This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V22", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Some years ago I tried experiments with tree roses, working them by budding four feet high on the common Prairie roses as stocks. The first winter they were carefully tied with rye straw. It proved an exceptionally hard winter; at one time reaching as low as 31° below zero. As a consequence, every upright stock was frozen down to the snow line. A few that were bent down and covered with earth only survived. This was rather discouraging, there being about twelve hundred strong stocks in the block.
The following season about one-half the number was budded, selecting, as in the first season, a strong shoot from each stock, cutting away all others, working over some of them twice, and some even a third time to make sure that every stock had a living bud by the end of the season. In December all were laid down lengthwise of the rows, covered with earth, and so remained till spring, when they were drawn out, stems quite green and buds all alive. Owing to the great strength of the stocks, I had hopes of having a fine growth from the buds when once they had reached the spring in safety. Every sprout that appeared on stem and base of stocks was carefully rubbed off during the summer. Most of the buds pushed vigorously early in the season, and some made tolerably fair heads by the end; but, the great majority failed to come up to my expectations in size. About one third of the stocks blackened in spots and pieces, something in the manner of pear blight, cutting off all communication between root and bud; whole stems dying even after the buds had made several inches of growth. The stocks were grown on strong rose ground, no manure was used.
The varieties used as stocks were Prairie Queen, Anna Maria and Milledgeville. On the whole, the experiment seemed too much of a failure and was discontinued. I presume other parties may have done the same thing with more or less modification, but men don't generally like to record their failures, forgetful of the fact that in horticultural operations, we learn something from a failure.
Now the why and wherefore of this failure will be attributed by intelligent, practical men generally, to the action of the sun on the bare stems of the stocks. To offset this theory, I can state the fact of a success by a German gardener at Columbus, in this State, whom I visited a few months since. He grows tree roses on a small scale, but having done so for quite a number of years - some of his standards being now fifteen years old - establishes the fact that it can be done and successfully too. When I first saw the plantation above referred to six years ago, there were some three to four dozen standards, three to four feet high, in his front yard, with very large heads; besides these he had a small nursery of a few hundred in the rear of his city lot, in different stages. I saw the large plants in their full blooming season, and they were a grand sight to behold. Such immense heads of Hermosa, showy Bosanquettes and glowing Agrippinas, and of the hardy hybrids Lord Raglan, Baronne Prevost, Geant de Battailles, etc, bloomed in unusual size of flower and splendor of coloring. Such, indeed, as would compare favorably with many specimens of the same in the grand old roseries of the old world.
The stock used for these roses is the much abused Manetti.
From these facts it seems clear that our prairie roses are unsuited as stocks for tree roses. The objection to the manetti is that it sprouts so much from the root, but the prairie stocks with my little experience, sprouted a great deal too, from the collar of the plant. The price, however, of tree roses is care. Care in selection of stocks, budding and the general details of culture. I doubt whether we can grow them as isolated specimens; in groups they will be more secure, if sufficient room be allowed for laying them down in winter.
It is probable that south of the Ohio, standard or tree roses can be cultivated without the trouble of laying them down in winter. The cost, however, of laying them down anywhere will not exceed ten dollars a thousand; so that judging from the price that commercial men have to pay for imported stock, it will pay to grow them in our own country, if once we can decide on the best stock to work on and get rid of the fear of climatic difficulties.
Would be pleased to hear from any one, through the Monthly, who has tried experiments, or has anything to suggest on the subject.