The writer on Roses has a kaleidoscopic view of the Rose garden in all its stages in the course of an afternoon's work at an essay. As he touches on the various points in the routine of culture he sees the russet of autumn, the grey of winter, the green of spring, and the brilliant red of summer. If he be not merely a Rose writer, but a Rose grower, if he have a home-grown Rose in his buttonhole, as well as an inexhaustible supply of the finest medal blooms in his inkpot, he will be happy at every resting place on his journey. Autumn will have no gloom for him, winter no chill. He will, however, enjoy most that stage on the road at which he has to linger among the Roses and describe their charms and merits.
It is summer time, and the Roses are in bloom. Let us wander amongst them, picking here, rejecting there. Fragrant memories of old days among the Roses arise. We look back ten years, twenty, thirty. Alas and alack! it must be twenty-seven since I visited my first show - it was at the Alexandra Palace, unless my memory deceives me - and took down names to help a busy reporter. Those names come back - Reynolds Hole, SÚnateur Vaisse, Charles Lefebvre, Edouard Morren (dropped out of the National catalogue I see), Marie Baumann - these were amongst them, I remember.
The old Roses awaken the emotion that arises when one revisits the scenes of boyhood. Poor old Edouard Morren has passed, and the rosarian of these days knows him not, yet he lives enshrined in the perfumed casket of memory.
Joy in the old Roses that still live! Joy in Marie Baumann, joy in Charles Lefebvre! In poring over an old horticultural tome, a volume of the early sixties, I came upon a wonderful description of a new Rose, sent out by one Lacharme. I cannot quote the description, it is too long; but it tells of splendid colour, splendid form, splendid habit, splendid vigour, splendid perfume. It prophesies universal popularity. It prophesies fifty years of useful life. The writer - it was A. H. Kent - was a sound judge and a true prophet. Forty-one years have passed, and the last edition of the National catalogue says of Charles Lefebvre: "One of the best Roses grown." It is terse, but what an eloquent tribute to the old Rose, and the old writer!
In the remarks that I propose to make on the various sections of Roses, I shall not attempt, in a concise, popular work such as this, a scheme of scientific classification. The reader who is in search of descriptions of the species may turn to Cassell's "Dictionary of Practical Gardening," where he will find a large number described. I shall deal briefly with the principal sections from a horticultural point of view.
The Austrian Briers of gardens are varieties of Rosa lutea, an old single pale yellow species which may be seen flowering in the Rose dell at Kew, near the Pagoda, in June or early July. There are four met with in gardens - namely, the Copper and the Yellow, singles; Harrisonii, yellow, double; and the Persian Yellow, semi-double. Old Roses are these. Did not Gerarde grow the Copper and the Yellow more than four hundred years ago? In truth, did he. All bloom on the ripened shoots of the previous year's growth, therefore they must not be cut back in spring, but old, weak wood must be thinned out.