of Horticulture Cottage Gardener, and Country Gentleman, n.s. 13(334): 134 (Aug
ESTIMATE OF ROSES
I do not know whether your correspondent Mr. Flitton would number me amongst the enthusiastic novelty-seekers; but as I was the first, either amateur or nurseryman, who had what I must still esteem the honour of an introduction to Marechal Niel, I should like to say a few words on your correspondent's objections. When I saw it with Monsieur Eugene Verdier at Paris I was particularly pleased with it, but even then my opinion of it was a qualified one. I said, "I am quite persuaded, if it open as well with us as it does in France, that it will be quite an acquisition;" and when it was figured I said, "There are one or two points which make us hesitate about it. It is said by M. Verdier to have been raised in the South of France, and consequently there must be some doubt as to the certainty of its opening well in England, for Boule d'Or, which we have seen in perfection from the neighbourhood of Paris, will not, without a good deal of coaxing, display its beauties with us; and then it is unquestionably in foliage and form of flower very like Isabella Gray, and therefore, we fear, is likely to partake of the defects of that flower." In all this I have not indulged in extravagant praise; and when I saw it pronounced in a contemporary as perfectly hardy, and knew that one grower of it had lost 2000 and another 1500, I could not but smile at the notion. Yet I cannot agree with your correspondent altogether. A shy flowerer I fear it will be; but I saw this time last year at Mr. Keynes's at Salisbury row after row of it, and every one of the plants loaded with flowers. On the Briar I fear it will not do very well; but Mr. Hedge, of Colchester, has succeeded in flowering it most profusely when budded on the Banksian Rose; and shy flowerer though it be, a bloom of it is invaluable. I have always contended it was a Noisette and not a Tea; so, I think, are Gloire de Dijon and Celine Forestier.
As to going to Rose shows to see which are the good Roses being a mistake, "cela dépend." Some persons wish to have one kind of Rose, some another; some grow them for the purpose of making a blaze in their garden, and others for the sake of cutting choice blooms to put in their rooms. To see which are the finest Roses there is no place better than a flower show; but to see which are the most vigorous, most showy, and most ornamental, you must go to a Rose-grower's, or ask some amateur who knows what Roses are.
Are we to take Mr. Flitton's own recommendations? Let us see. He will pardon me, I am sure; but the critic lays himself open to criticism. In dark Roses he selects seven. Of four of these there can be no doubt. Charles Lefebvre, Lord Clyde, Lord Macaulay, and Madame Victor Verdier are first-rate Roses; but I do not agree with him that the other three ought to be at the top of the list. Eugene Appert is no doubt brilliant in colour, but it is ragged; Due de Wellington is a splendid scarlet flower, but not quite full enough; and Fisher Holmes has the same fault. Then he has omitted Pierre Notting, Dr. Andry, Maurice Bernardin, Duc de Rohan, and Baron Adolphe de Rothschild, all of which are worthy of a place alongside the first four, and I think far superior to the other three flowers. He gives us eight rose-coloured varieties, and here again I take exception. I have no objection to Beauty of Waltham, Comtesse de Chabrillant, Jules Margottin, and John Hopper; but I think Anna de Diesbach a flaunting dame, Colonel de Rougemont a platter-face and a delicate grower, Victor Verdier coarse, and Madame Thérèse Levet I do not know. But why has he omitted such Roses as Louise Peyronny, Madame Boll, Madame Clemence Joigneaux, Marguerite de St. Amand, and old William Griffiths—all of them, I feel sure, superior to those I have objected to? I have said nothing of any of the new Roses, although I fancy such flowers as Alfred Colomb, Abel Grand, Josephine Beauharnais, and Marguerite Dombrain will take a good place. Nor have I enumerated all that I consider good Roses; but have endeavoured to show that even in what was meant to be a very select list, according to my view of matters great blunders had been made. But then tastes vary. I have seen legs of pork weighing some 30 lbs. selected by soldiers here to be roasted for a treat for Christmas. I envied their digestion, but not their taste. So some people think size and display everything, and correctness of form nothing.
At the same time I think there is much in that which I have no doubt suggested Mr. Flitton's remarks—the great quantity of rubbish and inferior varieties that are every year palmed off on us as improvements—Roses of which, as my friend Mr. Radclyffe says, "there are novelties without anything new, varieties without variations, and distinct only by being distinctly worse than the older varieties." And yet what is to be done? Novelty has ever a charm to all lovers of flowers, and an excessive caution may lead to our rejecting many a valuable addition to our gardens; while to be able to send out a new Rose which shall sell at 25f. each is a piece of temptation that French flesh and blood can hardly resist, although I have seen some of the Rose-growers who have resisted the temptation, and cut up and destroyed hundreds of plants which they had regarded as safe to bring them in a goodly sum. I am afraid we must still buy our experience, and sometimes rather dearly; but if we were to consider more the character of the persons who raise and let out the Roses we should not be so often bitten.—D., Deal.