Life: Devoted to the Flower Garden and the Home, 1: 26-27 (Feb 16, 1903)
Hybrid Perpetual Roses
Georgia Torrey Drennan
THE greatest number of so-called Hybrid Perpetual Roses bloom only in spring or early summer. A considerable number bloom again in autumn. From the habit of blooming again, the French call them Hybrid Remontants. The term very nearly accords with our word re-mount, meaning to re-bloom. Probably remontant is more nearly correct than perpetual. Few flowers of any class are more showy, and none have been, and are, more truly admired than Hybrid Perpetual Roses. They were the favorites of the flower garden given the high sounding names of the brave days of old. Giant of Battles, Lion of Combat, Magna Charta, Glory of France, Lord Ragland, General Washington and General Jacqueminot bloomed in chivalrous combat with Cloth of Gold, Triumph of Luxemburg, Baltimore Belle and Mary of Burgundy. Undoubtedly the most popular rose of the class has been Gen. Jacqueminot. The color of this rose is unrivaled, and had it really claims to ever-blooming qualities its popularity would be unbounded. Unfortunately, it blooms only in spring, with now and then a few fall flowers. There is, though, one claim to favoritism that compensates for the lack of ever-blooming, and that is its capacity for winter blooming. Jacqueminot forces as readily as an Easter Lily. The florists manipulate it with great freedom, in the greenhouse, and striking indeed are the velvety, rich red Jacqueminot buds in contrast to wintry surroundings of snow, ice, and bare and leafless trees. We dismiss this favorite from our present list of roses with a sigh of regret that it is not an ever-bloomer.
Roses are coming, every year, to be more strictly classed. Time was that even the classes were mixed. This is all changed now. Not only are Hybrid Perpetuals, Hybrid Teas, Noisettes, Teas, Bourbons, Polyanthas, Mosses, Sweet Briers and Ramblers distinctly classed, but specimens of each species, individual roses, are accurately accorded the qualities that distinguish one from the other.
The one error to be regretted, because committed by so many dealers who are relied upon as guides in all that pertains to rose culture, is that of classing numbers of roses under the head of ever-bloomers that only bloom in spring and early summer, or, at best, again in autumn.
The number of reliable ever-bloomers among Hybrid Perpetuals is limited to a few. Happily, however, there are some superb sorts that bloom as constantly as the Tea roses. Several of them are among the most famous roses of the world.
This quality of continuous blooming is a matter of special recommendation, for these handsome roses are iron-clad in constitution. They are well adapted to out-door culture in the far north or extreme south. They can be relied upon to bloom freely in either extreme of latitude, as beautiful in one as in the other. Hybrid Perpetuals bloom early and late, rivaling the other roses in ever-blooming properties and far excelling them in endurance. Do not expect the Remontants to be clothed in the exquisite porcelain tints and fine texture of the fragrant Tea roses. Amateurs are the rose-growers we are now advising with. Every hint here given is based on long years of amateur rose-culture.
Several of the old favorites are representatives of their class. They have filled posts of honor in the most famous public gardens of Europe and America. For amateurs and professionals, far and near, they have triumphed on thousands of blooming fields of summer. What though new and handsome varieties have been added to the lists, these old leaders have furnished the stock from which the hybrids have been propagated. For instance, Pius IX was famous in the garden of the Vatican, in Rome, forty years ago. It is rich red in color, large and well formed. Double to the heart, every bright red rose that unfolds, as a rule, will be perfect. Subject to no diseases, Pius IX is as hardy as an oak, and as strictly an ever-bloomer as the best Tea rose in existence. It is a tall-growing, rampant bush with very thorny branches. Every strong, upright branch bears a full cluster of buds and blooms. The more they are cut the more and the better they bloom. It is not a delicate rose in construction, and its free and hardy nature causes it to preempt too much territory unless the pruning shears are freely used. The height, and luxuriant foliage of Pius IX, with its bold, conspicuous roses, make it a grand centrepiece for a rose bed. It is equally as well adapted to the background of a border of roses. Isolated specimens will fill up, and richly adorn any part of a garden suited for a large and showy piece of shrubbery. Covered with large, bright red roses every day of the long hot summers, when all other plants seem to languish and fail of blooms, little wonder the pontificial name has been conferred upon this rose, which for its pretensions is a masterpiece.
Hard upon Pius IX comes Giant of Battles, rich crimson, of velvety texture, and every way as fine a rose as ever made a garden gay. It is rather dwarf in the height of the bush, but exceedingly well clothed in dark, shining green foliage, and a sturdy, healthy rose. The roses are queenly, and from early spring till late autumn are freely produced. Giant of Battles is a very long-lived rose. One fine bush I am cognizant of is blooming as freely and as handsomely this autumn of 1902 as that one in 1870 when it was the most admired young rose of the garden.
Madame Moreau and Madame Charles Wood are close seconds to the very best roses of their class. Madame Moreau grows to the height of Giant of Battles, is very thorny and stiff of stems, with rich, dark red, globular roses in clusters of from three to five. It is an incessant bloomer and very hardy. Madame Charles Wood is dwarf. It is unsurpassed for bordering a rose bed, as its naturally low growth saves the trouble of pruning to keep it low enough for the edge of bed or border. The flowers of Madame Charles Wood are gigantic. Many times they will be as large around as the saucer of a teacup. The shade of red is lighter and brighter than either of the foregoing, and the shape of the roses entirely different, in that they are double, broad and flat. The bright red surface, or face, of each superb rose, turned upward, makes a magnificent display from spring to fall. Madame Charles Wood roots so readily from cuttings in the warmer climates borders may be formed of them, in fall or winter, that will bloom as freely the following season as if rooted plants had been set around the bed.
Red is the predominating color, but there are some regal pink varieties, bright rose, peach-blow, shell-pink and blush, as well as pure white, but no yellows are among the Hybrid Perpetuals.
The pure white varieties are as hardy as the reds, and as constant bloomers as the best of the Tea roses. Mabel Morisson is the fair daughter of the peerless Baroness de Rothschild, and well worthy the distinguished parentage. It is a fine, crepy texture, and bridal white. The buds are lovely, and when there are full-blown roses and half-open buds on the terminus of the branches, a ready-made bouquet of long-stemmed roses may be cut any summer day. The ready-made bouquet is because of the beautiful way the foliage grows, up and around the clustered flowers, furnishing the requisite foil and setting of soft, velvety green. The more flowers are cut the more Mabel Morisson blooms.
Perle des Blanches is another snow-white Hybrid Perpetual that is an incessant bloomer. It is as hardy and free in all latitudes as a lilac or hawthorn. No garden should be without the Perle des Blanches, and for cemeteries it is one of the most beautiful of all flowers, with its white, white roses, ever in bloom.
South of the Ohio and Potomac rivers, Hybrid Perpetuals require no protection. In the gardens of Quebec and Toronto they still are hardy, but a heavy top dressing of rich fertilizers, from barnyard or stable, is an advantage. Fall is the time to apply this warm overcoat to the roses. Worked into the soil in spring, it will be mellow and rich, and quite sufficient until fall comes again.
All Hybrid Perpetuals are benefited by pruning. Cut them down to within a few buds from the roots, and the new growth will rush forward in spring, red with the elixir of the very life-blood of the rose, then bronze, and finally rich, dark green. After the foliage comes the grand outburst of queenly roses. Cutting back the branches as the roses fade is a decided advantage, all along through the season, particularly in August, which insures the fine new growth that produces the superb roses of Indian summer. Not the least of the factors in producing strong, vigorous plants is an abundance of the richest manure obtainable,—that from the cow stables is usually preferred.