With regard to soils suitable for roses, a mistake is also frequently made in supposing that a clay soil is the only suitable medium for rose planting. "Roses require clay" is a dictum which is now repeated, parrot-like, until the would-be rose-grower is left with the impression that the delicate roots of her roses can not only penetrate that harsh and sticky medium, but would actually die off if placed in anything else.
Roses, like nearly all other plants, like loamy soil to grow in, certainly a stiffish loam in preference to a sandy one, but, still, let it be loam - the top soil of old pasture land, which is found in varying qualities and amounts in a well-made garden.
If an old garden is full of exhausted soil, some fresh loam should be carted in. This will cost from 3s. to 10s. per load, according to the quality, the district, and the difficulty of carting.
But what roses also like is a good clay, well broken up, so as not to be too heavy and solid, to form a subsoil. The subsoil, as its name implies, runs beneath the tilth, or cultivated soil, in which the roses are planted; the latter should be at least one foot in depth, but, of course, eighteen inches or two feet will be far more satisfactory. The chief reason why a heavy subsoil is good for roses lies in the fact that roses are "gross feeders" - that is, they like a rich diet, with plenty of coolness and moisture in addition, the last because they are liable otherwise to go short of food in dry weather, when the necessary food-stores are naturally "held up." A close retentive clay holds moisture almost indefinitely, while sandy, porous soils let it filter away almost as quickly as it soaks in. A clay subsoil, therefore, allows more food to find its way to the roots of a rose tree, irrespective of the weather which prevails at the moment.
If roses are being purchased not in autumn but in winter, it is well in making out the list to allow the nurseryman some alternative choice as to the kinds he may send, in case stocks are exhausted of a given kind, and if late in the season an effort should be made to see and pick out the roses for oneself in the nursery.
If roses arrive in frosty weather, it is best to keep them in a warm place exactly as they are (wrapped in the packing material) until the frost has broken. If wet weather prevails, choose the driest spot in the garden, dig a small shallow trench, and lay the trees in firmly by the heels until better conditions obtain. If the roses have suffered by delayed transit, or for any other reason, then dig deep trenches and cover them bodily, branches and all, until they are lifted at planting time. It is in attention to details such as these that much of the success or failure of the amateur rose grower will depend. Time spent in doing most carefully all that should be done is never wasted; Nature rewards richly those who obey her behests.
A useful type of budding knife
As varying forms of rose-gardens and rose-beds will be dealt with in a forthcoming article, it is only necessary here to speak of the preparation of the ground, which must be done with equal thoroughness in every case. Good depth, adequate drainage, and strong, well-manured soil are the three chief points to be aimed at. All will be secured by thorough trenching, *7ith the addition of proper materials to make the soil what it should be in respect to texture and nutriment. Well-decayed stable or farmyard manure - the latter being used in the case of lighter soils - should be put at the bottom of the trenches, and where clay is turned up, this should be well broken, leaving it, of course, at the bottom, and mixing a liberal amount of the manure with it.
Gravelly soils, of course, have an excellent natural drainage ready to hand. If the staple of soil used were, in the first place, sour or water-logged, some rubble should be placed at the bottom of the trenches, and a little slaked lime added. A small quantity of mortar rubbish is an assistance in sweetening exhausted or ill-drained soils. Basic slag is an excellent manure for roses, and should be worked in nearer the surface as trenching continues.
Planting requires to be done with dexterity and care, but respect for a few simple rules should render it a simple matter to do well. If the ground has been trenched some time previously and allowed to lie rough, fork it up and break the lumps into fine pieces.
If trenched quite recently, it should be allowed a short time to settle. Look over the roses, and with a sharp knife trim clean away any jagged or broken roots, and also any which appear to have penetrated the ground to some distance, and become thick and woody. Such roots are of no particular benefit to the tree, while the fine, fibrous roots must be preserved carefully and encouraged to increase.
The holes prepared for the rose trees should be six inches deep, and sufficiently wide to allow of the roots being spread out without a suspicion of cramping. This is very important. The trees should be kept covered with matting until the moment of planting. Place the first tree in the middle of the hole, and work in a little fine, good soil with a fork, or with the fingers, covering the roots to a depth of three inches. The tree should first be shaken gently to settle the roots, and the soil be then gently trodden with the toes and ball of the foot, making it quite firm, and finishing off neatly. If staking is required, the stake should, of course, be put in (fifteen inches deep) before the hole is filled, or damage to the roots may ensue.
Tarred twine should be used in preference to raffia, which will rot after a time. Secure the material to the stake in the first place, and then encircle the stem without risking injury to the tree by tight tying. As regards stakes, the ordinary green square rose-stake is an ugly affair, and turns blue after exposure to weather. We may hope to see it in time replaced by some more natural looking form of support.
Standard trees will always require staking, but it is a good practice to reduce the wind surface of others by shortening lengthy branches, whether it is the usual time to prune or not.
The subject of pruning roses, of their protection against pests, feeding, and general care and culture must be considered in another article, when arrangements for rose-beds and rose-gardens will be sketched out, suitable and attractive to the owners of gardens of varying shape and size. To be continued.