Rose Annual (1915) 21-23
The Lasting Qualities of Cut Roses
GEORGE LAING PAUL
On re-reading Mrs. Darlington's excellent paper on Cut Roses and their lasting qualities in last year's "Rose Annual," one is led to consider why certain kinds are so much preferred for florist purposes and why indoor flowers are so much used; and so, in studying Roses with a view to their lasting qualities, one naturally turns to the florist for information. The Roses which are seen in the London shops consist of a few varieties only, and these are evidently the kinds which can be profitably grown and successfully marketed as cut flowers. A well-known Scotch gardener recently told me that he had for years sent up to London for the decoration of the town house cut Roses which he had grown under glass; but that when he tried to do the same thing with Roses grown out of doors he was not successful, and he attributed this difference to the softer or, so to speak, more herbaceous growths of the indoor blooms.
Now this is precisely what those florists find who grow large quantities of cut Roses for the London and other markets. The best and most lasting flowers are produced by those varieties which will absorb most liquid and grow most rapidly and continuously; kinds like Mme. Abel Chatenay are even sent as far as Paris, where they fetch very high prices. In America, where it is said that in the winter the morning sun will send up the temperature some 30 degrees in an hour, it has proved possible to grow fine flowers of varieties such as American Beauty, which are comparative failures in our more sunless climate. Our growth is not so rapid and the absorption of water consequently not so great.
Such experiences, gained under well defined conditions, indicate the great importance in the preparations of Rose beds, of providing for a constant supply of moisture. We cannot so well control out of doors, as under glass, the conditions under which our Roses grow, but we can at least see that, the drainage being adequate, the subsoil is sufficiently retentive to provide moisture at all times to the young feeding roots. Examination of the prize blooms at any important Rose exhibition will show that the stems, though strong and healthy, are by no means very woody. They are easily cut with a knife and contain a considerable proportion of pith. Even the largest bunches of the wichuraianas are borne upon wood of a sappy nature. Roses, like other plants, assimilate the food they take from the soil in a liquid form, and so the best blooms are found upon growths containing much moisture. The modern Rose, with its continuous growth and perpetual flowering qualities, needs constant feeding, but in a different fashion to that of bygone days. Thus a proper supply of nitrates becomes more and more essential, whilst Rosarians are rapidly coming round to the opinion that there is need for caution in the use of potash if fine flowers are to be obtained. I have not studied this point closely, but seek rather for information. There is here a wide field for the chemist and scientific Rosarian.
I dare not follow Mrs. Darlington on the question of colour or colours. Undoubtedly some of the yellows deepen in colour if kept in water some time. Mme. Hoste is kept in a dark cupboard by the florist, and thus becomes much deeper in colour. The question of yellow Roses, however, is an exceptional one, for there are two classes. Some of the kinds come a deeper and a better colour in hot sunny weather, whilst others require a cool, shady climate to obtain perfection. The Lyons Rose, Sunburst, and the Marechal Niel family are instances of the former, whilst Mme. Ravary is the most striking example of the latter.
Roses should be put into water immediately they are cut and the water should not be too cold, the chill being taken off. If they can then be kept some little time in a dull place before using them, they will be found to last longer and to open much fresher.