JOURNAL OF THE ROYAL HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY 36: 529-533 (1911)
By G. L. PAUL
Read September 13, 1910.
THE few notes which follow deal with Rambling Roses, their development and their possibilities. By "rambler" I mean something distinct from the ordinary climbing and pillar roses; I mean a variety which grows rapidly and throws out strong branches in various directions, and is usually well clad with foliage; it is, in every sense, a very vigorous forum of climbing rose.
In looking through the catalogues of by-gone days one is struck by the fact that although some of our oldest roses were ramblers in the true sense of the word, yet it is this class that modern rosarians have left to the last in their efforts to obtain new varieties; and it is particularly noticeable that nearly all those ramblers that have lasted until the present day are whites, or white touched with pink. In the most recent catalogue. of the National Rose Society we find the following old names still surviving: 'Felicité Perpetué' (introduced in 1828), 'Aimée Vibert' (1841), 'Bennett's Seedling,' 'Blairi No, II.,' 'Dundee Rambler,' 'Flora,' 'Madame d'Arblay' (which, by the way, was raised in England), 'Ruga,' 'The Garland,' and 'Splendens.' With the exception of 'Blairi No. Il.' and 'Flora,' they are all whites.
'Felicité Perpetué,' the earliest of them all, is a reputed hybrid from Rosa sempervirens, the wild Italian briar, and others like 'Dundee Rambler,' 'Ruga,' and 'Splendens' are hybrids from the Ayrshire rose, Rosa arvensis, the wild white briar of our own country.
It may here be remarked how singular it is that while a number of varieties have been raised from the Ayrshire Rose, we know of scarcely any that have come to us from the Dog Rose, the Rosa canina of our hedges. Probably the only hybrid of merit we have is 'Una,' raised at Cheshunt from a cross between Rosa canina and 'Gloire de Dijon.' It would be most serviceable if someone would take up this plant and give us a new race with the distinct, beautiful habit of the Dog Rose. The Dog Rose is naturally prone to variation, and there are not only a number of sub-species, but also one or two natural hybrids like Rosa alba, so that the possibilities are great.
In old days there were also the 'Boursaults,' hybrids of R. alpina, of which probably only one survives — 'Morletti,' retained for its colour; and there were some early hybrids of R. multiflora, such as Russelliana, still found in old gardens, and another, 'de la Grifferie,' occasionally used as a stock for budding. The old 'Seven Sisters' rose 'Grevillei' also belongs to this class. There were, too, a few double-flowered forms of Rosa setigera, the American prairie rose, like 'Baltimore Belle' and 'Prairie Beauty,' which were among the best. 'Reine Olga de Wurtemburg,' even better still, also belongs to this class. There were added from that time up to recent days comparatively few real ramblers. Introductions like 'Gloire de Dijon,' 'Rêve d'Or,' and other Noisettes cannot in the strictest sense be termed ramblers. The raisers of new roses seem to have devoted themselves almost exclusively to the improvement of Hybrid Perpetuals and Teas. 'Claire Jacquier,' 'Paul's Single White,' 'Reine Olga de Wurtemburg' were among the rare additions during this period, until in 1893 the rose world was startled, as it had perhaps never been before, by the appearance on the scene of Turner's 'Crimson Rambler,' which, coming so unexpectedly and being so well exhibited, revealed infinite possibilities for new effects in rose gardens. It was inevitable that the attention of hybridists should at once be directed to this new class. Three years later, what was one of the first hybrids from 'Crimson Rambler,' our Cheshunt rose 'Psyche' was introduced, followed a year later by 'Wallflower,' and three years later still by 'Tea Rambler,' a hybrid between 'Crimson Rambler' and a seedling Tea, but suggesting by its vigour and growth, so much surpassing the rambler, some very rampant ancestor.
Introductions from all parts of Europe and America followed closely upon one another, and the use of rambler roses in our rose gardens increased rapidly year by year.
The reintroduction of the Japanese species, Rosa Wichuraiana, at this moment was most opportune, and a young American named MANDA, by what was little less than a stroke of genius, using this almost evergreen species, introduced at once striking new features into our rambling roses. The dense foliage and late flowering of that species at once brought in new qualities; and later still, when this new class had been more fully developed, WALSH, another American, and others, by a happy thought, combined the results obtained with the Multifloras with those gained in the hybrid Wichuraianas, thus giving us such varieties as 'Lady Gay' and 'Hiawatha,' possessing the best qualities of both sections, and which, if not perpetual, at least by their late flowering, extend the season and particularly lend themselves to decorative purposes. The introduction of these, amongst other advantages, led to the revival and greater use of those weeping standards, which previously had been confined almost entirely to the white varieties.
The crosses of the Wichuraiana with the Teas have produced yet another race, flowering earlier and giving us combinations of colour at once charming and distinct. Among this earlier blooming race one of the most beautiful is 'Jersey Beauty,' with its large, delicate, single flowers and evergreen foliage. I have been fortunate enough to secure some seedlings from it, possessing in a considerable extent the same desirable characteristics. Among these are 'Ariel,' a cross between 'Jersey Beauty' and 'Tea Rambler,' and 'Shower of Gold,' a cross between 'Jersey Beauty' and a yellow hybrid Tea. Recollecting that 'Jersey Beauty' has already Tea blood in its veins, it is not surprising that some of the seedlings from the latter cross have lost their climbing habit, although retaining the beautiful foliage of the Wichuraianas. A similar thing occurred earlier with the Multifloras, which produced a race of Pompom roses, now greatly developed, from Rose 'Pacquerette,' and gave us the best roses for edging our borders.
It will be seen how largely the influence of Rosa Wichuraiana enters into our modern rambling roses, and we begin to realize the common aim that hybridists have had in view, for if we examine the various crosses that have been made with Wichuraianas we see that they have nearly all been made with perpetual-flowering varieties, and so it is to he presumed that the ultimate end in view was to secure a race of perpetual-flowering ramblers. All the more singular is it, then, that while this end has not been attained to any great degree, other results, perhaps not so much expected, have been reached, for the Wichuraiana foliage has to a very large extent been retained, as have also its later blooming character, its comparative hardiness, and its habit of flowering upon the young wood. All these things have, even if they have not been directly worked for, added desirable qualities to our rambling roses, and it is apparent that even the perpetual-blooming tendency must he there, though at present dormant, and only needing to be brought to surface, so to speak, to give us an autumnal flowering race.
One or two present-day raisers of new roses, too, have been making wider experiments, and to this end have not contented themselves with working on one. or two lines, but have thrown out feelers in other directions and with a certain amount of success. Among these names may be mentioned LAMBERT, of Trier, who, by working with the Musks and Noisettes, has obtained the best perpetual rambler up to date, 'Trier,' which, if a little deficient in colour, is a most distinct advance.
Now we must not forget that the early hybridist used the Musk-rose as seed-parent, although they did not carry their developments very far. 'Mme. d'Arblay,' already mentioned, 'Princesse de Nassau,' 'The Garland,' are all hybrids of the Musk. But the introduction of the Noisette, which in its initial state was a hybrid of the Musk-rose, seems to have diverted the attention of the raisers of those times to this new class. These Noisettes gave us perpetual bloomers, but they also destroyed to a large extent the habit of the true rambler. 'Trier,' says Mr. LAMBERT, is a seedling from 'Rêve d'Or.' 'Rêve d'Or' is probably the most rambling of all the Noisettes, but it is in essence a true Musk, showing that it has harked back to the common ancestor. I have experimented to a considerable extent with the Musks and have raised a large number of seedlings therefrom, many of them continuous bloomers, but not more than semi-climbers; and the Musk race has another defect, which is that it does not always endure the winter frosts, and consequently is not altogether suitable for hybridizing purposes. Thus the stage of perpetual-flowering kinds has been reached, but the lack of hardiness and vigour has not yet been entirely eliminated.
By crossing the hybrid Multifloras with the Noisette 'Celine Forestier' I obtained some seedlings such as 'Goldfinch' and 'Starlight,' which have the vigour of the Multifloras but which still exhibit some trace of the Musk or Noisette tenderness, so that occasionally one will find upon plants of 'Goldfinch' and others black, unhealthy patches on the wood, showing the influence of the Musk blood.
We find, then, that the present state of rambling roses in our garden is roundly this:—
We have secured, undoubtedly, much improvement in them; we have good foliage, vigour, considerable hardiness, and we have, lying dormant, in the most modern varieties, a strong tendency towards the perpetual character. If we can combine the Multifloras, or even more so, the Wichuraianas with the Musks and the Noisettes, we may, with some hope of success, look forward to a race of true continual bloomers, and I believe we are on the eve of a great advance with rambling roses and that we shall shortly bring them into line with those beautiful dwarf decorative roses that furnish our rose-beds with such lovely colours in the autumn.
Yet it is curious to observe how, among the great number of rose species, the comparatively few there are that have been used byhybridists to gain variety. R. rugosa has been used, but has hardly been carried beyond the first or second stage. There is another species, R. humilis, which flowers in the autumn, and yet I know of only one hybrid from it — a hybrid with rugosa — one of the freest autumn-flowering varieties we have. One cannot help thinking that here is an opportunity for amateurs for original work and research, because professional rose growers are bound to a large extent to study the demands of their clients and have neither the time nor the opportunity to make these first crosses, which often bring about at last the most distinct changes in rose growing. I suggest that some of our amateurs should make tentative crosses between the species and give us some novel creation that would help to procure a new race of garden hybrids.
There is a point of some interest to which we may briefly allude. It is well known that the many species of wild roses are divided into some nineteen or so groups following their botanical affinities, and it is worthy of observation that substantially all the parents of our ramblers belong to one only of these groups. R. multiflora, R. Wichuraiana, R. moschata, R. arvensis, and R. sempervirens are all allied and have all been used largely. R. setigera, the one American kind belonging to the group, has been used to some slight extent. More extension into other groups is needful, and with care and patience some unthought-of results will repay the workers on these lines.