The Cottage Gardener 7: 162-164 (Dec 11, 1851)
CLIMBING ROSES
Donald Beaton

BOURSAULT ROSES.—This is a very small group, all climbers, and all suitable for weeping standards, but not well adapted for festoons. Crimson Boursault, or Amadis, is the best of them, and when in perfection in June is one of the finest dark Roses known. The next best is Drummond's Thornless, as it was first called, but now they have given it a Latin name—Inermis. It is a reddish flower, and a good grower, and so is Gracilis, a pink Boursault, and the last of them that is worth growing; indeed, were it not for giving a little more colour to so many white ones of the same style of growth, I would be content with one kind, the crimson. I tried to cross the Crimson Boursault in 1846, 47, and 48, a few flowers each year, but I did not get a single seed. The season was too hot in 1846, and the blossoms dropped prematurely; but under more favourable circumstances I failed also, and I do not recollect having ever seen ripe seeds on it; still l must not give a decided opinion on it, as a breeder, from so slight an acquaintance. Can any kind reader help me from his own experience? We have not another Rose from which it would be more desirable to obtain cross seedlings. I am almost sure that it ought to be pruned before hard frost sets in, when it is grown in good rich soil, because it keeps on growing very late, and the unripe wood is so soft that it seldom escapes from injury by frost. It is not a very good one to bud others on, from this liability to get frost-bitten. It is the only Boursault worth a south wall.

AYRSHIRE ROSES.—Out of a full collection of these, planted on a very indifferent soil thirteen years next spring, Rose Angle is now the beet and healthiest of them; Ruga is much stronger in the old wood than Angle, but the young wood is not so healthy, nor does it bloom so well. Splendens and Bennet's Seedling are the best bloomers. There have been a great number of seedlings raised from this section by different growers, but they were too much alike, and too close to their parent stock, to make a distinct show; and, like the Scarlet Geraniums, one may meet with a seedling climbing Rose, which is much praised in one place, and much condemned in the next place you call at. The Ayrshire Queen is the best coloured and most distinct Rose in this group; it is a dark purple or crimson Rose, and makes a very beautiful standard with its long slender branches hanging down on all sides; it is also well suited for festooning, and would give a good relief to a collection of the light-coloured evergreen Roses. besides agreeing with them in habit. I never attempted to get cross seedlings from this rose; but it is one of great promise, and we want more variety of colours in all the sections of climbing Roses. Out of many seedlings which grow much after the manner of the Ayrshires, Madame d'Arblay, nearly a pure white, and Sir John Sebright, a red flower, are the two best and most distinct they may also be used in festoons, or worked for weeping standards.

This finishes my list of very hardy climbing Roses. The whole of them will grow on any soil, however poor, and they would flourish on heavy wet clay, where other Roses could hardly exist. Their habit is so wild arid briar-like, that they would soon stamp the character of any rough piece of ground which one wished to devote to the growth of such plants as are not fit to be admitted into the regular shrubbery borders of the present day. For the sake of distinction, we gardeners call such places The Wilderness, and in large places the wilderness comes in very useful by way of contrast to the more dressed parts, besides the opportunity it affords us to prove seedlings of hardy plants from different parts of the world, which do not appear to be worthy of more special treatment. Nothing comes amiss for "The Wilderness;" it is the true situation for all the Scotch Roses, for the yellow Persian and Austrian Roses, and for the Sweet-briars

The Musk Roses should also be planted in the wilderness. They say Musk Roses smell of Musk, but I could never prove that; they blossom in the autumn, however, and keep green to Christmas or longer, and on that account are as useful as any of the Ayrshires. The old white single Musk Rose never fails to blossom in very large clusters in the autumn, but one seldom sees it now-a-days; yet it would be worth while to try experiments with it and some of the Noisettes, with which it is nearly akin, and also with Sir John Sebright and the Ayrshire Queen, to see if we could get mere varieties of these sorts to bloom in the autumn, if only for the wilderness.

We shall never be able to excel the French growers in raising the finer description of Roses, but our hardy climbers are still within our reach, and our climate seems more favourable for experiments among them than that of the continent, and it seems now a settled question, that climate has much to do in ruling the experiments of the cross-breeder, as Dr. Herbert asserted long since from his own experience in rearing seedling bulbs, more particularly those from the Gladioli. When he failed to produce a scarlet-flowering seedling of Gladiolus by the pollen of a variety, removed two degrees from the original species, the species itself not being scarlet, but the variety nearly so, he accounted for his failure on one of two causes—either "the disposition of the perianth (the flower) to follow preferably the type of the male," or the influence "of our climate to produce the less-brilliantly coloured varieties of plants which are derived from warmer latitudes." The first of these surmises seems to be perfectly proved in the instance of the florist's pelargoniums. All their industry and ingenuity in crossing varieties have, hitherto, failed them to produce a true scarlet seedling, because, as it would appear, the varieties they work with have not come down from a scarlet type. The dark blotches in the upper petals of nine-tenths of their seedlings, were brought in by Reniforme, and although it might seem a triumph to have got rid of these blotches or dark spots, as in Rising-sun and Sun-rise, &c., they are still groping in the dark for a scarlet in that strain, and before they shall ever obtain it they must go back forty or fifty years, and begin afresh with Fulgidum and Sanguineum; but before they will succeed in producing this race, with flowers as large as those of their present magnum bonums, we shall have hybrid perpetual evergreen climbing Roses, with flowers as large as Barron Prevost, and may be as high-coloured as Geant des Batailles itself, if there is any truth in the second assertion respecting the suitability of our climate, though that is not favourable to the production of high colours among plants from a warmer climate; it may be otherwise with Ayrshires and Dundee Ramblers, whose types are indigenous to high northern climes. The Ayrshire Queen and Sir John Sebright originated, I believe, with Mr. Rivers. If he could thus manage, with the air all round his nursery grounds loaded with mixed pollen, what might a private amateur not expect if he were to go earnestly to cross our best climbing Roses, or, if he were not ambitious about high colours, let him take courage from Madame d'Arblay, the finest and most luxuriant seedling yet reared among the White varieties. There were some heart-burnings about the origin of this fine climber, and not without abundant reasons, seeing that it was passed off as a French seedling, and saddled with a French name, although raised by a worthy friend of mine, Mr. Wells, lately of Red Leaf, in Kent, and as good a Rose grower as any Frenchman that ever lived.

Another way by which all these hardy climbers would look exceedingly well is, to have them planted against single trees, or against trees in front of a group, or in front of a plantation, or indeed against any trees that were not too much in the shade, for no Roses like to be altogether in the shade; then to train or tie them to the stems, and let them ramble all over the branches, without giving them the least pruning. I have seen some of them tried this way and they looked just like wildings, and, if possible, more beautiful than in festoons. Sometimes they would make shoots from ten to fifteen feet long in one season, and hang down perpendicularly, like so many strings, and next year these would be covered with flowers from top to bottom, and after that we used to carry them across the main boughs of the tree, giving them a tie here and there; and after a season or two, these would send out a second crop of weeping shoots to go through the same process, till, at last, the whole tree or trees were completely covered with them, and after that, we took no more heed of them. Now, although we know very well that these roses will grow in almost any soil, it is not very good policy to begin growing them without some preparation when the soil happens to be very poor or very stony, or a stiff clay, because a great deal of time is lost before they acquire sufficient strength to enable them to overcome all difficulties. A good wide hole, a foot or more deep, and two feet across, should be made and filled with better soil for each of them, or they might be planted two and two in such a hole; the plants should also be stronger than for better places, they should be two or three years old, at least; but very old plants, that one wished to remove to get rid of them from some better place, should never be used for this rough way of planting, because, having been once accustomed to good feeding, and having grown luxuriantly in consequence, the change to a hard, scanty food would tell against them very much indeed. For the first two or three years after planting, the ground should be kept clear of weeds, and the plants should be cut down to the ground, at least the two first seasons. Indeed, all climbers, as well as climbing roses, which do not take to the soil freely and grow away luxuriantly the second season after planting, ought to be cut close down to the ground, and that early in October.

I have often said how suitable the evergreen climbing roses were for budding other sorts on, but it is very different with the Ayrshire breeds; I have over and over again tried every one of them with other sorts, in great variety, but I did not succeed in establishing on them any, except two sorts, the Old White China and the Fulgoré, except it were on suckers, and these budded very low, near the ground; and, I believe, if it were desired, that all the free-growing hybrid perpetuals could be established on suckers of the Ayrshires. The Fulgoré, however, will flourish for years on any part of an Ayrshire rose, better than on any other stock whatever; it soon dies or gets out of order on the Dog-rose, and on that account the nurserymen have discontinued to grow it, although it is the latest and the most sweet rose we have. I do not see any advantage in growing the Old White China on any of them, unless it be that it flowers in the autumn; but sooner than let Fulgoré go out of cultivation, I would plant Bennet's Seedling on purpose to bud it with this delicious old rose, which is always more sweet the later in the season it blows. I once had it ten days before Christmas, and it was so sweet, that I might pass it off for a Cabbage rose, which it much resembles, and I should be very glad to hear that THE COTTAGE GARDENER was the means of saving it to the country. Many of the hybrid perpetuals are sweeter in October and November than at any other time, but there are none of them so sweet as Fulgoré, and none of them opens its flowers so late as it, except Madame Laffay.

Beaton Bibliography