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.
Mr Cant says: - "In planting Roses, a hole should be made about 18 inches deep, and large enough to contain half a wheelbarrowful of compost; two-thirds of this should be strong turfy loam, and one-third well-decomposed animal manure. These should be thoroughly mixed together".
Mr Cranston writes in his ' Cultural Directions for the Rose,' which may be followed by amateurs with a sure confidence: - "I have found, after repeated trials for some years, that pig-dung is the best of all manures for Roses; next night-soil, cow-dung, and horse-dung. These should stand in a heap from one to three months, but not sufficiently long to become exhausted of their ammonia and salts. Pig-dung should be put on the ground during winter or early spring, and forked in at once. In using night-soil, mix with burnt earth, sand, charcoal-dust, or other dry substance. Apply a small portion of the mixture to each plant or bed during winter, and let it be forked in at once. Soot is a good manure, especially for the Tea-scented and other Roses on their own roots; so are wood-ashes and charcoal. Bone-dust or half-inch bones forms an excellent and most lasting manure. Guano and superphosphate of lime are both good manure for Roses, but require to be used cautiously".
Mr Keynes of Salisbury recommends " a good wheelbarrowful of compost - two-thirds good turfy loam, and one-third well-decomposed animal manure." He adds, and the words of one whose Roses, in a favourable season, cannot be surpassed in size or colour, should be remembered practically, "It is difficult to give the Rose too good a soil".
Messrs Lane of Berkhampstead write thus: " The best method of manuring beds is to dig in a good dressing of stable or other similar manure, this being the most safe from injuring vegetation in any soil, and it never does more good to Roses than when it is used as a surface-dressing. "When placed, about 2 inches deep, over the surface in March, the ground seldom suffers from drought, but this is, perhaps, by some considered unsightly".
Mr George Paul, "the hero of a hundred fights," advises that "in planting the ground should be deeply trenched, and well-rotted manure be plentifully added. If the soil be old garden-soil, add good loam, rich and yellow; choose a dry day for the operation, and leave the surface loose. Stake all Standards, and mulch with litter, to protect the roots from frost." Well does this young champion sustain the ancient honours of his house, having achieved no less than forty-four first prizes at our principal exhibitions in the summer of 1868.
Mr William Paul, in his interesting work, 'The Rose-Garden,' of which a modernised edition would be very acceptable in the world of Roses, gives, in the introduction, his results of his experiments with manure. "In the summer of 1842," he writes, "six beds of Tea-scented Roses were manured with the following substances: 1, bone-dust; 2, burnt earth; 3, nitrate of soda; 4, guano; 5, pigeon-dung; 6, stable manure, thoroughly decomposed. The soil in which they grew was an alluvial loam. The guano produced the earliest visible effects, causing a vigorous growth, which continued till late in the season; the foliage was large and of the darkest green, but the flowers on this bed were not very abundant. The shoots did not ripen well, and were consequently much injured by frost during the succeeding winter. The bed manured with burnt earth next forced itself into notice; the plants kept up a steadier rate of growth, producing an abundance of clear, well-formed blossoms; the wood ripened well, and sustained little or no injury from the winter's frost.
The results attendant on the use of the other manures were not remarkable; they had acted as gentle stimulants, the nitrate of soda and bones least visibly so, although they were applied in the quantities usually recommended by the vendors. . . . I think burned and charred earth the best manure that can be applied to wet or adhesive soils".
Mr Turner of Slough does not show his cards, but when he comes to play them on the green cloth or baize of the exhibition-table, no man deals more honourably, knows the game more thoroughly, holds more trump cards, or scores the honours more frequently.
Messrs Wood of Maresfield, perhaps the largest growers of the Rose in the world, commend a mixture of well-seasoned animal manure, with the top-spit of an old pasture, deep trenching, thorough draining, and a free use of the pruning-knife the first year after planting.
Concluding this long chapter, I would earnestly assure the novice in Rose-growing that there is only one exception (and that in Egypt) to the rule, " Ex nihilo nihil fit." If he really means to make the Rose his hobby, and to enjoy the ride, he must feed him liberally and regularly with old oats and beans. The Rose cannot be grown in its glory without frequent and rich manure; and again I recommend that the best farmyard dung be dug in towards the end of November, if the ground is dry, and that the surface-dressing, prescribed by Dr Rivers, be administered in May or June. And if neighbours, who are not true lovers of the Rose, expostulate, and condemn the waste, quote for their edification those true words of Victor Hugo in ' Les Miserables,' " the beautiful is as useful as the useful, perhaps more so".
"We have found our situation, we have prepared our soils: we will speak next of the arrangement of the Rosary, and then of the Rose itself. S. Reynolds Hole.