Transactions of the Horticultural Society of London 170-175 (1822)

XXVI. Account of the Rosa Banksiae, or Lady Banks's Rose. By JOSEPH SABINE, Esq. F. R. S. &c. Secretary. With Notices of the proper Method of Treating it, so as to make it flower in perfection. By Mr. ISAAC OLDAKER, F. H. S.
Read August 15, 1820

THE successful management of the Rosa Banksiae, at Spring Grove, having been the means of more speedily attracting that attention to the plant, which the fragrance of its blossoms and the beauty of its foliage will at all times hereafter command, I have drawn up a general description of the Rose, and such facts relating to the plant itself, as will, I trust, be deemed not unworthy the attention of the Society; and to these I have added the particulars of its treatment, as communicated to me by Mr. OLDAKER.

The flowers are produced in small umbels, each of three, four, six, and frequently even of twelve or more flowers, at the extremity of the small shoots, which proceed from the sides of the branches of the preceding year; their peduncles are about an inch and a half long, smooth and slender, and so weak that the flower hangs downwards, when it is expanded. The germen (tube of the calyx) is semi-globose, the sepals (leaves of the calyx) are short, nearly triangular, and, when open, recurved. The flower, when fully blown, has much the appearance, and is nearly of the size, of a double cherry blossom; it is very double, and well expanded, consisting of a great number of small white petals, with even,regular margins, the inner ones being rather crumpled; the stamina and stiles are not destroyed by the doubleness of the flower, but they are somewhat concealed amongst the petals, giving, by means of their colour, a shade of pink to the centre of each blossom. The scent of the flowers is most agreeable, being exactly like that of the sweetest violet.

The branches are free from aculei; they require support, and when trained against a wall, extend forty feet and more. The surculi, or root shoots, are of extraordinary vigour, growing, in the season, from twelve to fifteen feet in length. The leaves are numerous, of a shining dark green, consisting generally of five (sometimes three) leaflets, which are broadly lanceolate, simply serrated, and smooth; they remain on the plant till the middle of January, and, in mild winters, till March, so that it has almost the character of an evergreen, besides which, it grows all the winter, except in frosty weather. In March the flower-buds shew themselves, and at that time, the whole plant is in a vigorous and rapidly growing state. The flowers expand in April, coming out in succession, through the month of May, and in late seasons continue to be produced to the middle of June.

* Botanical Magazine, 1954. Botanical Register, 397.
Redouté's Roses, vol. 2, page 43.

As figures and accounts of the Rosa Banksiae have been given both in the Botanical Magazine and Botanical Register, as well as in REDOUTÉ'S splendid work on Roses, now publishing at Paris, I shall refer,* for more detailed descriptions of it, to those works.

* Hortus Kewensis, second edition, vol. iii. 258.
M. Thory, who furnishes the descriptions which accompany the figures of Redouté's Roses, has in his observations on the Rosa Banksiae given an instance of his want of knowledge of the situation and history of persons of eminence in England, which will probably excite a smile in all who read this note. He states that "Ce Rosier a été dédié à Lady Bancks, épouse de l'Honorable M. Bancks, l'un des savants de l'expédition du Capitaine Cook." (Les Roses par REDOUTÉ, volume ii. p. 44.)

The first imported plant was sent by Mr. KERR from China, to the Royal Gardens at Kew, in 1807; and on the publication of the second edition of the Hortus Kewensis* it received its name, in compliment to the excellent Lady of Sir JOSEPH BANKS.† This circumstance having caused the plant to be a favourite at Spring Grove, its cultivation became a subject of more particular attention in the garden there; the experiments tried with it were successful, and thus its name has happily been the means of converting what seemed to be an insignificant green-house plant, into a hardy and splendid creeping shrub.

M. BOURSAULT succeeded in making it flower under glass, at Paris, in 1819; he obtained a plant from England in the preceding year, and turned it out of its pot into a border of heath mould, in his conservatory, where it grew to the length of forty feet, and produced a great number of flowers. See REDOUTÉS Roses, above referred to.

The Rosa Banksiae, soon after its introduction, must have produced some flowers, for it is stated in the Hortus Kewensis (the volume in which it is noticed having been published in 1811), that its time of flowering is June and July; this account is founded on a recorded fact; but the circumstance was probably accidental, since the time was not its natural season, and I have never heard of any other instance of its flowering until it first blossomed at Spring Grove.‡ It was usually treated as a green-house plant, and kept in pots, in which state it always looked unhealthy, and was, in appearance, a small weak shrub.

The following are the observations and notes of Mr. OLDAKER, relative to the management of the Rose.

"In the spring of 1813 two plants were turned out into the open ground at Spring Grove, one at the west end of the Pine-stove, the other at the west end of the Peach-house; the following winter being severe, the plant at the end of the Pine-stove was killed by the frost, but it was replaced the following March, and from that time both the plants grew very vigorously, making shoots from twelve to fifteen feet in length each summer. In two years they had covered the sides of both houses with a thick mass of wood and leaves, and the stronger shoots had extended several feet beyond the ends of the houses. In 1818 the branches, which had extended beyond the end of the Pine-stove, were nailed against an adjoining wall, in the manner of a fruit-tree, and in the spring following, the part so nailed was completely covered with flowers, whilst the flower-buds of the part against the house, which remained untrained, was completely destroyed by the wind and cold weather."

"Sir JOSEPH and Lady BANKS were so much pleased with the beauty of the plant, which had been thus successfully treated, that they directed the other plant, which grew next the Peach-house, to be trained, in a similar manner, to a contiguous south wall. For this purpose, I conducted the stem of part of the plant nine feet under the ground, (in order to pass the door of the Peach-House,) to the foot of the wall, cutting away the remainder of the branches, which grew against the Peach-house, to give full strength to what I trained against the wall. This wall being fourteen feet high, and seventeen feet long, was completely covered by the branches in the summer of 1819, some of them extending full forty feet; this vigorous growth and the subsequent production of blossoms, far exceeded all my expectations. In the spring of this year, the plant broke at every eye of the preceding year's wood, each shoot produced at its extremity, an umbel of flowers, which began to open in April, and the whole wall was completely covered with blossoms until the middle of June.

"Before I discovered the proper method of treating it, this Rose, from its early and vigorous growth, had always suffered from the cold winds and frosts to which this country is subject in March and April; this injury, however, I have now ascertained, may be prevented by the following treatment: it should be planted in a rich sandy loam, against a wall exposed to a south or west aspect; its branches must be nailed close to the wall, in the manner usually practised in training Morello Cherries, and when the wall is covered to the extent proposed, all the strong shoots must be cut out as they appear; this will give strength to the remaining branches intended to produce flowers in the succeeding spring, which they will do most freely.

"I also discovered, this season, a method of making small plants of the Rosa Banksiae blow well in pots, after the whole blossom of the trees against the wall had ceased, and as this is likely to be successful, it is without doubt worthy of notice.

"In the beginning of February, I put several small plants of the Rose in pots, on the back bed, in the house in which I forced flowers for Lady BANKS, cutting the plants down to within a few buds of their roots. The heat of the house was from fifty-four to sixty degrees of FAHRENHEIT'S thermometer. The plants made strong shoots, and by the middle of March, their young branches were about eighteen inches long: at this time they were taken out of the flower-house and placed under a Melon-frame, the glasses of which were taken off in the day, and only put on at night, to exclude frosts: no heat being applied to them in this situation, the change of climate operated so as not only to check their growth, but to put them artificially into a state of rest, as in the winter; the young wood having been previously well ripened with the effect of the summer warmth, they broke out into blossom by the end of July, and most of them were completely covered with flowers."

Rosa banksiae Biblio