The Garden, p. 67 (Feb. 9, 1907)
The King of wild Roses.
(Rosa Gigantea)

It is now twenty-five years since Dr. (now Sir George) Watt discovered this king of wild Roses in Manipur, and nineteen years since the late Sir Henry Collett sent seeds of it to Kew. Its introduction was heralded by glowing descriptions, pictures and dried specimens, so that we all knew what he had got, and, of course, there was a scramble for the possession of the first lot of plants. But the king of Roses was sulky in British gardens, and, although he grew lusty and strong, he refused to flower. All the cunning and coaxing of the cleverest rosarians were unavailing, and it was not until we had all been trying for ten years that flowers were developed, not, however, in England, but in the garden of Lord Brougham at Cannes.


The King of wild Roses (Rosa gigantea) in Madeira

The following year, 1899, it flowered in Mr. Arderne's garden at Cape Town. The first plant to flower in England was in the Duke of Northumberland's garden at Albury Park, Guildford. Some of us were sceptical even then, and Dr. Henry and I went to Albury to satisfy ourselves that Mr. Leach, the gardener at Albury, knew Rosa gigantea. He did, and by luck or intention he gave it exactly the same treatment as he had given with success for many years to another shy Eastern Rose, namely, R. fortuneana. This did the trick; the flowers were there, and we brought some to Kew to be figured for the Botanical Magazine. Mr. Leach grew his plant permanently under glass in a lean-to house facing south.

I have not seen or heard of this Rose flowering elsewhere in Britain, and I am unable to say how it can be made to flower. The accompanying illustration shows that it is happy and good-natured in Madeira, which is what one would expect of such an evident sun-worshipper. We have not given up all hope of finding a way to success with this Rose. It certainly ought to be at home in a sunny position in the warmer parts of these islands.

Here is an account of it by Mr. Hildebrand, who knew and grew the Rose in Burma; indeed, I believe he helped Sir Henry Collett to get it home to England: ''Rosa gigantea grows in profusion immediately opposite the window I am now writing at, and for 100 yards or more away. The boles of some of the plants are as thick as a man's thigh. It is a creeper, and does not flower until it gets over or beyond the tree it climbs. These specimens are on large evergreen trees, and their roots are in limestone and vegetable mould, through which run innumerable springs of pure water. The boles never get the sun, and they are always in the neighbourhood of the water, which, no doubt, the roots find. The whole of a large group of trees on the southern and western side is covered up to 50 feet or 80 feet with the Rose's shoots, and when in full bloom they look like a sheet of white, and the air all round is most deliciously scented. It is certainly a glorious sight. The ground all round is strewed with the seeds of the Rose in July."

It is nothing less than an insult to a Rose of this character to confine it to a 5-inch pot or train it on a 3-feet stick, and perhaps that is why we have failed. Here is a Rose which makes annual shoots at least 12 feet long and as thick as a man's thumb, which climbs up to the tops of trees 80 feet high and bears clusters of big flowers nearly 6 inches across, pale yellow when they first blow, changing to milk white—the king of Roses without a doubt, and if we want to know and enjoy it we must afford it kingly treatment. W. W.

The Garden p. 86 (Feb 23, 1907)
The King of wild Roses.

I have read with much interest the article on Rosa gigantea in your issue of the 9th last. Your correspondent says that this plant first flowered in Europe in Lord Brougham's garden at Cannes in 1898, but I had it in flower in 1897. My original plant was given to me at Kew by Sir William Thiselton-Dyer in 1889 or 1890, and at the same time he gave plants to Lord Brougham and to the Jardin d'Acclimatation, Paris. My plants have flowered and fruited ever since, though the soil in this garden contains too much leaf-mould and no clay. A few years ago my friend M. Henri Cayeux, Director of the Polytechnic Botanic Garden in Lisbon, took some cuttings in October, grafted or budded them on to Multiflora stocks, and they flowered in the following spring. He fertilised the flowers with pollen from a Reine Marie Henriette Rose, saved seed, which he raised, and when the plants were still small budded them on to strong Multiflora stocks. In June, 1895, he informed me that one was in splendid flower, so I visited the Botanic Gardens and found a very vigorous plant covering a wall and bearing from 100 to 200 flowers! These were like a glorified Gloire de Dijon, much larger, and the colour deeper and richer; in fact, a superb Rose. The leaf retained the shape of the R. gigantea, but appeared larger. He had four other seedlings which had not yet flowered, and in these the leaves were of a different shape. I advised M. Cayeux to continue hybridising, and thereby raise a new family of Roses. He is a brother of Messrs. Cayeux of Paris, the well-known horticulturists, and I believe served his apprenticeship at Kew. He was the raiser of Begonia Cayeuxi, a hybrid of B. corallina, and also of Dombeya Cayeuxi, a beautiful pink-flowering Dombeya. The flowers of R. gigantea in Lisbon are much larger than those in Oporto, owing, I suppose, to the soil there being a reddish clay over limestone, whereas in my garden it is a sandy loam on granite; very unfavourable for most Roses. I think that if "W. W." were to bud or graft R. gigantea on to a strong-growing Rambler stock, he would soon get flowers. The plant should, I think, be against a wall, sheltered and with plenty of sun. I shall be happy to send a few cuttings by post, either now or in the autumn, to any amateur.—Baron de Soutellinho, Entre Quintas, Oporto, Portugal.

The Garden, pp. 294-295. June 22, 1907
Rosa gigantea.

In your issue of February 23 last you published a short note of mine about Rosa gigantea. In response to my offer to send cuttings I received many applications, and I sent several hundred, but, warm weather ensuing, the plants started into strong growth and I had to cease sending. The plants flowered profusely, so I had a coloured sketch and a photograph taken; they are not life-size, the flowers here measuring 5 inches to 6 inches in diameter. In a stronger clay soil they reach 8 inches. I have also a pergola of Wistaria multijuga in my garden. This is the mauve variety, with flower-bunches 3 feet to 4 feet long; the white variety flowers later and is still longer.—Baron De Soutellinho, Entre Quintas, Oporto.