This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
Fashion is very capricious; - now it is on the verge of a precipice, engaging every eye - threatening, as it were, by its extravagance, to ruin its votaries, and end its very existence, - and now again disappearing in the caverns of obscurity, till we almost speak of it as we would talk of an Indian tale. Still we have to follow. Society commands; 'tis ours to obey. "If we are out of the fashion, we might as well be out of the world".
The little world of Horticulture, like our every-day world, has also its fashions; less perceptible, perhaps, but little less imperious; - fashions in style and in varieties, and fashions in even abstract ideas. We must not think of planting this tree, because "nobody would plant that thing;" nor do this, because "every body says it will do no good." It wont do to say that every one is a fool: apart from its impoliteness, it would be manifestly unjust; for probably no customary usage originated otherwise than in some considerable degree of sound observation. Still, when it hits us too severely, and in justification presents the Ciceronian doctrine, that "a firm agreement among men is the voice of nature, an argument of truth," we may at least be allowed the privilege of a downright, thorough, horticultural grumble.
This privilege I now claim against a prevailing fashion in particular. "Budded Roses soon die out;" '-we couldn't think of planting budded Roses," This is as common as Unole Tom, and, like weather compliments, is in every body's mouth. We want the Rose on its own roots; the whole Rose, and nothing but the Rose, without the degenerating influence of a briar in its nature. This is the new style of talking - the latest freak of floral fashion.
Before formally demurring to this innovating creed, I would invite attention to the advantages budding offers to the Rose-grower, and to the lover of Roses; and if these advantages do not actually cover the objection that "budded Roses soon die out," they will be the more highly valued when that objection is shown to have only an imaginary existance. Necessity is the mother of invention, and utility is probably a sister, or near relative, capable of being the parent of a similar child. Let us, therefore, illustrate our subject by a sketch from the pomological world, the utility of that branch helping us probably to a clearer idea.
Every body knows why a Pear is grafted on the Quince. The Quince is naturally a shrub, ten or fifteen feet in height, and of the same natural family of plants as the Pear, which will "take," or bud or graft, freely on it; but in so doing, loses its tendency to become a tree, and while thus assimilating in size to the Quince, gains an additional power to flower and bear fruit This is in accordance with the physiological doctrine, that what tends to check the wood-forming principle of vegetation, increases its power to blossom and bear. The Rose can be, and is, budded for the same reason, though not for that reason alone. The two principal kinds used for stocks - the Dog Rose, or Eglantine of the poets, Rosa canina (not the Sweet Briar, Rom rubiginosa), and the Manetti variety of the Noisette Rose - are not such vigorous growers as numerous varieties of most of the many classes of Roses, such as Hybrid China, Hybrid Perpetual, many Bourbons and Noisettes. All these, when grafted on stocks of weaker growth than themselves, flower earlier, more abundantly, and, if judiciously pruned, produce as large blossoms as if on their own roots; while, on the other hand, kinds of weaker growth than these stocks, such as the varieties of Provence, Perpetuals, some Bourbons, Teas, Chinas, and some other classes, though they do not flower quite as freely when, budded on them, grow more luxuriantly and vigorously, produce larger and finer specimens, and the flowers they do produce are most superb in comparison with those produced by the same varieties on their own roots.
Those who have never seen Souvenir de la Malmaison on the Dog Rose stock, frequently as they may have seen it on its own roots in very varied circumstances, have yet to see the perfection of Rose-culture - not to say floriculture of any kind.
I have said that this is not the only reason why Roses are budded. The finest portion of a perfect floricultural establishment, is its rosarium. In the formation of this peerless department, how lost should we be without Roses budded standard high! What vases are to French terraces, so are these in the hands of the designer. And then there are so many pretty effects in multitudinous positions and circumstances, to to be obtained only by budded Rosed, that if even the system had a fault or two, I can not comprehend the heart or the head that could devise or utter a complaint against it, instead of striving to forgive and forget It is now many years since I saw a specimen of Noisette Lamarque, budded on a six feet high Dog Rose, trained on an umbrella trellis in the center of a large circular bed of Salvia patens, with Tropaeolum Canariense trained on wires led from the circumference of the bed to and around the circumference of the trellis. The light color of the magnificent Roses, the rich yellow of the Tropaeolums, and the deep blue of the Salvias in their character of base to the cone, formed a picture I shall not soon forget I remember, too, observing, in a milder clime, the whole south side of a building covered by a great variety of Roses growing from one root planted in a sort of cylinder built up in an area, and where only one plant could be grown.
The kind planted was the White Banksian. One main stem seemed to have been carried along horizontally the whole length of the building at the ground line, and at about every three or four feet a bud of a separate kind of Rose had been inserted, and the shoots led up, at the time I saw them, to the top of the building. Strong-growing kinds being selected for putting nearest the root of the Banksian, and the weaker ones at the distance, one kind had no power to outgrow and rob the other, and the effect was highly pleasing. I have never since seen a Jaune dee Prez flowering in such luxuriant profusion as it did on that wall.
There is yet another good and proper reason why budded Roses should be anything but disgraced by the old "mad dog" cry. To a real lover of Roses, a new and distinct kind, fully up to the points of a good Rose, is a priceless treasure, which he is anxious to possess. In one season from the bud he has an opportunity of beholding his anticipated gem; and oh! worse than Vandalism is it in those who have any conception how such "things of beauty" to the Rose-grower "are joys for ever," to nip his pleasures in the bud, by discarding one of the best means whereby to produce them.
But budded Roses are so short-lived! And is this indeed the case? Sometimes it is; but, like modern insurance of goods, it is, after all, often at the risk of the owner. He can guard against this, if he chooses; it is his neglect if they die, provided they are on the Dog Rose or Manetti stocks.
There are three fruitful sources of failure in preserving the lives of budded Roses. The variety of stock is of great importance, in the first place. Every one is aware that the stems of the Raspberry (a species of Rubus) die back every two years; while the commonest English Blackberry (another species of Rubus - R. fruticosus or die-color) often retains its stems ten or a dozen years. The species of Roses have, in a great measure, the same difference in the natural duration of their stems. The branches of the Sweet Briar, for instance, are short-lived in comparison with the Dog Rose, and those of the Maiden's Blush in comparison with the Manetti Rose; and yet these are often substituted the one for the other, to the manifest injury of the real simon pure. If we get a Rose budded on the Maiden's Blush stock, and with proper care, it still dies on our hands, we still believing it to be the Manetti, we are naturally enough prejudiced against "budded Roses," and want "to have no more to do with them." If we are shown Roses on the Manetti or Dog Rose stocks that have died out in the course of a year or so, we can point to others which have stood unscathed for over a quarter of a century.
Another cause of failure is, transplanting budded Roses the first season after the operation. If we remove any tree, the following season the strongest shoots will be from its base; the branches at the extremities frequently put out only leaves, and often die entirely; and so a newly budded Rose, the bud being the extremity, frequently dies out after transplanting, not because it is a "budded Rose," but because it has been injured like the before-mentioned tree. Such Roses, therefore, require more care than Roses on their own roots, in these operations. And again, in transplanted trees, the strong base shoots have to be taken off to strengthen the top; and, in like manner, all suckers and base shoots from the Roses must receive similar attention. Suckers will grow, and so will weeds. By the "sweat of our brows" we must raise Roses, as well as "earn our bread all the days of our lives".
The chief material for the tables of mortality on budded Roses, however, consists of imported stocks. The roots become so enfeebled and injured by the voyage, that they are unable to impart vigor to the stem; the bark becomes "hide-bound"; the course of the sap weak, weaker, and weaker, till "pulsation entirely ceases, and affords another theme "whereon to moralize." All imported stocks are naturally less fitted to stand our climate, than such as have been raised here, and inured to it from infancy. Those who have had any experience in Weeping Sophoras, Laburnums, and similar things, will readily bear me out in this position.
The fact is, budded Roses are not essentially short-lived. With properly selected stocks, care in transplanting, and watchfulness in removing suckers as they appear, we may have them to live as long as Pears on Quinces, or anything else.