This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
BY MR. M'ARDELL, FOREMAN, CASTLE HILL GARDENS.
Having offered a few remarks at p. 212 on pruning Roses, on the present occasion perhaps a few words on specimen plants may be interesting.
Specimen Roses should be planted in conspicuous and appropriate situations. They should be few, but well grown. Respecting the kinds of specimens to be cultivated, they may be: 1, bushes or shrubs; 2, standards of particular kinds; and 3, standards with several varieties budded on the same stock. By beginning with them when young, the first description of specimens may be pruned and trained to attain almost any size. A Rose on its own roots should be selected with six good branches. If the latter are strong, they may be cut back to ten or twelve inches in length; but if weak, they should be cut back to a single eye, as it is necessary that they should start strongly. With six strong shoots cut back to ten or twelve inches, a good foundation is secured for a fine shrub. In training, use hooked sticks stuck into the ground to hold the shoots at equal distances, and spread them out with their ends about six inches from the ground. These should make growth one season, and at the next pruning-time cut out all weak branches, and remove all shoots that come up from the root. The shoots must be shortened to various lengths, from one to three or four eyes, so as to form a good shrub, and any that are in the way should be cut out.
The after-treatment of this kind of specimen is as simple as that of a Currant-bush; but in all pruning of Roses it is necessary that the shoots should be cut as close to the eye as possible without injuring it, and all shoots that are cut away should be cut close to the stem from which they grew. All shoots not cut close to the eye are liable to die back past the eye. Once arrived at sufficient size and strength, the shrub will live for years, and continue in perfection in a kind of wild growth with but little pruning, and yet be a beautiful plant, for it will in a manner prune itself, or at least those shoots that require removing will die back, and there will be only the dead wood to cut away. It must be borne in mind, however, that the above specimen will not answer the purpose of almost managing itself until it is several vears old. .
A specimen Tree Rose should be selected thus: first, let it be on a strong healthy stock, perfectly straight; secondly, the bud should have been placed on a strong shoot, and nearly close to the stock; thirdly, it should be of a sort calculated to form a good head. If a standard be not attended to at first, it never will be handsome. As regards pruning, the object should be to get the head as large across as the height from the ground to its under part; and in thickness, from the bottom of the head to the top, two-thirds its diameter. In pruning standards, the end bud should be left under the branch, in order that the lower branches may incline downwards; and these end shoots being; left two or three eves long every time the trees are pruned, the latter soon arrive at the desired size; but when any portion of the tree wants filling up, four or five eyes may be left. As the trees advance to a large size, they require less assistance from us. They assume an imposing appearance, and the increase of the head is very much slower, for the tree has more to support, and therefore requires but little pruning.
The third kind of specimens are both curious and interesting. To have them in good condition, it is well to begin with a good strong Brier, and instead of cutting off the forked head, as many branches as possible should be retained; at least there should be three or four good shoots spreading out about a foot each way when the Brier is planted. The latter should have equally as much care as a good Rose with respect to root, pruning, application of dung, &&, all of which it should receive on the spot where it is to remain. All the shoots on the stock should be rubbed off, but none from the forked branches. About three branches should be allowed to remain and grow on each of these forked ones. In selecting branches to be retained, have an eye to the object aimed at, which is to place a bud upon each shoot; therefore those should remain that occupy the best position to support the independent growth of their own head. Each of these shoots should be budded in July, and none should be allowed to grow that are not budded. The buds must be put in as close to the heel as possible, and they should be from different Roses, but all of one habit (of the slow-growing kinds), because, if some were more vigorous than others, there would be no regularity of growth.
In pruning these, the greatest thing to be attended to is, to cut them where they are crowded, removing all superfluous wood, and attending to their general growth. Small Roses are the best for this kind of specimen, and the colours should be contrasted as much as possible. When in bloom, such a Rose is very attractive, and in two years, on a strong Brier, it will form a perfect head, although it will improve for many years afterwards. The stock and forked branches must be prevented from making shoots.
As regards the situations in which specimen plants should grow, much depends on the form of the clumps, and beds on the lawn, and the disposition of the walks. They may be planted with advantage near a clump, but not too close to it, and if opposite an inward curve, so much the better; but there should be twelve feet between the specimen and the clump, and in all cases they should be four or five feet from the walk. In many places, a few specimen Roses add greatly to the general effect; but until they arrive at a large size they are not worth notice; yet it is better to grow them where they are to remain than to remove them when full grown, for when removed at that age they never answer well afterwards.
Oct. 7 th.