Garden 55: 90-91, 194, 206, 208 (June 1929)
THE RENAISSANCE OF THE HYBRID PERPETUAL
A Sturdy Type of Rose that Is a Boon to Gardens Where the More Delicate Sorts Are Not Safely Hardy
J. H. NICOLAS
THERE is no denying the fact that in our mad desire for "everblooming" or "monthly" Roses we have neglected the Hybrid Perpetuals, a class of varieties as beautiful as, and sometimes more sweetly perfumed than, most other garden Roses.
Hybrid Perpetuals are hardy anywhere in the United States and most of Canada, while North of the Mason and Dixon line the Hybrid Tea as a class is safely hardy (without protection) in but a few privileged locations.
The Tea Rose was the aristocrat of the gardens until 1842, when this new race of brilliant parvenues appeared and soon developed into a mighty army that swept everything away on its road to the supremacy of Rosedom. This impression can be gathered from the fact that in 1902 Monsieur Jules Gravereaux had collected 1690 varieties in his famous Roserie de L'Hay near Paris. Of these but few are today found in American gardens. This neglect is really regrettable, for the varieties remaining on the nurseryman's list are not always the best of that once numerous family, and certainly are not better than these glorious Roses; Géant des Batailles, fiery red; Empereur du Maroc, a velvet even darker than the noted Chateau de Clos Vougeot (either wine or rose); Oscar Cordel, which Admiral Ward thought to be the best of the pink Hybrid Perpetuals; Victor Hugo, Van Fleet's favorite crimson; Xavier Olibo, a maroon velvet of great depth and exhilarating perfume. What a great pity it is that nurserymen, heeding the diminishing sales, should have so shortened their Rose lists as to deprive us of such gems!
Truly, the origin of the Hybrid Perpetual is not very definite, although it is attributed to crosses of Gallica and Damask which bloom but once, with some extremely floriferous forms of Bengal resulting in a new type that retained the vigor,robustness and hardiness of the Gallica and acquired the faculty of blooming again in the summer or autumn of the same year. Later the pink form of the Tea species may also have been used, and to the Tea, which in its Asiatic habitat is a rampant climber, may be traced the exuberant growth of some varieties. The English growers were so enthusiastic over this second blooming that they applied to the new race that name Perpetual which proved to be slightly exaggerated. The French, more conservative, called it Hybride Remontant, which literally and truthfully means that the sap may ascend again in bloom. Botanists followed the sense of the French version and named the new strain Hybrida bifera — blooming twice.
The remontance (or recurrence) of the Hybrid Perpetual is most often a matter of treatment and sometimes of climate. Generally the plants are neglected and left unpruned and abandoned to themselves; the quality of their flowers decreases each year as the wood grows older. Considered as June Roses only, they are relegated to oblivion as soon as the Spring bloom is over, to become the prey of insects and diseases, mainly mildew. If Hybrid Perpetuals received half the care bestowed upon Hybrid Teas they would give a better account of themselves, actually surprising us. Many varieties would reward us with a succession of blooms, some even being almost "perpetual".
Like the Hybrid Teas, Hybrid Perpetuals must be rejuvenated each year. When this is done — cutting at the base all wood over one year old — the remaining canes are shortened. The lower the cut the more beautiful and perfect the blooms will be; about fifteen inches from the ground is right for vigorous varieties such as J. B. Clark, Frau Karl Druschki, etc., and lower (eight to ten inches) for less rampant ones. Without knowing the variety (most often their names have been lost) one may act according to the growth made the previous years. If the blooms are allowed to fade on the plant, they must be cut off as soon as possible with long stems, as they would be for bouquets. The eyes on the remaining part of the stems will, after a short rest, start to grow and a second crop of blooms may be expected later in the summer or autumn. Some varieties will truly be perpetual if "remaidened" each year, which means cut back to the ground and made to grow an entire new or maiden plant.
Last summer it was my good fortune to visit Monsieur Cochet, the fifth generation of the great Cochet dynasty of Rose hybridizers and scientists (Cochet <missing> He took me around to see great fields of Roses grown for the cut flower market of Paris. In that immediate vicinity are over 750 acres owned by 160 independent owners with a selling organization. They grow Hybrid Perpetuals only, and on August 3rd they were still cutting large quantities of Roses as beautiful and perfect as any grown here under glass — and this had been going on daily since the middle of May.
Walking through those fields, I was surprised to see what I thought to be young maidens (first year growth from buds inserted the previous summer). When I asked one of the owners whether these were new plants, he said to my amazement, "This field was planted by my grandfather thirty years ago and but very few plants had to be replaced." Calling one of the working men, he had him dig around a plant and then I saw a stump several inches in diameter! He explained that each year, in the middle of March, the plants are "mowed" close to the ground; they then grow many new stems three or more feet long ending with splendid flowers; the stems, two eyes below the cuts again sending flower-bearing long stems. I commented on the absence of those long sterile suckers we generally see on Hybrid Perpetuals in midsummer, and my host replied, "The plants are kept too busy blooming to waste their energy on suckers".
This particular field was of Ulrich Brunner. Other varieties doing splendidly and "perpetually" under the same treatment were: American Beauty, Baroness Rothschild, Captain Christy, Duchess of Sutherland, Georg Arends, George Dickson, Gloire de Paris, Mrs. John Laing, Suzanne Marie Rodoconachi, Triomphe de Caen, Vick's Caprice, Victor Verdier. Among the newer ones, Henry Nevard, John Russell, S. M. Gustave V. and Mme. Albert Barbier. I was also told that budded plants only respond to such treatment.
Climatic conditions are also a factor in the recurrence of Hybrid Perpetuals, and where the summers are short, some varieties will hardly have time to reach the second blooming, but in such regions many Hybrid Teas do not fare much better.
The vigorous varieties such as J. B. Clark, Magnafrano, Frau Karl Druschki, Hugh Dickson, etc., will make splendid pillars seven or eight feet high, although when treated in this fashion they are not likely to repeat as much as when short pruned.
The same pillar treatment may be applied to some hybrids of Rugosa, so hybridized that the Rugosa features are much obliterated and the Hybrid Perpetual characters have become predominant: Conrad F. Meyer, Nova Zembla, Turke's Samling, Nemo, Mme. Julien Potin, Ruskin, etc.
Another treatment very popular in Europe for these ultra vigorous varieties is the cordon of the French or "pinning down" of the English: the long stalks are bent down to assume a horizontal position at about twelve or fifteen inches from the ground, being thus held with small pickets. All the eyes along the stalk will grow flowers with long stems, standing at attention like good soldiers. If the cordon is not to be permanent, the stalks can be redressed after blooming and tied up to a stake. Even when pillars only are desired, it is advisable to pin down the long shoots, putting them up again after the first leaves are fully grown. This has the effect of forcing the eyes to grow from the base on; otherwise, the pillar might be bare-legged.
The border lines of the Hybrid Perpetual class are very nebulous and it is hard to decide where it begins and ends, so many botanic species or horticultural types have been used by the hybridizers. Gravereaux, the foremost authority, divided the class into eleven distinct groups and we may well add to these the newer type of so-called Rugosa Hybrids, which are genetically blood relations of the Hybrid Perpetual.
In matter of fact, it is not so much the theoretical ancestry as the practical performance that draws the demarcation line between Hybrid Perpetuals and Hybrid Teas or other classes. J. B. Clark, George Dickson, Magnafrano and John Russell, for example, from their pedigree are Hybrid Teas, and Henry Nevard a Hybrid Rugosa, but their performance classes them as Hybrid Perpetuals. On the other hand we have among Hybrid Teas actual Hybrid Perpetuals in ancestry, hardiness, ruggedness, foliage, although their dwarf habit and blooming record are of the Hybrid Tea. These are Mrs. W. C. Miller, H. V. Machin, Mrs. Prentiss Nichols, Lady Alice Stanley, The General, Mme. Albert Barbier, etc., and should be very popular in the colder States because of their ability to stand severe weather.
European Rose growers, always cognizant of the utility and beauty of the Hybrid Perpetual, never allowed it to lose its importance. In recent years they have given it renewed attention, and we can truly say that we are now witnessing a renaissance of the Hybrid Perpetual. Varieties in much improved forms and novel colors have been produced which I sincerely hope to see in America in the near future. I had noticed this movement in 1925, but in my search for novelties last summer among European hybridizers I was surprised to see the progress made in that line, not only in the North but also in the South along the Riviera and in Spain, that heavenly Rose climate, thus confirming the fact that Hybrid Perpetuals are Roses as much for warm as for cold regions.
Among the recent introductions a few have already crashed the American gates and others are on their way. It is noteworthy that almost all these new Hybrid Perpetuals are descendants of Frau Karl Druschki, and have generally retained to a degree its vigorous habit. They are a new race, so to speak, with the infusion of Pernetiana and other bloods. I have given below a description of a few that I have tested.
Henry Nevard (F. Cant, England). The form of this velvety crimson Rose reminds us of the woodcuts in early catalogs. Nested in foliage like bouquets of yesteryear in ruffled paper, it is delightfully fragrant. Its many thorns and thick foliage suggest a relationship with the Rugosa. A better bloomer when it is remaidened. In the late fall mildew may overtake the tips.
Everest (W. Easlea, England). A gigantic bloom quite double and of moderate perfume, white with a lemon center. Wood almost thornless.
Mme. Albert Barbier (Barbier, France). A new type combining the best traits of three classes — the hardiness of Druschki, the foliage of the Pernetiana, the color and floriferousness of the Hybrid Tea, Mrs. Aaron Ward. Of a medium height, it belongs to the "everblooming" class and can be planted among' tall Hybrid Teas.
Mme. Andre Saint (Barbier, France). A twin sister of the above, with the same characters but lighter in color, finishing pure white with a little tawny center.
Marie Menudel (Barbier, France). A vigorous grower that can be used as a pillar, cordon or remaidened for the cut flower. Immense bloom five to six inches when well grown, with a delightful perfume. Salmon pink with bright carmine center. When it comes on the market it will make a sensation.
Louise Crette (Chambard, France). An improved Druschki, larger, fuller and with a suspicion of fragrance. Wood almost thornless and better foliage that does not mildew. Makes five or six-foot pillars and is a fairly constant bloomer.
Mme. Mallerin (Chambard, France). Somewhat similar to the above but of dwarf form. Blooms are sometimes colossal. Can be used as a Hybrid Tea and should be pruned as such.
Briand (Mallerin, France). A tea, ...
<missing> the instigator. A manly man's Rose!
S. M. Gustave V. (Nabonnand, France). A delightful Rose of exquisite form and richly scented; I love its uniformly pink blooms of good size. Best as maiden or pruned low. A frequent repeater.
Souv. de Mme. Thuret (Nabonnand, France). A new color in the Hybrid Perpetuals, between Willomere and Los Angeles, quite fragrant. Comes again later in the season.
Marguerite Carels (Nabonnand. France). An eight-foot pillar with a myriad of good size blooms of old rose pink, semi-double. Blooms only once, but what a sight!
Rembrandt (Van Rossem, Holland). As large a Rose as Paul Neyron will ever be — with heavy leathery petals that last unusually long. A complex mixture of cream, tan and light pink. Very vigorous, thornless and of handsome foliage. As an exception to the rule, it blooms best and remonts on two-year wood only.
John Russell (A. Dickson, Ireland). On the 23rd of October I picked a mammoth bloom that would have been a masterpiece of Rosecraft had it been perfumed! The outer petals of velvety crimson penciled with maroon were expanded like a cushion of plush on which rested a mass of incurved petals of a glistening scarlet cerise. As a plant, it is of medium growth. A repeater but not a consistent bloomer unless "remaidened". Like its grandmother Druschki, absolutely void of any scent, and like her may catch mildew.
St. Ingbert (Lambert, Germany). As persistent as Sir Launcelot was in his search of the Holy Grail is friend Lambert in his efforts to produce a yellow Druschki. St. Ingbert is one of his steps toward the goal.