When the soil has been properly prepared for Roses, planting is both swiftly and simply performed. When it has not been properly prepared, planting is slow and difficult.
People may have realised this with their Geraniums. Set out to plant a flower bed without a preliminary digging, and the trowel can only be driven in with an expenditure of force that the economical mind recoils from. Use the fork first, and the trowel does its work with ease.
When the soil has been well trenched for Roses, shovelling out to get in the plant is child's play. The spade never bites and jars; it sinks freely and luxuriously in, revelling in its pleasant duty. The soil comes out all a-crumble.
The hole may be made nearly 1 foot deep. If that has not brought the operator into the neighbourhood of the manure used in the bastard trenching, a light coat of well-decayed stuff may be laid in and covered with a couple of inches of soil. Do not make a deep, narrow hole and pack it with rank dung; that is bad.
Set the plant squarely in the hole, and see how things are for depth. What we are aiming at is to finish with the collar just, and only just, covered with soil. If when we set the plant in we have so far miscalculated in our shovelling that the collar is distinctly below the surface level, we must withdraw the tree and put in a little more soil; if the collar is above the level we must have some out.
We shall find from experience that the rootstocks of our trees differ, some being deeper than others. We could, of course, so manipulate them as to make them very much alike; but that is just what we are not going to do.
The next step to getting a proper level is to cover. Stand the plant square, and work some fine soil about the roots. Lightly shake the tree, and settle this soil in among the roots. Afterwards, fill the hole. People are often rather nervous about firming the soil. They fear the weight of the gardener's foot, and dread injury to the roots. These fears are, in the main, groundless. When one has had experience in planting, he does not damage roots in firming the soil with his foot. Using the toes and ball, he gently, but withal firmly, "kneads" the soil into a compact mass.
Let the absolutely upper layer of soil be loose, and scatter over it a thin mulching of manure; then the work is done.
What, though, about staking? It ought not to be wanted for dwarfs, although necessary for standards. If I had very strong dwarfs to deal with, especially in an exposed position, I might stake, because, if heavy winds caused the plants to sway, the collar would be exposed, and the roots would not have a proper chance of getting hold. But it is more likely that I should take off a third of each strong branch, to reduce the wind surface. There is no harm whatever in this, even if it is done in autumn, so long as pruning proper is deferred till spring.
In the case of standards, the stake should be regarded as indispensable, and put in with the Rose. And let the stake be a long one - 5 to 6 feet if possible. It should be 18 inches in the soil.
It frequently happens that a Rose tree has most of its roots on one side, instead of in a circle round the stem. Shape the hole to fit the roots.
The same root system will very likely be found to exist with arch and wall Roses. Here there is no trouble. The commonsense of the planter tells him to turn the side with the fewest roots to the support.
To summarise: Dig deep, plant shallow; spread the roots, close the soil; buy early, plant early, prune early; win prizes early and bank the money early; live long, and plant some Roses every year.