The hybrid perpetuals give their great yield in June, followed by a more or less scattering autumn blooming. It is foolish to expect a rose specialized and proven by the tests climatic and otherwise of Holland, England, or France, and pronounced a perpetual bloomer, to live up to its reputation in this country of sudden extremes: unveiled summer heat, that forces the bud open before it has developed quality, causing certain shades of pink and crimson to fade and flatten before the flower is really fit for gathering. Americans in general must be content with the half loaf, as far as garden roses are concerned, for in the cooler parts of the country, where the development of the flower is slower and more satisfactory, the winter lends added dangers.
Good roses - not, however, the perfect flowers of the connoisseur or even of the cottage exhibitions of England - may be had from early June until the first week of July, but the hybrid tea roses that brave the latter part of that month and August are but short lived, even when gathered in the bud. Those known as summer bedders of the Bourbon class, chiefly scentless, of which Appoline is a well-known example, are simply bits of decorative colour without the endearing attributes of roses, and garden colour may be obtained with far less labour.
In July and August you may safely let your eyes wander from the rosary to the beds of summer annuals, the gladioli, Japan lilies, and Dahlias, and depend for fragrance on your bed of sweet odours. But as the nights begin to lengthen, at the end of August, you may prepare for a tea-rose festival, if you have a little forethought and a very little money.
You have, I think, a florist in your neighbourhood who raises roses for the market. This is my method, practised for many years with comforting success. Instead of buying pot-grown tea roses in April or May, that, Unless a good price (from twenty-five cents up) is paid for them, will be so small that they can only be called bushes at the season's end, I go to our florist and buy fifty of the bushes that he has forced during the winter and being considered spent are cast out about June first, in order to fill in the new stock.
All such roses are not discarded each season, but the process is carried on in alternate benches and years, so that there are always some to be obtained. These plants, big, tired-looking, and weak in the branches, I buy for the nominal sum of ten dollars per hundred, five dollars' worth filling a long border when set out in alternating rows. On taking these home, I thin out the woodiest shoots, or those that interfere, and plant deep in the border, into which nitrate of soda has been dug in the proportion of about two ounces to a plant.
After spreading out the roots as carefully as possible, I plant firmly and water thoroughly, but do not as yet prune off the long branches. In ten days, having given meanwhile two waterings of liquid manure, I prune the bushes back sharply. By this time they will have probably dropped the greater part of their leaves, and having had a short but sufficient nap, are ready to grow, which they proceed to do freely. I do not encourage bloom in July, but as soon as we have dew-heavy August nights it begins and goes on, increasing in quality until hard frost. Many of these bushes have wintered comfortably and on being pruned to within three inches of the ground have lasted many years.
As to the varieties so treated, that is a secondary consideration, for under these circumstances you must take what the florist has to offer, which will of course be those most suitable to the winter market. I have used Perle des Jardins, Catherine Mermet, Bride and Bridesmaid, Safrano, Souvenir d'un Ami, and Bon Silene (the rose for button-hole buds) with equal success, though a very intelligent grower affirms that both Bride and Bridesmaid are unsatisfactory as outdoor roses.
I do not say that the individual flowers from these bushes bear relation to the perfect specimens of greenhouse growth in anything but fragrance, but in this way I have roses all the autumn, "by the fistful," as Timothy Saunders's Scotch appreciation of values puts it, though his spouse, Martha Corkle, whose home memories are usually expanded by the perspective of time and absence, in this case speaks truly when she says on receiving a handful, "Yes, Mrs. Evan, they're nice and sweetish and I thank you kindly, but, ma'am, they couldn't stand in it with those that grows as free as corn poppies round the four-shillin'-a-week cottages out Gloucester way, and no disrespec' intended."
The working season of the rose gardeii begins the first of April with the cutting out of dead wood and the shortening and shaping of last year's growth. With hardy roses the flowers come from fresh twigs on old growth. I never prune in the autumn, because winter always kills a bit of the top and cutting opens the tubular stem to the weather and induces decay. Pruning is a science in itself, to be learned by experience. This is the formula that I once wrote on a slate and kept in my attic desk with my first Boke 0) the Garden.
April 1. Uncover bushes, prune, and have the winter mulch thoroughly dug in. Place stakes in the centre of bushes that you know from experience will need them. Re-tie climbers that have broken away from supports, but not too tightly; let some sprays swing and arch in their own way.
May. As soon as the foliage begins to appear, spray with whale-oil soap lotion mixed hot and let cool: strength - a bit the size of a walnut to a gallon of water. Do this every two weeks until the rosebuds show decided colour, then stop. This is to keep the rose Aphis at bay, the little soft green fly that is as succulent as the sap upon which it feeds.
If the spring is damp and mildew appears, dust with sulphur flower in a small bellows.
June. The Rose Hopper or Thrip, an active little pale yellow, transparent-winged insect that clings to the under side of the leaf, will now come if the weather is dry; dislodged easily by shaking, it immediately returns. Remedy, spraying leaves from underneath with water and applying powdered helebore with a bellows.