This section is from the book "How To Make A Flower Garden", by Wilhelm Miller. Also available from Amazon: The Well-Tended Perennial Garden: Planting and Pruning Techniques.
Notwithstanding the nominal position that the rose has held, from time immemorial, as the "queen of flowers,' it is not to be gainsaid that the rose as a garden plant has been relegated of late years to a secondary place. It has been overshadowed by the very laudable desire to plant more largely of native trees and shrubs, with which have been associated the flowering shrubs of Japan. Unfortunately, rose plants are not decorative bushes of themselves - at least, the most commonly accepted groups are not, and in order to devote space to roses a decided rose enthusiasm is first of all needed. A rose plant must be looked upon only as a means to an end - glorious roses - and the more this object is kept in view the less ornamental does the rose plant become. This is due to the hard pruning that is necessary if you would have the best blooms on the hybrid perpetuals, which are the only generally reliable kinds for the average garden.
But there is a change coming over the scene. Since the very wide distribution of the popular Crimson Rambler, attention has been directed to the possibilities of other groups of roses for various purposes. The availability of climbing roses for garden use has led many into planting this and Wichuraiana, and hybrids from them, in continually increasing numbers. A few progressive horticulturists have seen these things, and there is a very marked tendency now in various parts of the country to raise up a new race of roses which will fit our climatic conditions better than the French races upon which dependence has been placed, and to which the mind naturally turns whenever the rose is named. The strong sun of summer and the severe trials of winter make the conditions for roses in America very different from those that prevail in England and in France, and the roses which have been bred to meet the requirements of those countries do not always find things most comfortable for them here. Yet for a long time to come reliance must be placed upon such varieties of European origin as are found best fitted to survive.
A spray of single rose.
The present trouble with roses in American gardens is that the bloom falls as soon as it is developed, and while we can grow fine wood and get a burst of bloom that is marvellous, yet it is all over in a day or two, and the season of the rose is dead in its birth. Therefore is the present tendency to try other roses for other purposes than the mere blooms.
There are hybridists at work who are endeavouring to blend the roses of France and England with some of our native species in the belief that from the introduction of native blood they will obtain roses which will stand the climate better. May their efforts be crowned with success! The creation of a sturdy American race will more surely give an impetus to rose-culture than will the mere multiplication of forcing varieties.
Psyche, a climbing rose.
That the rose can be grown with great success is demonstrated each year, for the plant simply insists on flowering profusely in the face of all sorts of neglect. What we need is the proper adaptation of varieties or races. I do not for a moment think that the popular H P. roses of to-day will be driven out of the garden of the rose-lover, nor that where the H. T. varieties can be induced to live on (with the most solicitous care), that any new races will oust them from our best gardens. No, indeed; for they are the roses of sentiment and of common belief. But in remote parts of the country where a rose is merely a rose, the demand for varieties that will last in flower is great, and when such can be introduced there will be roses everywhere. The rose will never be out of fashion or favour, and, given the right varieties, the demand for it will increase.
Roses in California.
A marked feature of hardy rose-growing already referred to is in the production of what may be called the Rambler hybrids - roses that make tremendous growth each year and are suitable for pillar work. Many people want rose-bowers and arbours, to which purpose these hybrids are, of course, well suited. They are hardy, free-flowering, and of rampant growth, and where Wichuraiana has been used in their making, have foliage that is almost evergreen and insect-proof. I look to this class as the basis of a fresh stimulus for rose-growing in our gardens.