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.
"L. B. C," Richmond, Indiana, says: Have you ever had any satisfactory experience in growing the seed of the Moss rose? Do they come true with any degree of certainty? or do they produce seedlings similar to the original type or parent (of the Moss) rose. I infer, after reading "Parsons on the Rose," that the character is constant, and can be imparted to climbing or, in fact, any other variety of roses. Still the fact remains, that they do not seem to succeed, or are not worthy competitors to other and more desirable sorts. I have often been told by naturalists that the roses in the far north develop and mature very large and edible fruit (hips). What species is it that produces them, and how far north did you see them last summer? Please give us in the Monthly your observations on them as a fruit in Alaska. I am afraid you have not told us near all you saw in Alaska of horticultural interest. Of course only a very limited number of the readers of the Monthly will ever see that country, and we are all anxious to know of the vegetable wonders you saw there.
[The Editor has not seen Moss roses seeding, except perhaps Wm. Lobb, which is but an apology for a Moss at any rate. But very often a kind barren in one part of the world will be fertile in others, and they may seed freely in some places.
It is now known that most varieties of plants will reproduce themselves from seed, and we have no hesitation in saying that a Moss rose would yield Moss rose seedlings.
The kind referred to by literatists as producing edible fruits, is the Rosa canina, or Dog rose. It is sweet and very palatable, but the fuzzy bristles about the seeds make some care desirable, and in the language of a sportsman, we regard "the game not worth the powder".
The fruit of Rosa cinnamomea - the Cinnamon rose - grows very large in Alaska, and constitutes one of the many ornaments of that lovely species. They are often as large as Damson plums; but the writer did not think to taste them. Some authors think the prevailing form in Alaska as distinct from R. cinnamomea, and describe it as R. nutkana. It was found north as far as the writer reached, in the vicinity of Mount Saint Elias, and no doubt extends much further, as here it was in the track of a receding glacier.
One of the prettiest wild roses of that part of the world is Rosa gymnocarpa, as far as the plant and fruit are concerned. The leaves are finely divided not much coarser than the Austrian briar. The fruit is small, not much larger than a good sized holly berry, but with the bright, holly-berry tint. They are freely produced, and a bush four or five feet high is extremely attractive. This species, however, was not found in Alaska, but on the boundaries in British Columbia.
The Editor regrets much his inability, for want of time, to write more than he has done about this beautiful land. He promised some friends that on his return he would do what he could to obtain a government for this interesting spot, and much of the time he could spare for Alaska subjects the past winter has been devoted to that purpose. Alaska has at length got the government it ought to have had long ago; and now he is not sure but humanity will regret that the task has been done. The class of people who are clamoring to rule, are not the ones who are fit to help an Indian along. The Alaska Indians, of whom there are probably fifty thousand, are anxious to learn and be civilized, but they want to learn something that will be of use to themselves. The men who go there to teach are utterly unable to grasp the Indian character, or to appreciate an Indian's wants. They offer something the Indian does not want, and would be little good to him if he did want; and it is this inability to reach the Indian's comprehension, that causes most of the troubles we have with them. When they understand that a live white man is of more value to them than a dead one, the white man is perfectly safe in their hands. The feeling that the white man has the best of the bargain is bound to irritate them.
The writer found them quite willing to experiment with gardening, glad to get seeds and raise vegetables and flowers. Some horticultural missionaries imbued with a self-sacrificing missionary spirit, would work wonders among these simple children of the northern forests. Men like Duncan at Metacahtla can work wonders; but what will be those who will flock there now?