A Rose Odyssey (1937) 155-160
J. H. Nicolas
When we speak of the German hybridizers the first one coming to our mind is the veteran Peter Lambert (his first name is pronounced "Paiter"), seventy‑seven years young, still very active and the dean of European hybridizers in years of service to Queen Rose. Lambert erected to himself everlasting monuments when he produced the reblooming (in German, "Remontant") Hybrid Perpetual Frau Karl Druschki (1900) and the no less famous Hybrid Tea Kaiserin Auguste Viktoria (1891).
Lambert's home is at Trier on the Moselle River, about fifteen miles from the Luxembourg border. Trier (or Treves) has a population of about sixty thousand and is considered the most ancient town of Germany. It was the capital of the Celti Treviri, from whom it took its name (anciently Augusta Treviorum). The Romans made it a colony. It was an imperial residence in the latter times of the Roman Empire. Many monuments of the epoch remain: Roman baths, an amphitheater, and "Porta Nigra," a monumental gate, now on a public square, so named because it was built by Negro slaves brought from Africa. It is said that at the height of the Roman Empire Trier had a population of over a million. Ruins of pretentious villas are today being unearthed in the surrounding country, and the town is full of Roman statuary. Its decline followed the destruction of the Roman Empire and the invasions from the East.
If one goes to Trier from the north, a picturesque route is to take a boat from Mainz, ascending the Rhine to Coblenz and from there going by train to Trier. On that stretch of the Rhine are the famous ancient castles of folklore legends and the celebrated rock of Lorelei, where, according to Heine's song, a siren sat and enticed boatmen to their death.
Lambert's estate is on the outskirts of the town where formerly stood the convent of St. Marien, destroyed during the Napoleonic wars. My wife and I were visiting the Lamberts on one occasion. We had arrived late in the evening. The following morning my wife, looking out of the window, remarked, "It must be late; see all those people already in the garden." These "people" were life‑size statues that Lambert had collected from Roman ruins and the old convent. The Lambert grounds back on the north to the Moselle River. On the other side of the river are high hills terraced with villas and vineyards. Some of the best moselle wine (which connoisseurs prefer to Rhine wine) comes from the south slope of these hills facing Lambert's place, and Trier is the central wholesale wine market. The hills offer an effective protection from northern winds. The soil in that section is of volcanic formation, of burned or rotted limestone and of highly alkaline reaction. This accounts for the luxuriance of grapevines, their great yield and quality.
Another claim of Lambert for lasting fame is his strain of everblooming hardy shrub and pillar roses, now recognized as the Lambertiana class. It generally bears a small single rose of the Multiflora type, useful for landscaping purposes, and is called in Germany a "park rose." Lambert is also a pioneer in species research, mainly directed toward foliage immunity. Lambert believes that black spot starts as "an old age infirmity", because Austrian briar, which is on one side of the family of most susceptible varieties (Pernetianas), is a species of short‑lived foliage. He says that the foliage gets prematurely old, ceases to function properly and becomes diseased. The spores then spread to younger foliage and defoliation occurs if the climatic conditions are propitious to the multiplication of spores. Lambert, corroborated by Father Schoener, claims that a strain of immune roses can be produced from species with long‑lasting foliage, as experience has proved that evergreen and ever‑growing types such as R. bracteata, R. longicuspis, R. glomerata, R. gigantea macrocarpa, etc., are absolutely immune to leaf diseases. He also believes that a careful selection of breeders in the mixed Hybrid Tea and Pernetiana classes would help in bringing about a more resistant strain.
Lambert has always claimed that the Hybrid Perpetual would return to favor. The present trend in Germany vindicates him. His latest productions are two seedlings of Druschki: "Reichpresident von Hindenburg", a mammoth pink bloom, very scented; and Golden Druschki, a good yellow replica of the famous white rose. These, budded on Multiflora, are better used as pillar roses.
I have mentioned Lambert's masterpiece, Frau Karl Druschki. An American catalogue said, "Its only fault is an overexuberant growth for a small space. It requires hardhearted pruning to keep it of manageable size." Druschki and the other vigorous Hybrid Perpetuals are not "overexuberant" in Europe, not solely because they are budded from flowering wood, which in itself has a tendency to moderate the growth, but mostly because they are budded on a rootstock, R. canina, which, not being overvigorous, checks the exuberant tendency. This practice is the counterpart of that in which special rootstocks are used to produce dwarf fruit trees. A pear variety, for instance, that grafted on quince will always remain a bush, may grow into a large tree when grafted on some other rootstock.
Lambert says it is a grave error to bud Hybrid Perpetuals on Multiflora, which forces an extraordinary wood growth at the expense of bloom. As Hybrid Perpetuals are coming back into use in Germany he is now experimenting with various rootstocks to dwarf the Hybrid Perpetuals on the same principle as dwarfing fruits. I wonder what kind of Druschki plants would grow if budded on R. rouletti, which experiment I am going to do this summer.
In Lambert's fields I have not seen a single Druschki over twenty‑four inches high, but all were full of bloom. I recently described "Reichpresident von Hindenburg", a new Lambert HP for a dealer. In our place, budded on Multiflora, it grows to eight feet in a season, but Lambert describes it as two feet high. Some of us old timers may remember an early Van Fleet Hybrid Tea, Magnafrano (1900). For years it was sold on its own roots and it remained a typical Hybrid Tea. I budded it on Multiflora for breeding purposes and I got plants of Druschki exuberance, thus emphasizing its seed parent, Magna Charta. It is from one of these plants that I bred the climber Virginia.
As to cultural methods, Lambert believes implicitly in root "dressing", which means a reasonable root trimming, to induce the growth of new feeding roots, and in a very close pruning, almost a radical removal of the tops at planting. For old plants he prunes back to about one fourth of the previous year's growth. If a plant has grown twenty‑four inches, he cuts back to six inches or even lower if maximum quality blooms are desired. Lambert is also uncompromisingly opposed to any feeding whatsoever for the first year of planting. He claims that the practice of feeding new plants is responsible for more losses than all other causes added together—save, perhaps, insufficient packing of the roots.