Let us look a little farther into the details of pruning, this time in connection with Teas. Every year these lovely varieties - which, be it remarked, are far more "perpetual" than the so-called "Hybrid Perpetuals" - grow in favour. Teas are pruned hard by exhibitors, who want a few very fine blooms, but hard pruning is not the thing to give a long succession, extending over several months, of sweet, shapely, and beautiful blossoms.
Fig. 20 will help us in our search for the happy medium in pruning Teas and Hybrid Teas. It shows us (A B C D) a set of plants in different stages on their own roots, and (E F) a pair of plants at two different stages on the seedling Brier stock.
We have inserted a cutting (A) of La France, or some other Tea or Hybrid Tea, which in due course pushes roots (a) and branches (b). In a year's time we transplant it, pruning the weak shoots to a single bud (c), and plant it deeply enough to bury the whole of the cutting stem (d). Two strong branches spring up (f), which we prune in the spring of the following year. If we want a few very fine flowers we prune hard (h); if we want good growth and a long supply of nice blooms we prune lightly (g).
In either case the result of our pruning is to cause our plant to throw out side shoots. If we prune lightly we get a bush similar to G; if we prune hard we get a bush similar to D. C has more wood than D, and it will give more flowers, but the individual blossoms will not be quite so fine as those of B.
The exhibitor uses the seedling Brier a good deal for his Teas, and his mode of procedure is outlined in figures E and F, wherein are shown the shortening of the yearling and the subsequent pruning of the two years old tree.
The foregoing, and the references which accompany the figures, will perhaps serve to give even novices a good conception of the principles of pruning as applied to dwarf Roses, and not only that, but a practical idea of actual work. For the rest, knife exercise must hold sway. To learn pruning as it should be learned, the grower must have a book in one hand and a knife in the other. The book should be clear, and the knife should be sharp. The writer of the book should express his views boldly, and the student should cut boldly.
To sum up, no pruning is bad; hard pruning is good chiefly for the exhibitor, moderate pruning is best for the large army of Rose growers who, like myself, grow a collection of Roses of various classes, and want blooms from them, not only of true character and presentable form, but in large numbers for cutting.
The varieties which naturally produce long, strong shoots must always be lightly pruned, because they produce their finest blooms from the uppermost buds; on the other hand, those sorts which naturally make short, twiggy wood may be closely pruned, because they produce their best blooms near the base.
In all cases the bushes must be kept open. In crowded bushes the wood remains soft and unripe. No matter what the system of pruning adopted, the wood must be plump and firm, otherwise the buds will be weak, and the shoots incapable of flowering well. It is particularly necessary to study this point with naturally coarse growers. The best plan with such is to thin out some of the shoots altogether, cutting them clean away from the base, like overcrowded Raspberry canes. Those left will then ripen, and with very little pruning will flower abundantly.
If Roses have been injured by frost, pruning time in spring may be a period of some little anxiety, and discrimination may be called for. The strong, ripened shoots which we should, in the ordinary way, have pruned little, we may have to cut hard, in fact we mush keep cutting farther and farther down until we have removed every bit of brown pith, and come to the greenish grey healthy wood.
The latest growth made i.e. the wood which develops towards autumn, is naturally the softest and most liable to injury. This, being near the extremities of the bush, goes first in pruning.