The Cottage Gardener 212-213 (Jan 1, 1852)

PILLAR ROSES
Donald Beaton

How hard and harsh it seems to have to deal unkindly with any one, even were he not worthy of our confidence; and how much more, therefore, must it be when the parties are old friends and favourites, with whom we have often enjoyed the socialities of private life, sweetening our path among the thorns and briars of a busy world. Yet I fear it must be so in the instance of pillar roses. Not one of those charming ones mentioned at the end of my last letter, or of many others like them, from the other sections of summer roses which are now dancing before the mind's eye, would I recommend to the notice of the young amateurs, while the veterans and devotees in the same walk may do, and no doubt will do, just as they please, for aught that I can say or write. No! although I was lately among the veterans, and something of a devotee besides, I am now the youngest amateur among you all; and, without any wish to cast off old friends, I shall have nothing to do with summer roses on pillars. Hybrid perpetuals and Bourbons will be my choice; those I shall select from among the summer-bloomers must keep their heads a little lower, and to keep them at a proper distance I shall order two autumn, or perpetuals, to be planted right and left of every one of them.

We will begin with Mrs. Elliot, the best pillar rose among all the hybrid perpetuals—that is, on pillars seven feet high; and at the end of the third growing it ought to reach the top of the pillar, provided the border is made rich, and the soil a strong loam. After that Madame Laffay, unless we choose to have Bourbons and hybrid perpetuals planted alternately, which would be a better arrangement, on account of the difference in the leaves, and style of growth, and flowering, the Bourbons having more glossy leaves, and their flowers being more in the style of China roses.

It is well known that I prefer all the strongest of the hybrid perpetuals—those that do for pillar roses on their own roots—and the same with strong Bourbons in beds; but for pillars all my Bourbons would be budded on the Manetti rose, quite close to the ground. I must also remark, that I had some misgivings about recommending any of the Bourbons on their own roots; for although they have done better with me on their own roots, it may have been owing to the nature of the soil, and chalky dry bottom, and I have no experience of them, worth much, or any other soils, because I have not travelled much for some years, looking into other gardens; therefore I would rather cancel this part of my story, or at any rate leave it, for the present, an open question, till 1 hear and see what the great rose-growers have to say and have done about their Bourbous.

If we had white or light-coloured autumn-bloomers in variety, and strong enough for my pillars, I would arrange them so that the white ones would come in after crimson or dark ones; but we have not much variety in colour to choose from, and all the light ones are Bourbons. Acidale is the best white of them, but it is liable to be cut down by a hard frost, so that it must be protected, lmperatrice Josephine is a blush rose, of excellent habit for pillars, and Lavine d'Ost is like it in that respect, and also a blush. Madame Lacharme is a better white than either of these—indeed, the next to Acidale; but its way of growth, and flowering in large clusters, puts you too much in mind of a China rose. We must admit it, however, on account of its colour, and its excellent habit for covering a pillar. Therefore, if we mixed the two classes in one row of pillars, any of these light ones will do between Mrs. Elliot and Madame Laffay, then another light one, to be followed either by Le Grenadier or Dupetit Thouars, the two best dark Bourbons that will answer for pillars. Then Baronne Prevost, or Duchess of Sutherland, for a light rose tint, and Sidonie, another shade of pink, and a splendid rose. I believe these are the only distinct shades we can make out. Bouquet de Flora, among the Bourbons, would give a redder tint, and so would Splendens; and these two should not be planted near each other for fear of looking too much alike. Neither should Mrs. Elliot and William Jesse, although brother and sister; so that, after all, we come short of a good arrangement of colours; and even as it is, what is here suggested need not be followed, and all that I can do farther is to give the names and colours of the best sorts for pillars in each of the two sections, which, I hope, will be of some service, as the real habits of these roses are not nearly so well known as the colours; besides, having incurred the responsibility of recommending autumn-bloomers only for the ordinary size of pillars, some might suppose that any of the hybrid perpetuals would do as well as most of the Bourbons, and so get deceived after all, and call me over the coals when it is too late to help myself.

There are, however, comparatively, but few roses in each section of these perpetuals that are really fitted to be made into pillars, whereas more than two-thirds of the hybrid Chinas and hybrid Bourbons, and several among the other sections of other summer roses, are naturally better adapted for pillar roses than for any other way; and although I prefer the autumn-bloomers to all the finest summer roses for every purpose whatever, that is no reason why others should participate in this prejudice, or be deprived of their summer roses; therefore, after giving an account of my own favourite roses, I shall also name the best of the summer-bloomers for pillars.

To begin with the Hybrid Perpetuals: Mrs. Elliot is the first on the list—a large, glossy, red, rosy flower. Madame Laffay, crimson. These two cannot be improved in growth by any kind of stock whatever. Baronne Prevost, a true rose colour, and the largest of roses. Late in November this Baronne vies with Fulgore in deceiving you into the belief that the old cabbage-rose has turned perpetual, but he is not nearly so sweet as his rival. Duchess of Sutherland, a shade lighter than the Baronne, a charming rose, with a name no less so. For the south of England and Ireland, Earl Talbot would come in next, a splendid deep rosy red, but I cannot recommend it; generally, it is so double and hard in the bud that it cannot open well. This rose and Prince Albert require a New Zealand climate. If I were going there, they are the first two I would pack. Cornet, a pinky lilac, rose-colour, a very large flower, and the nearest to Fulgore in sweetness.

By the by, it would be very desirable to hear free criticism on the sweetness of autumn roses, Mr. Rivers says Riego is the sweetest of all roses, whilst I always put it down as a third-rate in that respect, and, therefore, I may be wrong about Cornet, but I could bring forward some of the first ladies in the land to back me about Fulgore, late in the autumn, for I have often made the experiment, therefore, being a strong grower, I adopt it for a good pillar rose. It is, if any thing, deeper in colour than the cabbage-rose, and it must be on its own roots, and be treated like the Gloire de Rosamene to keep it full at the bottom. That is, all the small shoots must be cut in quite close, and the strong ones be left at nearly their full length, and when the pillar is covered, we must begin to cut out gradually the three-year old wood. By attending strictly to this system, these two beautiful roses on their own roots, will last on pillars as long as any rose we have, but if we neglect their proper management, no rose is more likely to wear out sooner than they. Louis Buonaparte is a fine, large, shining flower, of a rosy colour, well suited for a pillar; with good culture and a little hard pruning let us hope its namesake will make a good French pillar too. Jacques Lafitte, a beautiful large rose-coloured flower, which was well nigh being thrown out of the lists four years ago, because, as I suppose, the stock of it was too much run upon in the propagating pits to meet a large sale. The plants turned out badly in most hands, and in mine amongst the rest. This often happens with a new dahlia. It gets a good name, and every one must have it next year, so it must be forced almost to death, and they cut, cut away at it till no virtue is left in the poor spindly things they call "strong established plants early next May." Another very great disadvantage to Jacques Lafitte was its being " let out" along with Geant des Batailles, which took the whole country's attention, to the prejudice of its less brilliant companion; but on warm, dry soils Jacques will yet become a favourite, and being a strong healthy grower, is well adapted for a pillar or for the bottom of a south rose-wall. Sidonie is another strong pillar-rose in this class, with rosy pink flowers, and William Jesse is not a shade behind it, with glossy pinkish red flowers. The Queen or La Reine is also suited for pillars; in the bud it is the most noble of all, except the Malmaison rose, but it requires a much stronger soil than Madame Laffay, and those which take after it, and the soil cannot be made too rich for it. As soon as the buds are seen, this noble rose would take a dose of rich liquid manure three times a week, and without the highest culture its full beauty is never seen. Augustine Mouchelet, a fine, crimson, well-known rose, and Madame Trudeaux another crimson, and a newer rose, are highly deserving of a pillar. The Standard of Marengo, said to be darker than either of the last two, I have not yet seen, but it bears a high character. Madame Lamoriciere, a bright pink, Chateaubriand the same; Genie de Chateaubriand, crimson, Henry the 4th, (Henri Quatre) a large rosy flower, and Caroline de Sansales, a blush rose, are all of them excellent for pillar-roses, and very likely there are others as good in this section, although I do not happen to know them, so that without the aid of the Bourbons we have enough, and to spare, to make perpetual pillars.

I believe Geant des Batailles might also be got up to a pillar size, in three or four years, in good rose soil, and if so, what a noble avenue of pillars it would make of itself. It would be quite unapproachable in all that we know of in the disposition of roses. Dupetit Thouars, from among the true Bourbons, would come the nearest to it, and after that, Tyrian Purple noisette, which, treated as a pillar-rose, has as much claim to be called a Bourbon as Gloire de Rosamene, therefore I include it as such. Julie de Fontenelle is another splendid, darkish Bourbon which no one should pass when planting pillars, and Le Grenadier is just as good. All these dark Bourbons, mixed with the rose-coloured Hybrid Perpetuals, and again interspersed with the white and blush Bourbons, must assuredly drive the summer roses from their post, and yet we have Splendens, Pierre de St. Cyr, and Madame Desprez to add to our list of rose-coloured from the Bourbons. Some people object to Splendens and Madame Desprez because their flowers come too near the colour of the old large China, so common against cottage doors all over the country, but then, there are no more constant bloomers in the catalogue, except Gloire de Rosamene, and the true Splendens is really more like the latter than any other rose, and though not very double, it is always in bloom, and attractive. There is a very common-looking rose called Splendens, in some collections, and I once had it from Bath, but I cut his head off the moment I saw it. I believe the true Splendens is now on sale in all the nurseries.

Last of all comes the very best of all the rose tribe for pillars, Gloire de Rosamene. There is not another rose in the world so constant and so useful for a gardener as this, nor better for a pillar, but it should not be planted in a row along with all, or any, I have noticed, because it is certain to throw the whole of them into the shade, except, perhaps, Geant des Batailles. If we had a broad concrete walk, as smooth as sheet glass, and as long as you can see, and sloping gently towards the south-east, or south-west, and lined on both sides with pillar-roses after this fashion, Gloire de Rosamene, ten feet apart and ten feet from the walk, then another row of Le Grenadier, a third with Dupetit Thouars, and the fourth with Geant des Batailles—no one should tread on it for two hours in the forenoon and two hours in the afternoon, but queens and maids of honour, and a good gardener, to tell them how the fairy scene was created—in the middle of the day it would dazzle your eyes too much to enjoy it.

The summer roses that are fit for pillars are too many for my space, therefore put up with the following till you hear of a better selection. Hybrid Bourbons—Chenedolle, the best of summer roses, is named after Charles Chenedolle, a great French poet, who died near Caen, on the 2nd of December, 1833; Coupe de Hebe and Charles Duval are quite as good, but not so brilliant; Las Casas, very large, and rose colour, and Paul Perras the same. Hybrid Chinas—The only reason that I can think of for keeping Hybrid Chinas and Hybrid Bourbons apart, is merely to puzzle people; that is not the point, however, but which are the best pillar roses in the latter, and here I break down, for I cannot decide between Brennus, Triomphe d'Angers, and Triomphe de la Queue, three shades of crimson. Fulgens, though not a very double rose, is brighter than any of the three. Emperor Probus I mistook last July, at the Regent's Park show, for Baronne Prevost, and that will tell its tale. It was in Mr. Lane's collection, and I think I never saw a finer specimen, and Madame Plantier is the best white of the lot La Dauphine the second best white. Among the list of the summer roses La Ville de Londres, La Ville de Bruxelles are the best rose-coloured. Princess Clementine, and Princess de Lamballe the best whites. Kean, alias Shakspere and Boula de Nanteuil are the two best dark ones. Lanei and Celina are the two best new moss roses for pillars, but the old common moss and also the Cabbage Provence the best of all roses, may be grown to pillars in good soil, and I hardly know how many more besides.

Beaton Bibliography