Amateur's Guide (1863) pp. 221-226
In the following article in 'The Florist' for December 1860, I have given another method of inducing roses to bloom freely in the autumn, headed
MY attention all this month of November, and the preceding one of October, has been drawn to a bed of roses, consisting of a score or two of dwarf plants, which have had an unceasing succession of beautiful flowers, far beyond anything I have ever seen in autumn-blooming roses. On looking into them I found them to be a new variety of Hybrid Perpetual Rose called L'Etoile du Nord, which was one of the new roses of 1860, condemned as not being up to my standard, its petals being thin, and the rose, although very large and of a brilliant crimson, seeming an inferior variety of General Jacqueminot, from which one would judge it had been raised. As the treatment of these roses may be of interest, and lead to a new and simple mode of cultivating roses for blooming very late in the season, I will, in a few words, give it.
The original plants were received from France in December 1859, with other new roses, and their shoots taken off in January and grafted on Manetti stocks in the grafting-house, where, of course, artificial heat is employed. They grew well, and bloomed abundantly, in a cool house, in April and May, but, as I have said, their flowers not being thought first-rate, the plants were suffered to remain in small 4-inch pots till the middle of June, and then planted out, not being thought worthy of further pot cultivation. The ground they were planted in was heavily manured, so that they grew very freely, but were not noticed till the beginning of October, when the bed was observed to be a mass of buds and blossoms, the latter quite globular and of extraordinary beauty, and so they have continued to be till this day, the 24th of November. Now this simple fact seems to tell us, that what has resulted from accident may be carried out by rose cultivators, and lead to a method by which our rose gardens may be made more beautiful in autumn than they have yet been.
The rationale of the matter seems to be this. The plants, from being cramped in their growth in early summer, when all their energies are in full play, hasten in autumn to make up for lost time, and thus grow and bloom in the greatest vigour. In the 'Gardeners' Chronicle,' No. 47 (1860), page 1042, I have described strawberries as bearing freely in autumn from having been accidentally treated in the same way as my L'Etoile du Nord Roses. I should therefore counsel rose-lovers to pot in 4 and 6-inch pots in the month of November free-growing, thin-petalled roses, such as the above, General Jacqueminot, Oriflamme de St. Louis, Triomphe des Beaux Arts, and others of the same nature, so as to give diversity in colour, and allow them to grow and bloom in an orchard-house or greenhouse till the middle of June, and then cut off their bloom-stalks and any flower-buds that remain, and plant them out in a rich border. The plants may be subjected to this treatment year after year, increasing the size of the pots to a small extent, so as always to stint their spring growth, for the roots of the plants will of course increase in bulk, and will in due course require 8-inch pots; it must, however, be a point observed, to give them as small pot-room as possible, that the early summer energies of the plant may be arrested.
I have, as it will be seen, pointed out thin-petalled roses for this culture. I do this from observation only, for at this moment I have a bed of the very old Rose Gloire de Rosamène in full bloom, and its flowers, instead of being flaccid and poor, as they are in summer, are globular, from not being expanded, and quite beautiful. I have also observed that some of the condemned new roses growing in the same bed as L'Etoile du Nord have very double flowers and thick petals; these have bloomed very imperfectly.
EVERY cultivator of the rose is well acquainted with the difficulty of having roses in bloom in the 'dark and dreary' month of December. I feel, therefore, much pleasure in giving the result of some experiments ending in perfect success; so that, in future, a bouquet of roses on Christmas-day may grace the festive board in company with the holly, rivalling in brilliancy the colour of its berries.
The Bourbon Rose, Gloire de Rosamène, is now well known by every lover of this favourite flower as a most brilliant and beautiful variety; but, like many other roses remarkable for the brilliancy of their tints, its flowers are deficient in fullness; in fact, they are merely semi-double, and, like all roses of this description, they fade very quickly in hot weather: it is only in the cool cloudy days of autumn, when their flowers never fully expand, that they are seen in perfection. This quality induced me to turn my attention to this variety, as well calculated to give a crop of very late autumnal or winter flowers.
Nothing can be more simple than their management. Towards the end of May, young plants from small pots should be shifted into 6-inch pots, in a good compost of two-thirds loam and one-third rotten manure or decayed leaves, and plunged in sawdust or old tan in the open ground, fully exposed to sun and air. They may be allowed to bloom freely all June and July, but in August and September every blossom-bud should be pinched off; this will make the plants stout and very robust, and towards the end of October an abundant crop of incipient flower-buds will be apparent; the plants may then be removed to a light and airy glazed pit or greenhouse, and placed as near the glass as possible. No fire-heat, unless frost is very severe, should be employed, and abundance of air—they cannot have too much—should be given: it will also be much better to place the pot on slates or on a layer of sand, rather than on a dry wooden shelf. I am induced to recommend sand from the perfect success I have had with my plants, which, after being taken from the bed in which they had been plunged all the summer, were placed on sand: they put forth roots from the bottoms of the pots into the sand, grew luxuriantly all November, and commenced blooming in December. On January 4 I cut a most beautiful bouquet of flowers. I may add, that, if large plants can be procured, they may be potted into 8-inch pots, and in process of time, into 12-inch; so that large bushes covered with flowers may ornament the drawing-room in that month above all others, in which roses are 'rich and rare'—December.
At present I know of only three or four other varieties equal to the above as Christmas roses. These are all varieties with thin petals which in the warm rose-tide of June, soon fade. L'Etoile du Nord is one of the most desirable. This is a new variety, a seedling from General Jacqueminot, which gives its large globular crimson flowers very freely in November and December; their fragrance is then delightful. Triomphe des Beaux Arts and Oriflamme de St. Louis, of the same parentages are also charming winter roses, to which we may add our old favourite General Jacqueminot, which, under the same management, will bloom very nicely. In addition to this valuable quality, I had almost forgotten to add that the flowers of these free-blooming and not very double roses, although almost odourless under the bright sun of June, in winter exhale a delicate and agreeable perfume.
FOR this idea I am indebted to Professor Owen, who, wishing to ornament a wild part of his ground, full of thorns, grass, and weeds, adopted the following plan, which, I am inclined to think, is quite worthy of record.
Large sewer tubes, rejected on account of flaws in the enamel-lining, were sunk vertically in the pure gravelly soil to within an inch or so of the surface, and filled in with loam and manure, and a rose planted in the centre of each. The soil in the tube was kept free from weeds, and the running grass, and other weeds outside were prevented making their way into such good quarters. To give the roses extra vigour, some manure water was given to them occasionally in the summer. The effect of roses growing in the highest state of luxuriance in a wilderness was most charming. The inside diameter of these tubes is 16 inches, their length 30 inches, so that they go below the roots of weeds, which would otherwise soon devour the rich compost in which the roses delight.
Every alternate year in November the tubes should be emptied, filled with fresh compost, and the roses replanted in them.