The strong fragrance makes a little sense with the parentage of the James Alexander Gamble Fragrance award-winning 'Tiffany', as does the clear pink bloom color from the same parent and the disease resistance from its rambler father, but where did all the petals and the bushy stature come from?
'Basye's Purple Rose'
There are, for your interest, only four other officially released Basye-bred cultivars ('Basye's Legacy', 'Basye's Purple Rose', 'Basye's Myrrh Scented Rose', and 'Basye's Blueberry Rose') from which I would conclude that Dr. Basye was very choosy about the roses he released. I also grow 'Basye's Purple', another disease-free rose in Kansas and a uniquely-colored one. We may not have seen the end of Dr. Basye's rose bloodlines, though, because his rose collection was donated to Texas A&M after his death in 2000 and is being merged with the breeding stock of famed hybridizer Ralph Moore, also donated after the latter's death in 2008, as part of the AgriLife program of Texas A&M.
Many roses have an interesting history, but 'Belinda's Dream' has a story better than most and I believe there is a lesson in her creation. 'Belinda's Dream' was the result of a lifelong hobby of the late Dr.Basye, a mathematician at Texas A&M University. Dr. Basye was searching to combine disease resistance, drought tolerance, and thornlessness with modern bloom form, and folklore has it that he almost didn't release 'Belinda's Dream', which he named for a friend's daughter, because it wasn't thornless enough. I believe that the lesson in this rose, bred in Caldwell Texas and the first to be awarded EarthKind®and Texas Superstar status (both in 2002), is that it provides a convincing example of how important it is for hybridizers to breed and select roses in the exact geographic region where the rose is targeted to be grown and marketed. A similar example of this principle is that the late Dr. Griffith Buck's rose breeding program in Iowa provided us with many roses of the same disease-free characteristics and better hardiness for the MidWest region. Perhaps a rose-breeding motto, "Know the Region, Know the Roses" should become the mantra for hybridizers of the next century.