Jacqueminot, Brunner and other hybrid perpetuals that are planted on a bench are put in four or five inches of soil in March or April. They should be good, strong plants when first benched. If budded plants, they should be cut down to a few eyes. If plants propagated that spring, they will need one stopping. They must be encouraged to make a strong growth that summer, and in September be gradually dried off to ripen their growth. This is the most particular period of their time, and they must not be dried off too quickly. Let in all the cold air you can, and if some frost is inside, so much the better. It is much better to ripen the wood by air and cold than by drying at the root.
The time of starting will depend on the time you want the flowers, and the earlier you want them the longer time you must give. Cut them close if you expect fine flowers. Mulch the bed and begin firing slowly, .with plenty of syringing. If you get over the first few weeks without losing any plants, you are all right. The process from now on is plenty of water and syringing, with a gradual rise of temperature till flowering time.
These forcing hybrids are sometimes planted out in solid beds and forced year after year. It is precisely the same process. A growth in summer, a ripening in fall and pruning back and starting with heat again at whatever time you want your crop.
Since the advent of the American Beauty, which deserves the name of hybrid perpetual, and the immense quantity of them grown, much fewer flowers of the beautiful Brunner and Jacqueminot are forced.
I intended to remark at the opening of these notes on the so-called hybrid perpetual roses that the term is highly misleading. They are not perpetual at all. Perhaps with a cool, wet summer you may get a few scattering flowers, and we usually do get an odd one here and there in September or October, but beautiful as is this most important class of roses in color, form and fragrance, it is all wrong to call them perpetual. So you see that a man who devotes nearly a year, and in case of solid beds, the whole year, to one crop of flowers, must not only be sure of success, but must realize a high price from his blooms or he is a loser.
The American Beauty is a true hybrid perpetual, for with proper management it blooms from August till the following May; not profusely, or they would not command the high winter price they do; still they keep sending up flowering shoots. In another place I intend to say something about this wonderful variety as grown for cut flowers, but here I wish to say that although I have never seen it satisfactory when planted out of doors, it has been to me the most profitable of pot roses.
Some ten or twelve years ago a gleam of inspiration fell on us or around us. The word inspiration is often abused or misplaced. .We don't by any means believe many things which we are supposed to accept as inspired. For instance, we scarcely believe the narrative of Jonah and the whale was inspired, although the old Scotch woman said she would believe Jonah swallowed the whale if she found it in the inspired Word. Yet we believe that even in weak and ordinary mortals there are times when a bright and abnormal light or thought comes to them. In less pretentious language you hear people say, " A bright idea struck me," and depend on it when you do get such a visit you should carry it into effect at once and not let it dissipate itself. That kind of inspiration I do believe in. It occurs with the orator in some bright peroration, and many a commonplace poem is saved by one bright stanza which is a gem. They slipped from the tongue of a Henry Clay or the pen of a Robert Burns all unconsciously and without effort. That is truly inspiration.
My little inspiration was of the earth, earthy. It struck me that the American Beauty rose would make a good pot rose. I went immediately at it, and it was a phenomenal success. Now as. it was done once it can be done again. I will admit that several attempts since have never equalled the first, but a cause for this result could always be discovered. If I describe just what was done the successful year it would be safer than telling you how to do it, and some of the conditions might be improved on. That year when inspiration visited these parts I had successfully rooted in midwinter about a thousand American Beauties. In March they were in 4-inch pots and doing fine. I also had a middle bench in a house running north and south, about 7x100, which the previous summer had grown a crop of chrysanthemums. The soil was not removed and during winter and up to Easter it was occupied by lilies in 6-inch pots. Beneath each pot was a small square of tar paper that kept the common worms from entering the pots, and with a little care in watering, the soil never became sticky or pasty, so that it was in good physical condition when the sale of the lilies left it vacant.
One important fact was that Easter Sunday was March 25 (very early). One warm, sunny day dried out the bench and it was in excellent condition to fork over, which was done. Then a heavy coat of bone dust covered the surface of the soil. I can't say what the quantity in proportion to soil was, but it was at least a 5-inch pot to a bushel of soil. This was lightly forked in and then on April 1, the young Beauties were planted. They seemed to start and grew at once, and as the leading shoot terminated with a flower bud that was picked off, the lateral growth and growths from the base of the plant sent up flowering shoots that produced flowers worth cutting. The first flowers were cut and sold on June 15, and one fine Sunday morning about the middle of July was chosen for a photograph. At 5 a. m. the camera had done its work and I began to cut. They numbered 145 for that morning, and retailed in the shop at $2.50 and $3 per dozen. They had stems twelve to eighteen inches long and were perfect flowers. The fact is, we had a corner on them and did not know it. They had escaped thrips and all other troubles. Now this crop of flowers - and for months they produced a few dozen daily - was a side issue. It was the plant we wanted, yet I am certain the cut of flowers was as profitable as any crop we have ever had, I think about thirty-seven times as profitable as chrysanthemums, which you grow all summer and wait for one grand crop in November.
Rose Crimson Rambler.
About November 1 we discontinued watering the bench, but kept up daily syringing, so the roots were not extremely dry, but just sufficiently dry to induce a firmness of the stems and stronger growths. November 15 we lifted the roses and lost very few of the roots. They were potted firmly into 6-inch pots, well watered and plunged in a very substantial coldframe. The roses were left with growth about eighteen inches long, only the very long straggling growths were shortened back at the time of lifting. They remained in the frame till the end of January. This treatment while in the frame was of critical importance, although it might seem of little moment. At least on two subsequent occasions failure was easily traced to the roses being allowed to become almost dust dry and then subjected to nearly a zero frost. This is a fatal mistake and often occurs not only with roses, but with other hardy shrubs. When the roots are dry there is little sap in the wood; there is nothing to resist the freezing and the wood perishes. This occurs with our hardy trees and shrubs planted in orchards or pleasure grounds. A beech or elm will stand all winter with a foot of Mater covering its roots, but let that occur in June when the tree is in full leaf and a day or two will kill it.
Well, these roses were brought in about January 20, plump and fresh, and of course at that time needed the final pruning or cutting back, and here again I would say that the strong growths were left from six to eight inches long. For the first three weeks they were given 45 degrees at night with plenty of syringing. When an American Beauty that is cut back first breaks, it starts with a little tuft of leaves, very unpromising, and we thought there would be nothing but blind growth. As the roots became active these feeble little breaks lenghtened out and made strong growths, each crowned with a bud. We can skip over the next two months by merely saying that by Easter they were in a temperature of 58 degrees, and almost every plant would average twelve good buds and flowers, and many exceeded that. I remember that a good many of the plants were in their best shape two weeks before Easter, but there was no occasion to wait for that harvest. These plants sold at sight and brought $2 to $3 apiece. Today with our modern fixing they would bring fifty per cent more. The flowers were not puny specimens, but handsome, full many-petaled blossoms. This proved to us that with correct management there is no so-called hybrid perpetual rose capable of making such an attractive plant, and our subsequent failures have been either too severe cold when dry at the roots, not getting them planted early enough in the spring to get a good strong growth started before very hot weather set in, or they were cut too high or too low when brought in to start forcing. You will ask, why these mistakes or neglects were allowed. We thought other and younger heads had the same love and watchfulness as ourselves. The reason of success, the plants, from the cutting till they blossomed in the pots, were our hobby, our pets, our love, and unless you are as close to your charge you will never meet with anything but ordinary success.