HARDINESS OF CHINA ROSES
CHARLES G. PAGE, WASHINGTON, D. C.
By China Roses I mean Teas, Bengals, Noisettes, and their intermediates. There is something very peculiar in respect to what is usually termed the "hardiness" of these roses. Several years since, I ventured the opinion that their hardiness was quite circumstantial; that is to say, they were hardy or not according to circumstances, and experience since that time has convinced me that many of these roses, which are generally considered tender, are, in reality, very hardy. The China Roses will frequently bloom out of doors in this region, after exposure to a temperature of 24° Fahrenheit, and the foliage will appear to be unharmed by a temperature still lower, if not too long continued. This looks like hardiness, and in what then consists their tenderness? And is it not possible to make them always hardy?
The extreme activity or tendency to grow and bloom, even at very low temperatures, seems to beget the tenderness of these roses, and it is reasonable to infer that if at proper times this tendency should be checked by any means so as to allow the wood and buds to mature before winter sets in, they would endure great cold without injury. It is well known that when these roses are set with a northern exposure, they are less injured than when exposed to the sun. They stop growing early, and the sap is quiet during winter. But we must have our roses in all kinds of exposures; and it is difficult to imitate the north exposure by temporary shade. We can do this however to some extent by a shade of pine or cedar brush, but it would be unsightly to retain such kind of shelter throughout the year. Cutting the roots or a partial lifting of the bush might have the desired effect if done in season, which should be before the hard autumnal frosts: in this region, about the latter part of October. Some years since, 1 noticed that a Solfatarre, which had been transplanted in the fall, escaped injury in the winter; while one near it, and undisturbed, was killed close to the ground. There is probably no variety of rose that will endure a temperature of zero Fahr. upon unripened branches, and expanded leaf buds; and there are probably very few roses that will not endure this temperature provided the wood has been fully ripened and the buds are all dormant and the sap quiet. The Gloire de Dijon is an excellent illustration. It belongs to a tender family, but is perfectly hardy here. Its hardiness is not, however, entirely intrinsic, but depends upon its habit of growth. Unlike Teas and Noisettes generally, it stops growing in the fall, and is not apt to be quickened again till the spring. It prepares for winter like a Remontant, and has proved itself here more hardy than the majority of Remontants. In that rigorous winter of 1855-6, it stood better than La Reine, Madame Laffay, Wm. Griffith, and others. This winter has been thus far very destructive to Teas and Noisettes, but the Dijon is unharmed. The bush recently described to you upon an east wall of the house, although it grew 75 feet the past year, exhibits no appearance of injury. Another bush upon a south wall is somewhat injured, and one upon a north wall is not injured in the least. The new rose America is somewhat injured in consequence of unusual activity late in the season, but where it was not over stimulated and ceased growing early, it is unharmed; showing a hardiness nearly equal to the Dijon. Solfatarre, Cloth of Gold, Augusta, Ophir, all of which were unharmed last winter, are now cut down close to the ground. All the Teas and Bengals and some of the Bourbons are also destroyed to within two or three inches of the earth; White Microphylla also is much injured, and Fortune's Yellow, a tender once bloomer, nearly killed out.
It is not amiss to mention here that Peach trees are much injured, many of them killed entirely. The winter has not been so very cold, but its vicissitudes have been such that vegetation must suffer sorely in this region.