The Rose Annual pp. 74-78 (1926)
FIFTY YEARS OF ROSE DEVELOPMENT.
By Rev. JOSEPH H. PEMBERTON, Havering-atte-Bower, Essex.

The thought uppermost this year in the minds of the members of the National Rose Society is the growth of the Society since its inauguration in the winter of 1876.

But it will not be overlooked that the growth of the Society is due to a large extent to the development of the Rose during the last 50 years.

The writer has been a member of the Society since it was formed, and he has seen personally the development of our wonderful flower. He has exhibited at every Summer Show of the National Rose Society, the first being in St. James's Hall in 1877.

It is not easy for some people in these days to realise that a little more than 50 years ago the Rose was only one of many other flowers, a flower for the border, a flower blooming for a brief period of a few weeks in the summer.

In my grandmother's days there were no autumn flowering Roses. Rose de Meaux was one of her favourites, and she'd come indoors at the end of June with a bunch, and I have no doubt that she would be quite prepared to sit down at the piano and feel with truthfulnes the sentiment of the song—" 'Tis the last Rose of Summer."

As I say, the Rose was just one of many other flowers in the herbaceous border. "Bedding out" in Roses was a thing unknown. Then came the introduction of what we called in those days " Hybrid Perpetuals," which gave a second set of blooms after the first crop was over. But when all is said and done, they were only echoes of the past. The first set of Hybrid Perpetuals bloomed sparsely. The summer growth of the early varieties were mostly blind shoots, as, for example, in General Jacqueminot, Duke of Edinburgh and Sultan of Zanzibar. These were the earliest set of Hybrid Perpetuals.

But a further development to extend the Rose season was in progress, and to this we are indebted to M. Victor Verdier, M. Lacharme, and others, who gave us Hybrid Perpetuals shorter in growth, sturdy, upright, which produced flowers from the tips of the summer growth, the best known of which are, perhaps, Mme. Eugene Verdier, Marie Finger, and Etienne Levet. Then followed Capt Christy, La France, and the like, sent out at first as Hybrid Perpetuals, but when the Hybrid Tea race became recognised they were classed as Hybrid Tea.

It is true that of good perpetual blooming Roses we had a few that were not Hybrid Perpetuals. There was the old Gloire de Dijon and some of the Bourbon race, such as Souvenier de la Malmaison, Baron Maynard and Boule de Neige; but it was not until the advent of the Hybrid Teas that real autumn flowering Roses were available; and even then the majority of Rose lovers did not look with favour at any Rose that did not give large specimen blooms. The exhibitions held by the National Rose Society were confined entirely to specimen blooms, which were set up in separate tubes and termed "Exhibition Roses." There was no class in the schedule for any other Roses. But the advent of the Hybrid Tea gradually changed all that; for instance, Mr. Henry Bennett, of Stapleford, near Salisbury, brought out a Decorative Rose called "Grace Darling." It was not an Exhibition Rose; it lacked size; but Rose lovers saw its beauty and began to grow it. That was one of the earliest of what was then termed "Garden Roses," and one cannot but feel that many a decorative seedling Rose, brilliant in colour and free flowering, was consigned to the bonfire because it lacked size.

The flower beds in the garden were occupied with "bedding out" with yellow Calceolaria, blue Lobelia, and Mrs Pollock Geranium. No one ever thought in those days that it was possible for a Rose to occupy that position. Nevertheless, it came into the garden at last, and now fills the beds that were once occupied by bedding out.

And then another development came in the introduction of the Ramblers. The first was the Crimson Rambler, shortly followed by the Wichuraiana hybrids Dorothy Perkins, Hiawatha, and the like, and these decorative Roses in the garden, and the rambler Roses for pillars, further increased the interest in the Rose as a garden flower, and we longed for the time when they might be included in the Exhibitions of the National Rose Society.

Classes of Decorative Roses were slow in coming into the schedule, but they came at last, and gradually they have crept up to the class of Exhibition Roses until now they are the foremost and popular section. But even so far the Rose was regarded as a summer flower only. As an exhibitor my aim was to show Roses at Leicester on the Tuesday after the August Bank Holiday, and if we had done that we were satisfied: we had had a good season.

But with these decorative Hybrid Teas there were so many Roses in bloom in September that one began to realise the possibility of an Autumn Show of Roses. It took a few years, however, before we could persuade the National Rose Society to hold an Autumn Show, and when it did it was only as an experiment, for a great many doubted as to the advisability of it. It was held, nevertheless, and the result was that the autumn flowering qualities in a Roe were brought to the front, and so naturally there came an increased demand for autumn flowering Roses.

But the autumn exhibitions of the National Rose Society demonstrated the lack of cluster Roses. The Ramblers were not autumn flowering Roses: they were absent, and cluster Roses were wanted.

Now here comes my difficulty. One hesitates to speak of one's own affairs, but it has been demanded from those in authority and I must obey.

I used to be a breeder of horses, and what little I knew on that point helped me in taking up the breeding of Roses, and my first thought was "I'll try to breed a race of Roses that will give autumn flowering clusters, to carry on the blooming where the Ramblers left off," and this race of Roses has since been known as Hybrid Musks. These Hybrid Musks all carry the Musk perfume. The majority of them are pure and simple cluster Roses. They are a distinctive race, and can best be described as "Shrub Roses." Now there is one feature of this race that must be recognised, and that is that they are autumn flowering Roses pure and simple. One means that they are at their best in September and October. They come into bloom quite early in the season, and continue throughout until winter frosts close them down. If we have no frosts, no severe frosts before Christmas, then we expect to cut Hybrid Musks from the open garden right up to Christmas Day. But whatever may be said about perpetual flowering qualities of other Roses, they are, for the most part, at their best in midsummer, whereas Hybrid Musks are at their best in the autumn.

A word or two about this race: it is a new break, and bears a promise of further development. These Hybrid Musks for the purpose of garden decoration may roughly be divided into two sections, namely: (1) Those suitable as shrub Roses for specimen bushes and hedges, and (2) Those adapted for massing and bedding. In the first category the writer would place, amongst others, Moonlight, a lemon coloured single flower cluster; Prosperity, a white rosette; Vanity, rose pink, single, flowers carried in large sprays — perhaps the largest trusses of any Rose; Kathleen, a blush pink single; Danae, pale yellow rosette; Pax, a large Rose of its class, single, white, and lemon coloured in the bud. For bedding purposes, Nur Mahal, crimson, large, semi-double flowers, produced in corymbs; Penelope, shell-pink, after the colour of Ophelia, with dark green foliage; Cornelia, colour strawberry, flushed yellow, flowers small rosette. There are several on the border line, hardly tall enough for a hedge, but too robust for bedding. To name a few: Aurora, colour golden canary; Francesca, apricot, after the way of Lady Hillingdon; Sammy, carmine, trusses carried erect, flowering late into November; Callisto, a yellow cluster, flowers rosette; Clytemnestra, coppery bud, opening to chamois yellow.

One more observation. The popularity of the Rose is to a considerable extent due to its adaptability for all garden purposes, from being one among many flowers in the border, and then being grown for its specimen blooms; it has adorned our pillars and our lawns; we have it as a perpetual flowering shrub, and if we want a hedge it is there. In a word, I ask, is there any purpose in our garden which the Rose cannot supply? Is it, therefore, to be surprised at when we speak, with all truthfulness, of the popularity of the Rose? A wonderful flower indeed!