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Pedro Dot (1885–1976) was a Spanish rose breeder.



Pedro Dot was born on 28 March 1885 outside Barcelona on the rose-growing Monistrol estate (now better known for sparkling wine) where his father was estate manager. His early experiments were encouraged by his patrons, the Marquise of Monistrol and the Countess of Sástago, after whom early roses were named. His father Simon, a notable gardener and plant breeder, started a small nursery nearby at San Feliu de Llobregat, where the family firm of Rosas Dot is still to be found. Pedro took charge of the roses and later the whole firm. Eventually he moved to Vilafranca del Penedés on the other side of Barcelona, but retained San Feliu de Llobregat. At sixteen he was sent to work at an outside business and in 1910 to Belgium and Paris, where he came across the new methods of hybridisation, not to mention the French attitude to garden art. To escape the small stage of Spanish horticulture, he subsequently played to a world audience.[1]

As early as 1924, Pedro entered new roses in scores of international competitions, winning a certificate of merit at the Bagatelle trials in Paris with the variety ‘Margarita Riera.’ He used such choice varieties as ‘Frau Karl Druschki,’ ‘Souvenir de Claudius Pernet,’ and ‘Mme Edouard Herriot’ to produce a large number of brightly coloured hybrid tea roses that were all superb in hot climates. They mostly have Pernetiana blood – Pernet was the first to breed into hybrid tea roses the intense yellow colour and strong smell of Rosa foetida – and are not frost hardy. ‘Marí Dot’ won a prize in Strasbourg and ‘Condesa de Sástago’ the first Rome Prize; later it became very popular in the United States. It was the first successful bicolor rose, with petals scarlet on the front, golden yellow on the back. (Conard-Pyle imported many of these roses into the United States under their original names, but only a few seem to have been patented.) From 1925 Dot also began to use the pollen of wild roses in his breeding.[2]

Undoubtedly, Dot’s most successful rose (a hybrid spinosissima) was ‘Nevada,’ released in 1927. The great climber ‘Mme Grégoire Staechlin’ came out in the same year.[3] Given that a breeder often has scores of seedlings to choose from, Dot consistently chose roses with a wilder and more extreme character than their parents'. In that way he has something of the expressionism of his fellow Catalan, Gaudí. Dot also renewed the tradition of moss roses with 'Golden Moss' (1932), the first yellow moss ever bred.[4]

"Pedro Dot successfully built on the painstaking work of Joseph Pernet-Ducher to produce yellow roses, and introduced a rainbow of gloriously flame-colored roses throughout the 1930s. Some of these roses range dramatically in intensity from pastel to hot orange blends, for example ‘Duquesa de Peñaranda’ and ‘Federico Casas’. ‘Catalonia’, ‘Condesa de Sástago’, ‘Angels Mateu’, ‘Girona’, and ‘Maria Peral’ show more intense coloration. With ‘Baby Gold Star’, ‘Golden Sástago’, and ‘Joaquin Mir’, Dot achieved true, deep yellows." [5]

He was a member of the Amigos de las Rosas, founded in Barcelona in 1931 with Rubio, Cambo, Ros Sabaté, and Cyprien Camprubí, hybridiser of the well-known 'Violonista Costa.'

In the twenty years after the Spanish Civil War, Dot hybridised miniature roses, revolutionising the field. His genetic theory was to cross hybrid teas and miniatures, thus better improving the form than hybridisers who used polyanthas. Perhaps their focus on the tiny shows inward migration from the regime of Franco.

Pedro Dot was the most famous Spanish rose breeder, but in the 1960s his son Simon became a breeder himself, particularly of mauve and lavender roses.[6] Pedro’s other son Marino and his two grandsons all released roses in the 1960s and 1970s. Because of Pedro’s fame, some of their roses have been wrongly attributed to him.

Pedro Dot died at 91 on 12 November 1976.

Rose names and dedications

Until the Second World War it would have been true to say that the name of every Dot rose was also its dedication. In the 1920s these are mostly to family members ('Marí Dot') and aristocratic patrons ('Cayetana Stuart'). In the Republican period they are to Catalan patriots ('Angel Guimera') and Republican towns not yet taken by the Nationalists ('Lleida,' 'Girona'); later to international supporters ('Senateur Potié') and Catalan patriots ('Ramon Bach') killed in the war. After the Second World War, alas, they decline generally speaking into tributes to international celebrities and tourist locales.

The survival of Dot's work

'Nevada' and 'Mme Grégoire Staechlin' will certainly survive. Dot's miniatures are safe with their aficionados. The problem lies with Dot's wonderful hybrid teas. His firm continues in business and it offers about 60 roses for sale, but only ten by Pedro himself. Vintage Gardens nursery in California has a score for sale in a State where they do well. A handful survive in European public gardens, notably the Roseraie de L'Haÿ near Paris and the Roseraie François Mitterrand in the south of France. Luckily there are 66 in the encyclopaedic collection of Fineschi in Italy and 32 extra at Sangerhausen in Germany. But many of Dot's 140 or so hybrid teas — among the greatest oeuvres in roses — hang by a thread from private collectors in Spain. The beautiful 'Angelita Ruaix' for instance is preserved by her elderly daughter on a balcony in Barcelona.

See also


  1. ^ Bunny Skran, "Pedro Dot and the Spanish Tradition," American Rose, 1999, pp. 30–33.
  2. ^ Roger Phillips & Martyn Rix, The Quest for the Rose, BBC Books, 1993, p. 206. ISBN 0-563-36442-4.
  3. ^ Charles Quest-Ritson, Climbing Roses of the World, Timber Press, 2003, p. 239. ISBN 0-88192-563-2.
  4. ^ Charles & Brigid Quest-Ritson, Encyclopaedia of Roses, Dorling Kindersley, 2003, p. 122. ISBN 978-1-4053-3511-9.
  5. ^ Jean Lewis, "Depression-Era Roses," Rosa Mundi, Autumn 2009–Winter 2010, p. 55. Available online as Depression-era Roses at Heritage Rose Foundation
  6. ^ Peter Harkness, "Notable Rose Breeders," entry for Dot, Pedro and Simon (Spain), p. 678 in Peter Beales and others, Botanica's Roses: the Encyclopaedia of Roses, 1998, Random House. ISBN 0-09-183592-5.

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