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.
In reply to my complaint about roses, you very finely imply that it was not so much the fault of the roses, probably, as of the cultivator, that one-third at least, of each lot, died. Now, when I set out, and do my own work, I think that I am a good gardener. But, when, as now, I direct and other men perform, I am not so sure of success. But, let me tell you my method - or rather, give account of this past summer's experiment.
I selected a piece of good loam, with much clay in it, that had been used for years, for shrubs and flowers. Clearing it off, I opened a trench a hundred feet long, to the depth of two feet. The subsoil was rejected and the trench filled, and trodden firmly with the top soil mixed with compost. This compost was made of old and well rotted manure, turf that had lain in a heap for a year and been well rotted, ashes and bone meal. The compost had been thoroughly turned and mixed. When the plants were set out, a little more ground bone of larger particles, was strewn in the trench. The rose roots were trimmed clearly and the tops cut back to about three or four buds. If they were not well set out, and firmly trodden, then never were plants well put to bed. Thus row after row, and in the fall, from one-fourth to one-third, had died! I do not blame the nurserymen. They are of unblemished reputation. The plants looked well. But such is the history. I could give you the result in former years, of two other plantings in another part of my grounds with like results.
An old negro nurse, who used the English language, with some changes, used to say to a fair friend of mine, who though exposed to small pox, had escaped infection. "Why Miss------you are not acceptable to raptomous diseases;"meaning that she was not accessible to eruptuous diseases. Now, I fear that I am not acceptable to roses - as to open air sown carnations, pansies and hollyhocks, I call no man master. We enjoyed our seedling single dahlias very much this summer. By sowing seed in cold frame early, we had them in bloom by midsummer. Brooklyn, L. I., N. Y., Jan. 2, 1884.
[In correspondence with Mr. Beecher, who thought continual propagation from soft wood under glass might weaken the constitution of the rose plant, the editor agreed, theoretically, yet doubted whether this could be the full cause of Mr. Beecher's bad success. This has brought the above, which we give place to in order that worldwide experience may be brought to bear on the interesting topic.
For our part we are not yet prepared to believe that low vital power is at the bottom of the trouble. We should look still lower, and probably find the larva of the May-beetle, which has a soft place in its heart for rose roots. - Ed. G. M].