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.
In this country the propagation of the Rose has been much neglected until within a very few years. We have been supplied mostly by importations from Europe; but we look for better things in the future. Of course, we shall be obliged to import new varieties so long as we neglect to produce them ourselves, or allow our simple vanity to get the better of our judgment.
We have always given the preference to a plant that was brought out in Europe over those of our own country. The Madame Trudeaux Rose, which originated in Bloomingdale, N. Y., was christened with a French name, then sent from New York to France, and there made known to the world, before Americans could be induced to purchase it. This is but one case among the many that are constantly occurring, to the chagrin of those who get a peep behind the scenes.
The question for us to consider at the present time is, how shall we supply ourselves with good, strong, well-grown plants? Shall it be by importing them, or shall we grow them ourselves? Are the imported plants better than those grown in this country? Again, can we import them cheaper than we can grow them? We think not, for several reasons; and we believe that the best way for us to get a good supply of roses is to turn our attention to their propagation, and give up importing altogether, excepting for the purpose of obtaining new foreign varieties.
The stock on which the French nurserymen bud their roses is enough to condemn them from the beginning, as they generally use the wild rose of the woods, which is dug up by the farmers about the country, and sold to the nurserymen for a mere trifle. These stocks are almost destitute of small fibrous roots; yet they seem to possess vigor enough to produce a very good growth for two or three years after being transplanted; but after that they are of very little use. Taken as they are from the shade of the forest or hedge-rows, and planted in the nursery, where they are exposed to the scorching sun, the bark becomes so dry and hard that it refuses to expand, or allow the wood to increase in size, or the sap to circulate. When they have been exposed to one long sea voyage, there is but little left of the original vigor they may have once possessed.
The roses that we get from France on their own roots are generally very small and weak, and they suffer much in transportation; besides, there are but few varieties that grow as strong or bloom as well on their own roots as when budded on pood strong stocks.
Some of the English rose growers use the Manetti stock, (which is the best kind known;) but they ask more for their plants, which are not generally as large or as well grown as those we get from France. Besides, the change from the cool, moist climate of England to our hot and dry one often produces a deleterious effect.
The risk of loss by sea voyage is one great drawback in importing roses; for it often occurs* that we sustain a loss of one-half, either by their becoming too dry or too damp. If you have a package of choice varieties, the rats will be pretty sure to get at them and make sad havoc. We must meet these losses with as good grace as possible, for we can get no insurance against rats or long voyages.
The relative cost of imported roses and those grown here is worthy of our attention.
First-class, large, two-year-old plants, budded on the Manetti stock that has been twice transplanted, can be bought here for two hundred dollars per one thousand. Now let us see what it costs to import the same number from Angers, in France, which is supposed to be the Rochester of Europe.
1,000 plants cost ...............
2 boxes, and packing........................
Freight from Angers to Havre, including insurance,
Freight from Havre to New York, per steamer, on 2 boxes, of one ton each,........
Custom-house charge, -......
This is about the average cost, one year with another.
We have but about six cents difference in the cost of each, and this in favor of the imported plants. But who will say that the plants grown here, if of equal size, are not worth far more than the difference in price, to say nothing of the risk in importing them? Our experience leads us to believe that the plants grown here are worth double'those imported.
This is no hasty conclusion, but one we have arrived at by dealing in both kinds for the last ten years. Wo have found that the imported plants did not give satisfaction to our customers, while those that were grown in this country have; and the great question with all nurserymen should be, how best to please their patrons.
[It is undoubtedly true that our nurserymen depend mainly on the foreign supply for their stock. Many believe they can import roses cheaper than they can propagate them, and are governed chiefly by this consideration; but Mr. Fuller's figures would seem to show that the saving is not very great, after all. There are comparatively few successful rose propagators among us; not alone because the rose is difficult to propagate from cuttings, but because they will not take the trouble necessary to insure success. We have no doubt at all that, on the whole, roses grown hero are more durable and give more satisfaction than those imported, especially those on their own roots. Unlike Mr. Fuller, we believe roses on their own roots are in most respects to be preferred to those budded. A few feeble growers may be better budded, and this may be what Mr. F. means. But, at all events, let the domestic trade be encouraged. - Ed].