Given your location, consideration of soil comes next, for this can be controlled in a way in which the sun may not be, though if the ground chosen is in the bottom of a hollow or in a place where surface water is likely to settle in winter, you had better shift the location without more ado. It was a remark pertinent to all such places that Dean Hole made to the titled lady who showed him an elaborately planned rose garden, in a hollow, and waited for his praise. She heard only the remark that it was an admirable spot for ferns!
If your soil is clayey, and holds water for this reason, it can be drained by porous tiles, sunk at intervals in the same way as meadow or hay land would be drained, that is if the size of your garden and the lay of the land warrants it. If, however, the roses are to be in separate beds or long borders, the earth can be dug out to the depth of two and a half or three feet, the good fertile portion being put on one side and the clay or yellow loam, if any there be, removed. Then fill the hole with cobblestones, rubbish of old plaster, etc., for a foot in depth (never tin cans); mix the good earth thoroughly with one-third its bulk of well-rotted cow dung, a generous sprinkling of unslaked lime and sulphur, and replace, leaving it to settle for a few days and watering it thoroughly, if it does not rain, before planting.
One of the advantages of planting roses by themselves is that the stirring of the soil and giving of special fertilizers when needful may be unhampered.
In the ordinary planting of roses by the novice, the most necessary rules are usually the first violated. The roses are generally purchased in pots, with a certain amount of foliage and a few buds produced by forcing. A hole is excavated, we will suppose, in a hardened border of hardy plants that, owing to the tangle of roots, can be at best but superficially dug and must rely upon top dressing for its nutriment. Owing to the difficulty of digging the hole, it is likely to be a tight fit for the pot-bound ball of calloused roots that is to fill it. Hence, instead of the woody roots and delicate fibres being carefully spread out and covered, so that each one is surrounded by fresh earth, they are jammed just as they are (or often with an additional squeeze) into a rigid socket, and small wonder if the conjunction of the two results in blighting and a lingering death rather than the renewal of vitality and increase.
Evan, who has had a wide experience in watching the development of his plans, both by professional gardeners and amateurs, says that he is convinced more and more each day that, where transplanting of any sort fails, it is due to carelessness in the securing of the root anchors, rather than any fault of the dealer who supplies the plants, this of course applying particularly to all growths having woody roots, where breakage and wastage cannot be rapidly restored. When a rose is once established, its persistent roots may find means of boring through soil that in its first nonresistant state is impossible. While stiff, impervious clay is undesirable, a soil too loose with sand, that allows the bush to shift with the wind, instead of holding it firmly, is quite as undesirable.
In planting all hardy or half-hardy roses, - whether they are of the type that flower once in early summer, the hybrid perpetuals that bloom freely in June and again at intervals during late summer and autumn, or the hybrid teas that, if wisely selected and protected, combine the wintering ability of their hardy parents with the monthly blooming cross of the teas, - it is best to plant dormant field-grown plants in October, or else as early in April as the ground is sufficiently dry and frost free.
These field-grown roses have better roots, and though, when planted in the spring, for the first few months the growth is apparently slower than that of the pot-grown bushes, it is much more normal and satisfactory, at least in the Middle and New England states of which I have knowledge.
All roses, even the sturdy, old-fashioned damasks, Madame Plantier, and the like, should have some covering in winter, such as stable litter of coarse manure with the straw left in. Hybrid perpetuals I hill up well with earth after the manner of celery banked for bleaching, the trenches between making good water courses for snow water, while in spring cow manure and nitrate of soda is scattered in these ruts before the soil is restored to its level by forking.
The hybrid teas, of which La France is the best exponent, should be hilled up and then filled in between with evergreen branches, upland sedge grass, straw or corn stalks, and if you have the wherewithal, they may be capped with straw.
I do not care for leaves as a covering, unless something coarse underlies them, for in wet seasons they form a cold and discouraging poultice to everything but the bob-tailed meadow mice, who love to bed and burrow under them. Such tea roses as it is possible to winter in the north should be treated in the same way, but there is something else to be suggested about their culture in another place.
The climbing roses of arbours, if in very exposed situations, in addition to the mulch of straw and manure, may have com stalks stacked against the slats, which makes a windbreak well worth the trouble. But the more tender species of climbing roses should be grown upon pillars, English fashion. These can be snugly strawed up after the fashion of wine bottles, and then a conical cap of the waterproof tar paper used by builders drawn over the whole, the manure being banked up to hold the base firmly in place. With this device it is possible to grow the lovely Gloire de Dijon, in the open, that festoons the eaves of English cottages, but is our despair. Not long ago we invented an inexpensive "pillar" trellis for roses and vines which, standing seven feet high and built about a cedar clothes-pole, the end well coated with tar before setting, is both symmetrical and durable, not burning tender shoots, as do the metal affairs, and costing, if the material is bought and a carpenter hired by the day, the moderate price of two dollars and a half each, including paint, which should be dark green.