Roses for the Out-door Garden of the Amateur pp. 39-54 (1912)
EVERBLOOMING HYBRID REMONTANT ROSES
Georgia Torrey Drennan
ONLY a restricted number of the Hybrid Remontant class are everblooming. Remontant, applied by the French, better describes the habit of the Hybrid Perpetuals with everblooming tendencies than any corresponding word in our language. The literal meaning is to grow again, or remount. As they bloom in spring and again in autumn, they are Remontants rather than Perpetuals. Not all of the family bloom even twice a year. Many of the famous roses of the world are Hybrid Perpetuals that bloom only in spring and early summer.
The strictly everblooming species we owe primarily to the French growers. They developed the Rose des Quatre Saisons from the Damask and Provence, or Gallica, on one side, and the China, Bengal, and Tea roses on the other. Albeit they were called Roses des Quatre Saisons, they produced blooms only in spring and autumn. Repeated efforts of hybridisation with Bengal, Bourbon, and most important of all, Tea roses, resulted in extraordinary advances. Hybrid Perpetuals of indiscriminately mixed origin since the sixties and seventies are more than Remontant; they are true and constant everbloomers. These improved strains now take first rank among the finest exhibition roses, and lead all others as winter bloomers. They are also the hardiest and freest of garden roses, highly available for amateurs.
Hybridised with Teas and Bengals, they are continuous bloomers with the hardy constitutions, vigorous growth, and bold effects of the Hybrid Perpetuals. Our forebears fought many battles and won many victories for us; none more marked than the triumphs of hybridisation as shown in this group of everbloomers. For wide adaptability, North and South, for hardy endurance everywhere, and for size and brilliancy, the Everblooming Hybrid Remontants excel all roses.
The Gardener's Chronicle, of London, not long since published an interesting resume of the progress made in floriculture during the past seventy years. In regard to roses, we are reminded that when Queen Victoria was crowned, the Hybrid iPerpetuals had not merited the distinction of a separate classification from the old garden roses. The famous exhibition roses of later years of this class were not then in existence.
The history of this group, from the Baronne Provost, La Reine, and Giant of Battles type, on to the General Jacqueminot, Victor Verdier, and Jules Margottin types, ten years later, the Senator Vaisse, Charles Lefebre, Prince Camille, Duke of Edinburgh and Baroness Rothschild, Ulrich Brunner, Marshall P. Wilder, and the distinguished American Beauty family, would fill a volume which, if individual names were given, would be of great size.
All along these lines of development, some I sporadic everbloomers would astonish rose growers. Some Hybrid Perpetual, or Scotch, or Garden rose would sport some everbloomer, that, as far as known, had not been hybridised with any of the everblooming roses. Since the advent of so many large and queenly roses of wonderful beauty, strength and continuity, these heroic old sporads have been almost forgotten. But for the stubborn fact that they are among the hardiest and longest-lived roses in existence, it is probable none of them would be seen in modern gardens. Giant of Battles, that made its appearance in 1853, is one of these old Hybrid Perpetuals, as everblooming as the Tea roses. Its colour is a rich crimson-lake. The bush is dwarf, stiff and very spiny. Pius IX is another. It is large, double, full and of deep red colour. The bush is tree-like in habit. Unless cut regularly, it will preempt more space than an ordinary garden allows for one rosebush. It has the strength and hardiness of a hickory sapling, and is clothed with bold, dark green foliage, free from diseases, the constitutional strength and healthful growth overbalancing any harm to foliage or flowers done by insects. The immense red roses and large buds are in evidence from early spring to late autumn. The only Pius IX I can recall stands in an old garden where it was planted fifty years ago. It is as vigorous and prolific now as it was when planted. Then Stanwell should be remembered. It is a lovely, light pink colour and the roses are full, double and sweet scented. The bush, foliage and habit of growth are like the Scotch rose, and the Highland constitution is the same. These three old roses are profuse everbloomers that are hardy and long-lived in the coldest sections and yet defy the heat of summer even in the Panhandle of Texas, where Indian corn sometimes succumbs to heat and drought.
These instances prove the latent tendencies to bloom repeatedly of a class of roses for long considered obstinately once blooming. Crossing and complex recrossing of roses of all classes have produced the marvellous varieties which to every grace and excellence, rich velvety texture, brilliant colours, massive form, queenly proportions and very hardy constitution with luxuriant growth and elegant foliage, add the value of everblooming. The strictly reliable everbloomers among them are sufficiently numerous to form gardens of ample dimensions. Safrano, Bon Silene, Niphetos, Agrippina, Flavescens and other Tea and Bengal roses from the forties to the present day, lending themselves freely to hybridisation with the Hardy Perpetuals, have been and are prolific seedbearers and producers of Hybrid Remontants that bloom as constantly as they do, but that excel them in size, richness, brilliancy and strength; not altogether as fragrant nor delicately lovely as the Tea roses, but more showy.
General Jacqueminot, among famous roses of the world, was the most distinct and celebrated member of this family until the appearance of the American Beauty. Charitably granted the weakness of blooming but once a year, paradoxical yet true, both General Jacqueminot and American Beauty must be accorded high place among everbloomers. They simply reverse the season. Their bloom time is winter. Florists find them as constant during the winter months as the Teas during the summer. They supply the cut roses of winter under the heaviest demands of society. Under glass, they make the winter garden brilliant.
Jacqueminot is much more available for amateurs than American Beauty. It is a free and responsive garden rose, blooming in great splendour for six weeks in spring and early summer. No rose can altogether take its place. Florists depend on it for exquisitely beautiful buds in winter, and so popular has it been that one occasion is recalled when the buds sold for eighteen dollars apiece in New York City. Sweep the eye over any garden of roses in springtime bloom, and it will be easily understood why General Jacqueminot is so highly distinguished. The intense glow and radiance of the rich crimson-lake roses of velvety substance, would give it distinction among the roses of Cashmere or the blooms of Damascus. Fisher Holmes, of later origin, is called the "improved Jacqueminot." It has the same deep, rich, crimson hue, and is a larger, fuller rose, blooming a week or ten days longer in spring.
American Beauty is a rose that virtually constitutes a part of current American social history. It is the rose of roses of American origin. The daughter of our distinguished historian, Mr. George Bancroft, first saw the rose in bloom in the rose nursery of Mr. Anthony Cook, of Baltimore. She purchased the plant and had it transplanted to her father's rose garden in Washington City. Mr. Cook is very positive that it is one of nine hundred seedling roses that he raised. Mr. Field, the well-known florist of Washington City, obtained cuttings from Mr. Bancroft's plant. He propagated a large number of plants, forced the blooms, and introduced American Beauty to commerce. His new rose took Washington City by storm. "It was a proud day in Capua" when it appeared in New York City. From these great centres of wealth and fashion, the fame of American Beauty spread over the world. Since the advent of the first Tea, no rose has appealed so forcibly to the public taste, with perhaps the exceptions of La France and Marechal Niel. Neither of these famous everblooming roses, however, claim to compete with American Beauty for long-stemmed cut roses of winter. In this distinguished capacity, it has from its first appearance been without a rival.
The colour alone would make American Beauty famous. Likewise, the other characteristics would make a less beautiful rose famous. The colour is difficult to describe. The unusual shade of carmine-crimson, with a brilliant underglow, has over it a soft violet tinge, as if a film of bluish smoke hovered over the red velvety petals. It is a color copied in dyes and recognised at a glance as "American Beauty red."
Fortunes are made and lost in growing and forcing American Beauty roses. The business is many sided. Growing the roses requires skill, but something more is required to produce cut roses of maximum quality. An imperfect American Beauty is not offered for sale except at a low price among miscellaneous roses, sold on the curb or elsewhere The thousands of roses that must bloom for certain dates to meet exacting demands, to open not a day too soon nor a day too late, are without blemish—perfect. Haste or delay are alike deleterious; every condition must be guarded day and night; development from bud to full-blown rose must be as evenly balanced as if the plants were growing in the most rose-favoured soil and climate and in the most favourable season of the year under nature's own benign sunshine and dew-fall.
"A good rose grower, one that can show results and please the public," says a well-known florist, "receives as much pay as a college professor. As a rule, his knowledge has cost him about as much. By a rose grower, I mean a specialist who can produce heavy-headed American Beauties with yards-long stems. It is a business by itself. Good rose growers get from three to five thousand dollars a year and many who cater to Washington, Chicago and New York, double that sum."
There has never been an age of the world among enlightened people but winter-blooming roses were attempted. Pliny writes of stone houses with pipes of hot water similar to modern methods of heating, and of talc or lapis specularis being used instead of the glass of modern times. The winter roses of Egypt and Rome were "a novelty." With people of the present day, they are necessities—or at least, luxuries that cannot be dispensed with. Martial's "Epigram to Caesar on the Winter Rose":
"The ambitious inhabitants of the land watered by the Nile, have sent thee, O Caesar, as a novelty, the roses of winter. But the boatman of Memphis will laugh at the gardens of Pharaoh as soon as he has taken one step in thy Capital City; for the spring in its charms, and the flowers in their fragrance equal the glory of the fields of Paestum. Wherever he wanders or casts his eye, every street is brilliant with garlands of roses, and thou, O Nile, must yield to the fogs of Rome. Send us thy harvests, and we will send thee our roses."
Considering the importance of winter roses, all in all, there has never been any rose as distinguished as our American Beauty. It is the rose of fashion, pre-eminent in private and public social functions. The cost of its production is said to exceed that of anything else in floriculture. Tropical orchids approximate the cost, but the demand for them is not to be compared to the demand for roses.
To chronicle the elaborate display of American Beauty roses in decorations, when immense domes of palatial halls are solidly roofed overhead with thousands upon thousands of them while snowflakes are falling and ice glittering in the light of winter nights; dozens upon dozens at prices beyond belief used for social amenities at Christmas and New Year; quantities adorning public and private social functions in every city and community where tastes are cultivated and where wealth panders to taste, throughout the world; ship-loads being sent from one country to another, and car-loads from city to city; all these statistics, given with accuracy inclining to understatement, would fill a volume with the history of society, rather than of the roses that subserve its purposes and pageants.
Probably the largest rose-house in the world is the one recently constructed at North Wales, Pennsylvania, which covers an expanse of almost two acres. It stands close beside another greenhouse, which heretofore has held the world's record for size among rose-houses. Both these greenhouses are devoted solely to growing American Beauty roses. The great and pressing demand among society people for these always costly roses induced several prominent New York florists to cultivate the plants on a fifty-acre tract on the western outskirts of North Wales. Each one of these rose-bushes will, under forcing process, produce six or seven perfect blooms between Christmas and Easter. The life of the rose-bush forced to bloom is brief; encompassed by one year, it is necessary to keep young plants in ready condition for forcing constantly on hand. One enterprising florist decided that instead of following the precedent of having a number of greenhouses of ordinary size, he would construct a mammoth house. Contractors were very doubtful of a structure of the size he desired, built principally of glass. However, it was built, thirty-two feet high in the centre, one hundred and fifty feet wide and seven hundred feet long, with wide expanse to the south. This furnishes space for one hundred thousand rose-bushes. Forty-five thousand are arranged on beds, or "benches" as the florists call them, which, if placed in a continuous row, would be two and three-quarters miles long. Against Christmas, these rose-bushes, tall growing and supported by being tied to wires 1 stretched through the greenhouse, are superbly in bloom, and with long stems ready to cut, to the delight of the society belle and the devastation of any but the most plethoric purses. The rose-house has foundation and sides of concrete and framework of iron to hold the glass in position. Five freight cars were loaded with the glass required. Pipes for the water supply and steamheating system form an important part of the plant, for the temperature must be maintained at about sixty degrees, all winter, and a regular supply of water is needed for spraying the plants. Even the spigots enter into the count, for there are seven hundred of them. This mammoth rose-house with one hundred thousand productive rose-bushes, is for the cut roses of New York City alone.
Obviously, the American Beauty is not the rose for the people; it can never be everybody's rose. Amateurs need never attempt to grow it. Leave it to professionals, and direct the attention to the number of Hybrid Remontants well suited to general culture. The number is not meagre. Their bloom-season is from spring to close of summer. They beautify summer months and are still more rich and brilliant in autumn when American Beauty is simply a fine-looking rose-bush, barren even of incipient buds, biding its time of entrance into the greenhouse to make ready for presentation at the court of wealth and fashion.
There are too many good everblooming Hybrid Remontants to be enumerated here, but Tom Wood, Hugh Dickson, Ailesbury, Madam Masson, and Madam Charles Wood, pass in brilliant review before the mind's eye. Red is the predominant colour of this class, but the shades of crimson-lake, cherry, and deep rose are so distinct and the roses so different in construction and habit, that there never has been, nor need ever be, too much sameness. Mr. P. J. Berkmans, for over forty years the leading horticulturist and rose grower of the South and former president of the Pomological Society of America, never fails to advise amateurs to cultivate these hardy everblooming Hybrid Remontants. Passing years but add to their beauty. Pink and white, years ago, were rare, and yellow did not exist. Now, pink is frequent, and white closely follows. Mrs. John Laing, lovely shell-pink, in texture and fragrance like the Teas, but in size and robust habit a true Hybrid Remontant; Mrs. R. G. Sharman-Crawford, a shade deeper pink with silvery blush petals, beautifully inbricated and of fine full form; Captain Christy, peach-blow, deepening to rose-colour; Marchioness of Lorne, rich rose-colour, cup-shaped, double and deep; Vick's Caprice, imperial pink, distinctly variegated with deep rose, unique and lovely; Oakmont, clear light pink; Robert Scott, bright pink, tinged cherry red, and always and ever Paul Neyron, the largest rose of any class, bright rosy pink with satiny, shining sheen; Mabel Morrison, the fair daughter of the peerless Baroness Rothschild and ruby red J. B. Clark; these stand at the head of everblooming roses of whatever class. Then Coquette des Perles, with hard round buds and deep cup-shaped double white roses in full clusters, while not among new roses, is yet not to be underrated.
White American Beauty, or Frau Karl Druschki, is a magnificent pure white rose of this group, but is not an assured everbloomer. It belongs to the American Beauty family by indisputable features of resemblance. It is not of American origin, but comes to our gardens from Germany, where it originated.
The only other sport of this exclusive family is the Queen of Edgley, or Pink American Beauty. In 1897, in a house devoted to American Beauties by the Floral Exchange Company of Philadelphia, at Edgley, Pennsylvania, fortune unexpectedly came to the rose growers in the form of an American Beauty, except in a distinct shade of pink, without a tinge of red. It was entered and won the Gold Medal at the Rose Show. The name of Queen of Edgley was conferred on it, but Pink American Beauty is the name by which it is best known. The colour is lighter than Caroline Testout, and deeper than La France. During the flush of its brief beauty, it fills an honoured position among the roses of winter and in out-door gardens in springtime, is a rose of imperial beauty.