This section is from the book "The Gardener V3", by William Thomson. Also available from Amazon: The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.
DESCENDING now from roseate heights, and ere we reach the perfumed plains below, we must halt to gaze upon our PILLAR ROSES, some rising singly here and there, like the proud standards of victorious troops; some meeting in graceful conjunction, saluting each other like our forefathers and foremothers in the stately minuet - bowing themselves, like tall and supple cavaliers, into arches of courtesy, with keystones of cocked hats. In both phases these Pillar Roses are beautiful additions to the rosarium, enabling us to enliven, with a pleasing diversity, that level which is described as dead. But with reference to the first, I must offer to amateurs a respectful caution - that to grow single specimens in isolated positions, where they will invite, and ought to satisfy, special criticism - knowledge of habit, and experience in pruning, will be indispensable. Melancholy results must inevitably ensue from ignorance or inattention; and I have shuddered to see examples of both in long lanky trees, without any lateral shoots, flowerless and leafless for three-fourths of their height, reminding one of those shorn disgusting poodles, profanely termed by their proprietors "lions," as they stand upon their execrable hind-legs to beg.
But not upon them - not upon the helpless object - but on the barbarous owner, we must expend our noble rage; upon those who have brought innocent loveliness to the whipping-post, or rather the pillory, and compelled her to look the words which St Simeon Stylites moaned - "Patient on this tall pillar, I have borne Rain, wind, frost, heat, hail, damp, and sleet, and snow".
The best plan of growing these Roses, which a long experience has taught me, is this: To prepare and enrich your soil as I have advised in chapters vi. and vii., and then to fix firmly therein the pillar which is to support the trees. Of what material is this pillar to be 1 - wood or iron 1 The former commends itself to the eye (and the pocket) at once; and I well remember the satisfaction with which I surveyed an early experiment with larch poles, well charred and tarred, driven deep into the ground, and looking from the very first so very rustic and natural. The Rose-trees grew luxuriantly, and for three or four summers I esteemed myself invincible in the game of pyramids. Then one night there came heavy rain, attended by a hurricane, and when I went out next morning, two of my best trees were lying flat npon the ground, with their roots exposed (the poles, having decayed near the surface, had snapped suddenly); and several others were leaning like the tower at Pisa, some hopelessly displaced, and others deformed and broken. Fallen, and about to fall, they looked as though their liquid manure had been mixed too strong for them, and had made them superlatively drunk.
Shortly afterwards I had another disaster, caused by a similar decay - the top of a pole, in which two iron arches met each other, giving way to a boisterous wind, and so causing a divorcement between Brennus and Adelaide d'Orleans, long and lovingly united. I would therefore advise, not dwelling upon other disadvantages resulting from the use of wood - such as the production of fungi, and the open house which it provides for insects - that the supports for Pillar Roses be of iron. Neatly made and painted, tastefully and sparingly posed, they are never unsightly; and, enduring as long as the trees themselves, will in the end repay that first outlay which makes them, for some time, an expensive luxury.
The height and thickness of these single rods will be determined by the position to be occupied, from 5 to 8 feet above the ground being the most common altitudes, and the circumference varying from 1|-to 3 inches. Below the surface, their tripod prongs must be deeply and securely fixed from 1 foot to 18 inches in the soil, so as to bear any weight of flowers and foliage, and defy all the royal artillery of aeolus. For arches, the rods may be 7 or 8 feet from the ground, and 8 or 9 feet apart.
The ground and supports being prepared, a selection may be made from the list subjoined of varieties, vigorous and beautiful (as the recruiting sergeant picks out for the Guards the more robust examples of humanity); and these, whether on their own roots, or worked upon brier or manetti stocks, according to their habit and the character of the soil, should be planted in November, and safely tied to their rods. Tarred twine is the best material for the latter purpose, being cheap, durable, and to be had in different thicknesses, according to the strength required. Prune closely in the following March, removing three-fourths of your wood, so as to insure a grand growth in the summer, which, moderately shortened in the succeeding spring, should furnish your pillar, from soil to summit, with flowering lateral shoots. By the time your tree has attained the dimensions required, your observation will have taught you how, for the future, so to prune it that you may be sure of an annual bloom, cutting away all weakly wood, and regulating the general growth with an eye both to form and florescence.