This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V26", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Thanking you for your very kind request, Mr. Editor, I will endeavor to write something of my experience on the above subject. But first, if you will allow me, I desire to very mildly suggest that I think your Rose Editor " must have been a little off" the day he looked over the proof of my former article. The error of my own name is of little importance, but the errors in the names of the roses fairly made me shiver. If you will kindly correct them, they are as follows:
For Eugene Verdier read Eugenie Verdier; Anne de Driesbach - Anne de Diesbach; Marie Rudy - Marie Rady; Elise Balle White - Eliza Boelle, white; Mad. Auguste Persin - Mad. Au-guste Perrin; Cecile Bonum - Cecile Brunner.
I am glad you did not get it Bummer. Of course, my writing was poor and careless, but then I supposed that the Rose Editor of the leading horticultural magazine of the country would at a glance produce the properly spelled name of almost any rose from the most illegible scrawl.
The writer has often been asked: Which is the best season for planting roses - spring or fall? and very often replies: Don't wait for the one or the other, but put some out the very first season after you decide to grow them, be it spring or fall. I have grown beautiful Tea roses by planting them among a bed of tulips after the middle of June, and good Hybrid Perpetuals can be grown in any garden border that will grow other flowers, if carefully set out early in spring and given a good mulching of well-rotted manure. It is a good thing to make a start on a small scale, and without any feeling as though it were a formidable undertaking. As one feels his way along, he will soon know wether he has sufficient enthusiasm and love for roses to become successful in growing them. Very few people have; and consequently about nine out of ten fail; but this does not make it any worse for the successful one. After one has become sufficiently encouraged and determined to succeed, I shall be thankful if the record of my own experience will be of any assistance.
Some one has written in regard to roses that it is not necessary to own a farm and a wood lot, etc, to grow them successfully. I have forgotten who the writer was and the supplemental directions given, but my own experience is, that the above auxiliaries are very desirable, and I would advise the reader if he desires to enter the arena of successful rose growing, so that his children may gather roses, without restriction, as free as dandelions, and so that he may return from exhibitions " prepared to make the family plate chest groan," that if he is not fortunate enough to possess the above requisites himself to at once make the acquaintance of some one who is more fortunate in that respect. Then in some convenient out-of-the-way place heap up a supply of turf, from new ground, if possible, and haul from the nearest brewery a few loads of spent hops, and procure a liberal supply of cow manure. After the first turning the three heaps can be worked together into one, about equal quantities of each. This should be turned several times during the summer season, and finally just before winter closes in.
It will take from one to two years to get it in good condition for rose growing, and in fact for several years its condition will be constantly improving for this purpose.
My experience in growing roses has been almost wholly confined to bush kinds in beds and borders on the lawn. For this purpose select a locality somewhat sheltered from northerly winds. I make the beds sometimes in circular, sometimes in elliptical form, and sometimes in borders along a driveway or walk. Unless the soil is good and drainage already provided I excavate about eighteen inches, finally loosening up the bottom tier which is to remain. Good drainage is imperative and tile should be laid along the bottom of the excavation, unless there is already a drain passing under or quite near. If there is no outside drain accessible for a discharge, a fair substitute can be made by digging a hole about the size of a barrel, at the lower end of the excavation, which should be filled with loose stones. The retention of any portion of the excavated soil is a matter of judgment as to its quality and can only be decided by practice and experiment. As a general rule, if of fair quality the upper soil can be retained and mixed about one-half each with the compost prepared as above. If it is decided not to retain any of the excavated soil procure some rich loamy soil and mix with your compost, using about one-half each.
I round up my beds so that the center is often a foot or more above the lawn.
This has been criticized, but I think the advantages are in its favor. The ground should be well settled and in a natural condition before the roses are planted. A favorite plan of mine is to make up the beds in the spring and put out Asters or Gladiolus or bedding plants, and then put out Hybrid Perpetuals in the fall.
Aside from the considerations mentioned in the beginning, I prefer fall planting for these roses. They are then in a dormant condition; the ground becomes firmly settled before spring; the roots commence growing very early below the frost, and the plant gets the earliest possible start, thus reducing the check from transplanting to a minimum. When transplanted in spring, it is very important that it should be done before the buds have started, otherwise the growth is checked, which is a serious injury to the plant, and it is very important that the roots of the plant are kept moist during the period of transplanting. Do not allow manure to come in contact with the roots, nor even a very rich compost. This is one fruitful source of disease. Keep the manure below them, where they can go to it at their pleasure, or on the surface, as a mulching. I have often noticed the roots of roses growing away from the rich soil in the bed, and running out into the surrounding soil, and yet, without a liberal supply of fertilizing material to feed them success is impossible.
Some of the various forms of liquid manure are a great help for a short time previous to and during the June flowering season, and a mulching of compost, or well rotted cow manure, should be applied and worked into the surface soil from time to time, as the plants seem to require it. Water should be applied generously, especially during the flowering season. Evening is the best time for application. By a proper management of pruning and watering, one can have a supply of Hybrid Perpetual roses all through the summer and fall seasons. It is difficult to lay down rules for others in these respects. Each one must experiment and try for himself, and if he has not enterprise enough to do this and watch for the results, and profit thereby, he will not succeed.
Fall planting should not be made until after frost severe enough to cause the foliage to drop. After planting, cut them back, leaving only two or three shoots to a plant, and two or three buds to a shoot. As soon as severe winter weather sets in, the plants should be well covered with evergreen boughs. I have had good success in wintering the most tender of our H. P. roses, such as Louis Van Houtte and Eugenie Verdier, also the Hybrid Tea La France, and many of the tender Tea roses, with no other covering than evergreen boughs, having them now in my garden four and five years old, and some of our recent winters have been very severe. A blanket of snow over the boughs gives the very best possible protection, and I have frequently, during the past winter, when the temperature was below zero, run a sharp pointed stick through the snow and boughs, and found the ground free from frost, and this notwithstanding the ground was frozen solid when the boughs were put on.
After the first year I manage the pruning as follows. Cut away all the old wood in the fall, just before laying the plants down for the winter, and thin out the new growth, leaving from two to four of the best shoots. These are bent down in early winter some day when they are not frozen, and held there with stakes. Care and a little ingenuity must be exercised in handling the stiff, heavy shoots of some of the vigorous varieties, and in so protecting them that the heavy mass of boughs and snow which they are liable to carry will not crush them. They break easily when frozen. In the spring, the first thing after uncovering (and do not be in too much of a hurry about uncovering), these shoots are cut back leaving from eight to twenty inches, according to the vigor of the plant. Always bear in mind that the more wood you leave the more work you assign the plant for the coming season; and the work of course should be in proportion to the strength of the plant. This is the only general rule one can have as regards pruning, and this is not safe in all cases, as some roses will scarcely bear any pruning at all; and there are some other features of pruning that can only be learned by experience.
I am often asked how I keep my roses so clean and free from insects. I always answer, keep them in a healthy and vigorous condition and you have accomplished the first great step in this direction. Water is the best remedy, and a good showering every evening is a terror to the insect tribe. The elevation of the beds above the level of the lawn, permitting a thorough application of the water and a free circulation of air and sunshine, and frequent stirring of the soil, are very disturbing to their coveted repose. The season of the leaf roller is short, and an occasional hour in the early morning will soon place him "hors de combat," and an occasional hour can be given to the rose slug when it comes out to feed in the early evening if it becomes too numerous. I have never seen but one rose bug in my garden, and I clipped him in two halves with my scissors; each half ran off in a different direction, and I suppose they told such dreadful tales that no others have dared to appear.
Mildew has given me much more trouble than all the insect family put together. I know that good care and cultivation is a great preventive, but I never feel quite safe from an attack from it of more or less severity, especially late in the season.
The Rev. S. Reynolds Hole, in his unapproachable work on roses says: "He who would have beautiful roses in his garden must have beautiful roses in his heart. He must love them well and always. He must have not only the glowing admiration, the enthusiasm, and the passion, but the tenderness, the thoughtfulness, the reverence, the watchfulness of love. He is loyal and devoted ever in storm fraught or in sunny days. Not only the first on summer mornings to gaze admiringly on glowing charms, but the first, when leaves fall and winds are chill, to protect against cruel frost. To others, when its flowers have faded, it may be worthless as a hedge row thorn; to him in every phase it is precious".
We must remember that in this country we have never been so enthusiastic over roses as they have in England. Roses do not take to our climate as. naturally as on the other side of the water, and if such care and thoughtfulness are necessary there, it is certainly absolutely indispensable to success here. I know of many instances of failure from no other cause, and I know of at least one rose garden in a neighboring State which was once the pride of the surrounding country, but the owner passed away. The same family continued in the place, and the same gardener cared for the roses, but after a year or two they did not thrive, and I was sadly surprised to note the difference. They all agreed that the roses had been quite a failure for the past year, and a number of reasons were given; such as, some gradual change of climate, or the soil was worn out, or a severe winter, or troublesome insects. I had not the heart to give them my opinion, but I felt that the one who cared for them was gone, and henceforth that was no place for roses.
It is a great blessing for any busy man to have some recreation - something to break in on the monotonous treadmill of everyday cares and troubles, and those whose tastes lie in the right direction will find the culture of roses admirably adapted to this purpose.
For all the joys before one,
And of all the pleasures keen, Next the joys of home and children,
There is nothing that I ween, Like a garden full of roses,
In their colors bright and clear, When their lover there reposes,
Oft a weary hour to cheer.
[The Editor is not the proofreader, though of course he has to be held responsible for the proofreader's errors. The best security against error in proper names is, that they be written with extra pains as to legibility. - Ed. G. M.J