Cottage Gardener 7: 175-177 (Dec. 18, 1851)
MISCELLANEOUS CLIMBING ROSES
Here I shall group together a few old and well-known climbing roses, without which no collection or selection can be considered complete. Banksians, white and yellow, require a good south wall, and rich light soil on a dry bottom. They flower—differently from all other roses—on the wood that was made the previous season; therefore, if we were to prune them in the winter, as we do other roses, we should never have any flowers from them, because the flowering wood would be carried off in the pruning. When they are young, or for the two first years after planting, they should be cut in close in October, but any time to the end of February will do; although I put much stress on having all roses, while they are young, pruned in October, they will not take much harm if the pruning is delayed two or three months longer.
I would also strongly advise to keep suckers from young roses, particularly the climbing ones, and more particularly these Banksian roses; for unless a clear, clean stem is first provided, there is no end to the confusion of their suckers. They are generally grown on their own roots, and that does very well when the soil and subsoil is favourable; but it is seldom that one meals with the real kind of soil in which they flourish to perfection, and one hears more complaints about the barrenness of Banksians than of any other roses. Whenever there are any doubts about the soil, or when they flower but sparingly, I would confidently advise to have them budded on short stocks of the Felicite perpetuelle, the best grower of all the roses known; and if six-inch cuttings of it were made, as I have oten explained, stocks from them will never make a sucker above the collar, nor from the roots either, if strong growers like the Banksians are worked on them. Laure Davoust, and all the Grevillii or Multiflora roses, should also be on stocks of the Felicite perpetuelle, all of them being too tender in the roots for nine-tenths of our gardens.
For a long time it was the custom with many amateurs to prune Banksian roses at the same time as the rest of their stock, and of course they got no bloom worth speaking of; but now every one knows that the right time of pruning is just after the flowers are over, either by the end of May or early in June; also that very strong shoots ought to be stopped before they are a foot long, as gross wood of them seldom produces much bloom; and every bit of new growth after the middle or end of August should be cut right out at the last looking over in the autumn. The nurserymen have three or four more kinds of Banksians, but I can say nothing about them, having never seen a leaf of them. Any one, however, who has a healthy plant of either the white or yellow, might very easily prove these newer ones by getting a small plant of each, and budding from them on some of the more healthy shoots of the old ones, and taking the precaution to bud towards the extremity of an old branch, and not pruning the new kind till it flowers.
Grevillii Roses.—These are called Multiflora in books. There are only two of them worth growing—the Scarlet Greville and the Seven Sisters. Of the two we prefer the Sisters. When it does well it is a very pretty rose indeed, but it requires a good, warm, dry autumn to bring it out well, and to ripen the wood. I have tried it more than once as a pillar rose, but never succeeded well with it: it must have a south wall to have it in perfection. The flowers come in large bunches, and after a time, as they go on fading, they assume so many tints, that some one counted seven distinct shades in one bunch, and called it the Seven Sisters rose on that account.
Laure Davoust, a most beautiful rose, is now classed with the Multifloras, but it has more of the blood of a hardy Noisette. Of all the climbing roses Laure Davoust is my own peculiar favourite; for many years one of it in the rosary at Shrubland, trained against an iron arch, used to be the most beautiful rose I ever saw, but the hard winter and spring two years ago almost killed it; and I am quite sure we must have it budded on one of the evergreen climbers before we make sure of it against such mishaps.
There is another class of climbing roses, called Prairie roses in America; but, like the old Black [Blush?] Noisette of American origin, they must go through some generations of special crossing before we can do much with them. The two best of them are the Pride of Washington, and Queen of the Prairies; both require a wall.
Macartney Roses.—The old double white Macartney, or Cigar rose, as we call it in the country, is the strongest and most evergreen rose we have. It grows to an enormous size where the soil suits it. My predecessor at Shrubland Perk planted a hill selection of all the climb. ing roses, and in thirteen years the Cigar rose has attained to double the strength of any one of them. The border for it is only thirty inches wide, and the depth nearly too feet, all cut out of the solid chalk; the length is considerable, and several other climbing roses are planted all along. The plants are trained against a sloping bank, such as I have more than once strongly recommended; the slope of the bank is about eight or nine feet, and on the top of it is a low wall or open ornamental stone work, forming one side of a terrace. When it rains, the whole that falls on the stone work, and on the slope, must glide down into the narrow border; and one might think that a few hours' rain would flood it, and render it useless for any gardening purpose. Not so, however; for I firmly believe that if it were to rain from December to October, the whole would pass away as fast as it entered—the chalk under it, and on both sides, being like an open sieve. I have stated all this in order to show that the Cigar rose, which has outstripped all others in strength, does so under peculiar circumstances.
Of all the roses, with the single exception of Microphylla, the Macartney has the most beautiful leaves. They are as glossy as the back of a raven, and they keep longer green than those of any other rose, yet I fear to recommend the plant to young beginners, for whom my notes are chiefly directed. It blooms in myriads, and down to the end of October, but not one out of ten thousand of them ever opens properly. The flowers are pure white, and as double as they can be, and, if they would but open freely, the Macartney would be the best of all roses to plant against the south front of a house. I do not remember to have ever seen a fly on it, and that is a very high recommendation for any plant we desire to have trained against a house. The Glycine sinensis, the Passion-flowers, Tacsonias, and Chimonanths, are the only other plants suitable for training against our dwellings, which occur to me at present, which are always free from insects. The Jasmines are generally as clean, but if they get stunted from want of water, or from very poor soil, the fly will take to them directly. When we shall get into the right way of using glass economically for different purposes in the garden—that is, without the Tom-foolery of patent laws—we shall have a glass front, or a glass roof, to bring out the beauties and sweetness of our Tea-scented roses, and tender climbing ones, and then none of them will pay us more freely than this Macartney or Cigar rose; and notwithstanding our aversion to the nasty small of tobacco, I never heard even a lady say, that the smell of a cigar was disagreeable on a frosty day, if the smoker was a good way off, and that is exactly the smell of this rose. Who can say, if we were to get it to open well under a glass case, and dry the leaves as we do those of the sweet roses, that they would not come in for smoking instead of the best Havannahs, at any rate, I should consider the project a better subject for a patent than glass lights, alias glass walls!
There is a single white Macartney which, on a fine season, produces ripe pollen, and few roses promise better to cross, owing to its beautiful foliage, and flowering so late. For any other purpose the single one is not worth growing. Maria Leonida is a fine seedling of the Macartney, with white flowers, not quite so double as those of the Cigar rose, but they open quite freely, and the plant can be recommended for the sake of variety. It is, if any thing, less hardy than the old double one, and it does not attain one-fourth of its size or strength, at least in ten or a dozen years. It is well suited for planting against the south side of a low wall or sloping bank.
Rosa Microphylla, or the small-leaved rose, seems to have got almost out of cultivation, and that because we do not understand the right way of managing it. Its beautiful, small, shining leaves are the prettiest of all the roses, and the fly will not touch it. The flowers are as beautiful as any rose can be—a reddish pink, with lighter bottoms, and, when well managed, it blooms most profusely, and late in the autumn. I once heard an anecdote about one of our best rose-growers having seen a splendid plant of it in full bloom, against a wall at a little distance, and he mistook it for some new shrub, quite different from a rose. I saw the same plant in the dead of winter, without a leaf, and newly pruned, and I was as much at fault as the great rose-grower, although I had examined the rose with a determination to make out what it could be. That plant is in Suffolk, and is the only one of the sort I ever saw treated in the right way. If betting were respectable, I would lay a crown that, if Mr. Errington himself saw this plant next February, at a short distance, he would take it to be a trained mulberry, for that is the nearest tree that I can compare it to. It covered eighteen feet of an eight-feet-high wall, and was trained fan-fashion, the main branches being about ten inches apart. The rough old bark was peeled off every winter, and the spurs were very closely pruned. These spurs were as thickly set along the branches as I ever saw on an old-fashioned pear tree. I was told that every tuft of spurs produced from five to twelve flowering shoots every summer, and when the whole were in bloom it must have been a "sight" to see them. Now here is a much-neglected rose, although I am quite sure it might be made one of the best plants to train against the south front of a house. South-east or south-west would also be equally eligible for it. I have often wished to recommend it to those of our correspondents who ask for fit subjects to train under a south veranda, but without a full description of what has been already done with it I knew too well that if our friends were to ask for it in the out-lying nurseries, and say what they intended to do with it, they would be pooh-poohed out of countenance, because the plant has seldom been done justice to; but now that it has received the weight of THE COTTAGE GARDENER in its favour, I should not be surprised to hear that every saleable plant of it was cleared out of the nurseries next spring, for I have had ample opportunities to learn that every good thing which the different writers in these pages recommend on their own responsibility, finds a ready sale. Look at the stimulus which Mr. Appleby's papers on priced Orchids have already done to that delightful family. Look also at our lists of florist's flowers, and say if there is one buyer in a hundred who ventures to go to market without first taking a leaf out of our book? Well! but look also at the responsibility which all this entails on every one of us, and then say if it be such an easy matter, after all, to run up a long list of names on the spur of the moment—and think of this next time you write.