This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
In noticing Mr. Willison's Rose Nursery in the last Number of the Florist, I inadvertently stated that the Roses were grown on alluvial soil; this is an error (although perhaps not of much consequence,) which I wish to correct. The soil in this garden varies much, both in its nature and quality; and although there is a small portion of the alluvial, yet the principal part of the Roses is cultivated on strong loam. Since my last notice, I regret to add, that the respected lessee, Mr. Alexander Willison, has been "gathered to his fathers:"he died on the 7th October, at the advanced age of 75 years, after having had the superintendence of this nursery for nearly forty years. These gardens, however, will very probably be carried on by his son, Mr. W. Willison, who has hitherto had the entire management of the Rose department.
Amongst floral curiosities, I may first mention a seedling Dahlia of very dwarf habit, which has attracted much attention. Mr. Willison now possesses about a dozen plants of this truly singular production, the tallest of which does not exceed ten inches in height, and several of them are not more than six inches, and yet flowering in this dwarf state. What may we not expect from the Dahlia! Some say we may grow and exhibit Dahlias in pots as we do Auriculas; others state that we shall now be furnished with plants of the Dahlia for our smallest compartments, even for our Wardian cases. How much of this will be realised, time alone will reveal; at any rate, the variety to which I allude is as complete a Liliputian as ever was created by Chinese art.
From a conversation which took place a few days ago between Mr. Rivers and Mr. Willison, some interesting facts were elicited in reference to raising seedling Roses. Whilst remarking on the Weeping Rose, the Crested Moss, the Miniature Moss, and other Roses raised at this nursery, Mr. Rivers expressed his surprise, that seed could be obtained in such an (apparently) unpropitious locality; to which Mr. Willison replied, that he never was at a loss for seed, but, like his neighbours, he had often failed in causing it to vegetate. Amongst those from which he had anticipated the most (but without success), were Smith's yellow Noisette (impregnated), Curled Crested Moss (Willison's), etc. From other varieties, such as Madame Laf-fay, Proserpine, W. Jesse, Madame Desprez, and others, he had succeeded in raising some scores of seedlings, exhibiting in many instances the greatest dissimilarity from the parent, especially those from Rose Ruga, many of its offspring certainly being like the parent; but one half at least were stated to be either true Tea or China Roses; and one in particular, King of the Ayrshires (Willison), with very durable maroon flowers, is most like a climbing Gallica. Also those obtained from the old China exhibited, if possible, a greater diversity of character; some were like Sweet Briers, others were smooth and flexible in their shoots, resembling the Boursault, blooming only as Summer Roses, while the rest were Chinas, Climbing Noisettes, etc.; and from this heterogeneous breed was obtained a rich strawberry-scented Pillar-Rose, the Governor (Willison). It is still more singular that from Summer Hoses have been obtained the most decided Perpetual Roses, not of the character that would class with Madame Laffay, Baron Prevost, Dr. Marx, Duchess of Sutherland, etc, but such as ought to be classed with Clementine Duval, as they differ only from China and Tea in having stems thickly clad with spines and a somewhat rougher leaf.
Of such are Willi-son's Omniflora, sometimes striped like a crimson and scarlet Ranunculus; Lady Lucy Smith, a Rose highly commended in the Midland Florist (not then named), and Fulgens, h. p., which in form and brilliancy of colour is almost identical with the old favourite Summer Rose of that name, but which differs from it in this very desirable quality of being an ever-bloomer, blooming under glass from January to December. This Rose is highly odoriferous, and has been favourably noticed during the season by the Florist, Midland Florist, and other publications.
In reference to Hybrid Perpetuals, I would observe en passant, that in an excellent article on Roses in the Florist, p. 195, by a transatlantic writer, it is stated that Hybrid Perpetuals are by no means perpetuals in their blooming habit; "they are, in fact, June Roses, that bloom two or three times in the season, whenever new shoots spring up." To this assumption the English Rose-growers, I fancy, will hardly subscribe, if the Hybrid Perpetuals are to remain as they are now classed. Where is there a more genuine Perpetual than Geant des Batailles?
One word in conclusion on that much-vexed question, the "Rose-stock." Mr. Rivers, as all know, is very partial to the Manetti, and Mr. Willison says it does not answer in this locality so well as the Victoria stock, a sort of Hybrid Ayrshire, raised by himself some years ago. I think that both stocks are good for some sorts of Roses; but do not believe that either of them form a " panacea for all evils." A few months ago, I inspected Mr. Appleby's collection of Roses, at the Rose Mount Nursery, York, most of which are budded on the Manetti stock, and I must confess I never saw a more promising lot of plants, - they are remarkably strong and healthy. But then, on the other hand, Mr. Willison has budded several of our most delicate Roses, such as Eliza Sauvage, Vicomtesse de Cazes, etc. on his favourite stock, and they also are growing most vigorously, certainly quite equal to the others. The Manetti, Celine, Bour-sault, and other stocks may have their advocates, but there is no doubt, in my opinion, that different stocks suit different localities; and this may perhaps account, in some measure, for each having its supporters.
Air. Rivers, I understand, intends to try the Victoria stock; and when its merits are fully tested by the side of the Manetti, the readers of the Florist, it is hoped, will be favoured with the results.
Whitby, 11h Oct. M. Wooduouse.