If dwarf Roses are not grown less than they used to be, climbers are certainly grown more. The introduction of Crimson Rambler had a very remarkable effect. It not only added to our gardens an exceedingly beautiful, distinct, and valuable Rose, but it led to increased attention being given to all classes of "climbing" Roses.
Climbers have grown in favour, and will continue to grow. In every establishment there will be a climbing Rose somewhere - on the house, on a fence, on an arch, on an arbour. And, naturally, people will want to know how to manage the plants in order to get plenty of healthy growth and abundance of flowers.
Maréchal Niel is not a recognised outdoor Rose. It is grown out of doors, to be sure, in a good many places, and in favoured spots often succeeds; but it cannot be relied upon to ripen its wood in damp localities, consequently it is liable to be badly cut by frost. In districts where a relatively dry atmosphere prevails, and in positions where the tree can be protected in hard weather, the Maréchal often lives for several years in the open air.
In the main Maréchal Niel is an indoor Rose, and as such we may consider it. Grown, to cover the roof of a cool greenhouse or conservatory, or even for the wall of a vinery, it frequently does splendid service. It is even more successful when given a galvanised wire trellis and trained like a Peach, its long shoots stretching away 20 feet or more, all brownish green and ripe from exposure to sun and air. Thus grown, the Maréchal proves what sterling worth is in him, producing every spring scores, or even hundreds, of magnificent flowers.
Time was when Maréchal Niel as an indoor climber was pruned on the system which to this day finds favour with the majority of people for climbing Roses in general - the system of snippety-snip. This, system consists in clipping little bits off here and little bits off there, with a rare - a very rare - interlude of thinning, in which a whole shoot is removed. Times have changed. Snippety-snip no longer rules the roost, for it has been found that the Maréchal thrives the best when hard pruned back every year. Although this plan of going to work has been proved to be far the best in general practice^ it is very difficult to induce those who have never had experience of it to put it into operation. They shake a dubious head when advised to prune their Rose back close to the stock, obviously oppressed by the fear that the plant would never survive such barbarous treatment. I can only say, for the benefit of any such who may read these lines, that, although it has been my privilege to see the Maréchal under all conditions of culture, it is only under the cutting-back system that I have seen it in perfection. When pruned back to within a bud or two of the stock - which may mean cutting off 20 feet, and leaving only 2 inches of each shoot - immediately after flowering, new growth has broken at once, shoots have flown up with amazing rapidity, and in a few short weeks the space formerly occupied has been covered with fresh and healthy wood.
The finest examples that I have ever seen were grown on Peach trellises. They had been budded on to Brier stems about 2 feet high. They were usually in bloom by Easter, and in most seasons Whitsun saw the last flower cut and sent to market. The plants were instantly pruned back, and in September the trellis was covered once more. The growths of the Rose were trained diagonally across the trellis like the ribs of a fan.
It is only in favourable circumstances that this system may be brought into play in the open air. There must be a forward spring, which ensures an early flowering, and enables the grower to get his cutting back done by the end of June or thereabouts; and there must be genial showers throughout the summer to help the plant to make its new growth before the cold weather comes. To complete the tale, there should be a sunny autumn to thoroughly ripen the wood. We do not get this happy association every year.
Fig. 22 shows how anyone who proposes to set apart a lean-to house mainly for Roses, to include the Maréchal, either to get blooms for market or for private pleasure, may proceed in his planting; and Fig. 23 shows how a span-roof house may be utilised to the best advantage. Plants turned out of pots may be planted at almost any period of the year. If planted in the autumn, when leafless, they may be shortened (see D k, Fig. 24), and will then throw up vigorous shoots, as shown in E. The third season's pruning, by which canes are produced for covering the trellis, is shown at F, Fig. 25, and the stumps to which the trees are reduced when the cutting back has taken place are represented at G, g.