Chronicle pp. 371-372 (June 8, 1844)
REMARKS ON SAVING ROSE SEED, AND RAISING SEEDLINGS
W. Paul, Nurseries, Cheshunt, Herts.
THE season is fast approaching when the English Rosaries will again present a scene of beauty, and many new and improved varieties of this favourite flower will doubtless meet the gaze of those amateurs who have recently improved their collections, or who may be disposed to visit those of more enthusiastic cultivators. In viewing these continual improvements, the result of continental skill, the question may probably have arisen in the minds of many-How is it that the raising of Roses from seed has hitherto engaged but little the attention of English florists? It is not unfrequently said, that the climate of England is not suitable for this branch of culture, in consequence of the double varieties scarcely ever perfecting their seed here. It may appear that if we can only save seed from the least double varieties—fulness being an essential qualification of a good Rose—we cannot reasonably expect any great measure of success. That our climate is less favourable for saving seed than that of the Continent, is readily admitted; but may we be allowed to ask, if that difference is sufficient to warrant us in concluding that our endeavours would not be reasonably rewarded? Practically speaking we may presume not; for the Roses Blairii, No. 1 and No. 2, George the Fourth, and numerous others we might mention, are of English origin. But few very double varieties seed here it is true; and this may also be said of some parts where many of our finest Roses were originated. Some of our best and latest new Roses have been produced from seed gathered from hybrids—Athelin and Celine—two varieties which seed abundantly here even in unfavourable seasons; and it is from these have sprung a portion of that beautiful class termed Hybrid Perpetuals. Presuming, then, there are good reasons to believe that varieties of standard merit may be raised here, let us mention a few kinds which seed freely in England, and appear well suited for female parents. First among the hybrid Chinese are—Athelin and Celine, Ne Plus Ultra, Duke of Devonshire, Chatelain, Princess Augusta, Henri Barbet, Globe White Hip, General Allard, Aurora, and others. These might be crossed with some of the freest-blooming Damask Perpetual or Bourbon Roses, to endeavour to obtain an increase of, and an improvement among the hardy autumnal Roses. The Ayrshire and Sempervirens, among which there is a paucity of high-coloured flowers, might be fertilised with the farina of some dark varieties, selected from those sections which approach nearest to them in natural character. Here Ruga, Splendens, and Leopoldine d'Orleans, might form the female parents. Among the Moss, the single Crimson, Du Luxembourg, and Eclatante, occasionally seed. Among the Briers, the Double Yellow and Harrisonii. Among the Bourbons, the Old or de Lisle, Augustine Lelieur, Dubourg, Gloire de Rosaménes, Emile Courtier, and Bouquet de Flore. Among the Chinese, Camellia blanc, Fabvier, Therése Stravius, Alba, Belle Elvire, Henri Cinque, and Madame Bureau. Among the Tea-scented, Odorata, Jaune, Hamon, Lyonnais, Hardy, Lady Granville, Caroline, Goubault, Belle Allemande, and Bardon. Many of the least-double Gallica Roses also seed freely. These, and many others, which, by seeding, have doubtless at some time struck their possessors, may be taken as female parents, and. crossed with whatever varieties the fancy of the operator may suggest. How far the experiment of crossing the different sections may be carried into effect, it is not easy to determine; but the peculiarity of certain features existing in some varieties, and readily traceable to their parents, leads us to think the scene of action will not be found very limited.
As the female parent will in many cases be but semi-double, we should endeavour to counteract the probable results of this, by crossing with farina gathered from the most double varieties that we can collect it from. The plants intended to seed should be selected in a good state of growth, and never allowed to suffer from drought. Where they bloom in trusses, the backward flower-buds should be cut out, leaving not more than six of the plumpest and most perfect buds on one flower-stalk. We are no doubt indebted to accidental crossing, in a great measure, for the various novelties and improvements in the Rose tribe. Artificial crossing, however, appears the only probable method of obtaining an end in view; and although this is at first somewhat tedious, it will be found to increase in interest as we become familiar with its application. Just as the flowers intended to be crossed are expanding, it will be necessary to re move the anthers or they will burst, and the flower thus become self-impregnated. They may be removed early in the day, with a small pair of scissors; and in a sunny hour, flowers should be gathered from the variety we intend to cross with, and the pollen dusted on the stigma of the flowers of the opposite parent. A truss of flowers may be crossed with one kind, and a gauze bag drawn over each truss when the operation is completed, to prevent the perversion of our designs by the countless millions which swarm in the air at this season of the year. The dusting of the pollen may be repeated once or twice, to make our purpose sure. If we wish to know the results of our crossing, and whence the seedlings spring, leaden numbers may be attached to each flower-stalk, and corresponding ones with the names of the parents affixed, be written in a book. Probably after crossing, the seeds have seldom been kept separate, on account of the trouble it would occasion; nevertheless, raisers have been able, by tracing a little, and guessing a great deal, to acquaint us with the progenitors of their seedlings. But what might be known for certainty, thus often becomes a matter of speculation.
In autumn, as soon as the seed is ripe, it should be gathered and placed with the number in the gauze-bags previously used, and left in the seed-vessel till required for sowing. We may sow the seeds as soon as ripe, or, in spring, when some will germinate immediately; but the greater part will not until the year following. If the seed be kept a twelvemonth before sowing, it should be buried in the seed-vessels in boxes of sand or light earth kept moist, and not exposed to extremes of temperature. It may be sown either in seed-pans, in a frame, or in the open border; if the latter, an eastern exposure is most favourable, and, in all cases, the soil in which it is sown should be rich and light. We should sow thin, that the plants when growing may not crowd each other and become weak. The seed should not be sown too deep, and after sowing, the surface of the soil may be strewn with a light covering of Moss; as the seeds break through, this may be removed, and protection afforded against slugs and birds. It will also be advisable to shade and water them, and where too thick to transplant the weakest at an early stage of growth. Transplanting should, however, be avoided if possible, as it ordinarily retards the period of flowering. Some of the seedling Indicas will flower in the autumn of the same year, but for the mass we must wait one or two subsequent seasons. As winter approaches, some plan must be devised to protect them from frost, as the plants, in general being young, are more than usually tender. One advantage gained by sowing in pans or in a frame is, the efficient mode in which we can accomplish this, by removing the former to a pit or greenhouse, and affording protection to the latter in the usual manner. When sown in the border, they must be covered with Moss, or some protecting substance, to shield them from the frost.