The Cottage Gardener 5: 381-382 (Mar 20, 1851)
Donald Beaton

After the fancy geraniums, the next greatest improvement and novelty, in many cases, is the use of Roses having decided colours; each kind in a bed by itself; or a red or purplish kind, with a border all round of white roses. Of all the white or light-coloured roses, either for an edging or for a whole bed, there is none so good as the Old White China, which, as far as I know, has no other name; it has not been mentioned in rose catalogues for many years, unless it be under some strange name which I do not recognise. It is one of the earliest to open in May, and the last of all of them to fall before the host in November; it never rests through the season, and it is the longest to live of all the dwarf roses I know. There are about a score of plants of it in the flower-garden here, which have been in the same bed for the last fifteen years, and only taken up twice during the time, in order to renew the bed, and to cut in the large roots and strong branches. As we do not require these rose beds to be in bloom early in the summer, the plants are closely pruned towards the end of April; but they answer very well to be cut in March, and will be in bloom three weeks sooner if pruned so early. Even then a cold late spring does not hurt them, but only keeps them back so much. It is only when one is tempted by an early fine season, such as we experienced last February, to cut them before March, that late spring frosts hurt the tender growths; but let us say the first week in April is a good time to prune all the China and dwarf Bourbon roses in flower-beds; and that also is a very good time to plant a bed of them for the first time, provided you have strong two-year old plants for the purpose; but, if the plants are younger and small, the end of April and the early part of May is a better time to turn them out.

The next best white rose for an outside row is Aimee Vibert, a dwarf Noisette rose, which is always in bloom in thick clusters; and the best white flower among all the China breed of roses is Clara Sylvain, a true dwarf China. The flowers of this are as large as those of the old white China, much better shaped, and also more scented; but the plants are not so vigorous or so hardy. I had them twice cut down to the ground by the frost, when the old white stood unhurt.

No one seems to like Gloire de Rosamene for a bed; but by a particular management it makes a splendid bedder, indeed the very richest of all the roses. For bedding, this rose should be treated as a biennial, and no more; that is, to put in cuttings of it every year in April (they will root anywhere, if you stick them firm in the ground), and to plant them in the flower-bed next March, or whenever the bed is ready for them in the spring. Then, from the first of June to the end of August, every shoot which looks very strong, and is likely to run away with the sap, as gardeners say, must be stopped when it is six inches long. In this way all the shoots over a whole bed need not differ much in strength, and they will not stop from flowering in July or August, as this rose is apt to do when older plants are used. After the beds have done flowering in December, the plants must be disposed of, for all the gardeners in the country could not make a regular bed of them the second season, if the soil was ever so poor, and I do not think there is a rose known that will do better in the very poorest soil than this; and it would grow in rotten dung without any soil at all; it is no matter, therefore, for this rose where you plant it as a biennial. On thin sandy soil the plants should stand at six inches apart every way, or even thicker, and nine inches between plant and plant will not be too thick for a good bed of the richest soil, that is on the understanding that the same plants are only to flower one year on the same bed. A border of the old white China, planted round a bed of Gloire de Rosamene, thus managed, is the very best combination of rose colours I know of; and in a mild autumn both will go on flowering down to the end of November, and I have had them in good bud for bouquets in Christmas week.

One would require to be intimately acquainted with the habits of different roses on the same soil, before he could plant a mixed bed of very distinct kinds. It is for this very cause that I have so often backed out of questions which have been sent, asking us to name so many kinds for one bed. What my experience, or that of any one else, would show on a particular soil, might very easily lead a third party quite wrong in a different locality, but with the single exception of the Gloire de Rosamene, this does not hold good with the China breed of dwarf ones. For the bedding purpose, I look on the Gloire de Rosamene as a true China, although they call it a Bourbon in the catalogues. Once we get among the true Bourbons, we enter on the difficulty of making good mixtures for one bed.

Mrs. Bosanquet and Barclayana are two old light-coloured Chinas, but not pure white, well adapted for beds, or for edgings to the dark red ones, as they are constant bloomers, and grow without making rambling shoots. Barclayana has not been in the catalogues for many years, but many gardeners prefer it to newer ones for beds. I had it first from Chatsworth, where it was a great favourite, and I believe is so still. These are certainly the cream of the white bedding roses of this class.

Among the red ones there is a great variety for choice, and the Old dark red China, which is seen all over the country trained up against the front of cottages, makes as good a bed as any on the list; and Henry the Fifth is the best to mix with it, plant for plant, as they grow exactly alike. The latter is a shade more red, and has a light centre when the flower is full open, and sometimes a light stripe here and there: all this with the dark-red of the old one has a fine effect in a bed. Madam Breon is one of the best rose-coloured Chinas for cut blooms, and some are fond of it for a bedder, but with me the flowers seem too heavy for the stalks, so that it hangs down too much to show to the best advantage, but on strong soil I should think it would make a fine bed. Archduke Charles, Cramoisie Superieure, Prince Charles, and Abbe Mioland, have four shades of red crimson which assist each other very much in a bed, and I would rather have the four mixed than any of them by themselves in a bed; but the four have the bad habit of making one or two strong shoots from the bottom if they have their own way. This should never be allowed in a bed of China roses, otherwise the symmetry of the bed is all gone. Stop the strong shoots when they are under four inches, so as to keep them close and bushy to the ground, as they never look rich or well managed if you can push a walking stick into any part of the bed without touching a shoot. Eugene Beauharnois and Belle de Florence are two which answer pretty well together, they are a shade lighter than the reds and crimsons. For a very small bed of one sort Fabier is unquestionably the best; it might be called the little grandson of Gloire de Rosamene without inheriting its manner of making strong shoots here and there. Plants of Fabier, three or four years old, would make a good mixture with biennial Gloire de Rosamene. Both of them have good light centres, and Fabier is more double, with a well-marked stripe in the petal. Out of the above a nice shaded bed might be formed, and these shaded beds, of whatever kinds of flowers, look best in circles. Then three plants of the strongest and darkest should stand in the middle, say of Cramoisie Superieure; after that two rows of Abbe Mioland, or Prince Charles, for a lighter shade, followed by one row of Belle de Florence, and another of Eugene Beauharnois, then Mrs. Bosanquet; the outside row to be either Aimee Vibert, or the Old White China. If of the latter, the plants to be quite young, as it is a strong grower.

The best way to prove Roses, Geraniums, Verbenas, &c, for shading, is to begin by planting one of each along a border by the side of a walk, the border to be of uniform richness throughout; to regulate the growth by stopping strong shoots; training others, either down or upwards, and then to watch their habits, and colours, and shades, both when they first open their flowers and as they fade away, and to mark all peculiarities and memorandums about them, on the spot, in the garden-book. One or two seasons at this kind of gardening would teach more than all the writing and reading of a whole year, for there is hardly a family of plants but shows something different in one place which is never seen in another. Besides, to learn the real art of thinking for oneself is one of the greatest secrets among the best gardeners, and without that, in some degree, one may bo led by the nose for a whole lifetime, and not be much the wiser after all.

Beaton Bibliography