Jour of Hort Soc
Lond 5: 70-73 (1850)
By John Saul
Durdham Down Nursery, Bristol.
(Communicated November 24, 1849.)
AT no period perhaps in the history of gardening have roses been cultivated to such an extent as they are at the present day: formerly the nurserymen grew them by hundreds, or it may be with a few, and these very few, by one or two thousands, which, of course, was considered to be an immense number. But now they are not grown by hundreds, but by hundreds of thousands, in the large nurseries of this country; and contemporary with their extended cultivation has been the rapid improvement in their flowers. Formerly we had roses in June, now we have them not in June or July only, but in September, October, and down to December, when in vain they struggle against the wintry blast: these are equal, indeed I may say superior, to June roses in every point which constitutes a beautiful and fragrant flower. A good Yellow is, however, yet wanted, as well as White Perpetuals, some good Mosses, and one or two of other colours to make them perfect. We certainly have Perpetual Mosses, but they are not good flowers, with the exception of one, and that is a bad grower—so bad that I would recommend no amateur to purchase it; those who have tried it have in general been disappointed with it.
My object on the present occasion, however, is to draw attention to the different kinds of stocks upon which roses are generally worked in the nurseries—a point of no little importance when we consider that upon the stock much of the future wellbeing of the plant depends. In the 'Theory of Horticulture' we are told that "mere propagation is by no means the only object of the grafter [substitute budder]. Another and still more important one is to secure a permanent union between the scion and stock, so that the new plant may grow as freely and as long as if it were on its own bottom under the most favourable circumstances. If this is not attended to, the hopes of the cultivator will be frustrated by the early death of his plant." This is perfectly true of roses. Many cultivators take strong, vigorous stocks, such as Crimson Boursault, Celine, and others, and work on them the delicate Bourbons, Chinas, Teas, &c.; for, say they, "the stocks are vigorous and free growers. See what an amount of root they possess! look at their lungs and stomach, in the form of leaves, to carry on respiration and digestion freely! how rapidly they assimilate the food which is transmitted to them by such powerful feeders!" And upon such stocks are budded delicate roses. During the first year all goes on well; the stock having been in vigorous health when headed back, the bud is pushed out strongly, and in general many of the sorts I have named will bloom profusely the first season. But will this continue? It will if the variety is a free grower; but should the contrary be the case, it will go back even more rapidly than it progressed. This is, theoretically, what we might expect, and practice amply confirms the hypothesis. The lungs so much talked about are cut off with the heading back of the stock: the plant, with its thin, small, delicate leaves, has now to digest and assimilate all the gross food forced into them by such a mass of coarse and abundant feeders; the leaves are gorged to such an extent as to impede their healthy action; respiration and digestion go on slowly; and this continues to increase until all the functions of the plant are totally suspended, and death puts an end to its existence. I have frequently heard complaints made respecting the loss of valuable Tea and other roses, which have been purchased, it may be, at considerable expense, and surprise has been expressed at their early death; but if people would only examine the stocks on which the plants were worked, the fact of their living so long would be more a matter to be wondered at.
The Dog-rose (Rosa canina) is the kind of stock which is so extensively employed for roses in the nurseries of this country. It is almost exclusively used for standards and half-standards, and to an unlimited extent for dwarfs. All things considered, it is greatly superior to every other stock: with the exception of a few, which shall be hereafter noticed, most classes will grow well upon it. Provins, Gallica, Moss, Hybrid Provins, Alba, Hybrid China, Hybrid Bourbon, Damask, Austrian, Damask Perpetual, Hybrid Perpetual, with many of the free-growing Bourbon and Noisette kinds, will grow vigorously upon it. Many of the delicate varieties in the two latter classes, as well as a few sorts scattered through the others, will, however, not succeed upon this stock; but they are scarcely worth mentioning.
The Manettii stock claims attention next: it stands at the head of all cultivated stocks (not, of course, including the above), and is very superior to the Crimson Boursault, Celine, &c. Its good properties consist in its free, vigorous, and continuous growth; in this latter property it is superior to every other stock, continuing to grow until it is stopped by the winter's cold; it also ripens its wood well, becomes hard, firm, not subject to decay, nor are the shoots gross and pithy. On dry, warm, or sandy soils it is the best of all stocks: I have also seen it succeed well on stiff soils not over wet: it is the best of all stocks for Hybrid Perpetuals, and they force well upon it. It suits Bourbons and Noisettes equally well, and many of the dwarf and delicate varieties of these classes which will not succeed upon the Dog-rose will grow admirably upon this. Teas and Chines will grow better and live much longer upon it than on either the Crimson Boursault or Celine. I must not, however, be understood to say that no Teas or Chinas will succeed on the latter stocks; some of the free-growing kinds will do on it, and exist for a considerable time, but they would do better on the Manettii. Many delicate Teas and Chinas, which will live only a year or two on Crimson Boursault and Celine, will thrive pretty well upon the Manettii; but they are much better worked upon the Rosa indica (common Monthly), or grown upon their own roots. This stock strikes as freely from cuttings as a willow. It was introduced from Italy by Mr. Rivers, and is worthy of the extensive cultivation he has given it.
The Crimson Boursault stock should be used with caution. I am aware that some growers speak highly of it, and have used it extensively; but it is nothing more than a good nurseryman's stock, namely, one on which delicate roses will grow beautifully for a time, but on which they will soon perish. Many strong-growing Perpetuals, Bourbons, Noisettes, &c., will grow well upon it, though not so well or so long as on the foregoing. This stock is softer, more subject to decay, and, in every point worth considering, inferior to the Manettii: it should, consequently, give way to the latter. For the beautiful and delicate varieties of Per petuals, Bourbons, Noisettes, Teas, &c., it is infinitely inferior to Manettii, and should never be used where the latter stock can be obtained.
Some few years back nurserymen were in the habit of growing peaches on what is called the Brompton Plum stock, a very free growing variety, on which the peach grew beautifully for a season, but in many instances they had commenced decaying before they left the nursery: very few respectable nurserymen grow this stock now. The Crimson Boursault occupies the same place as a rose-stock which the Brompton Plum does as regards the peach. Gardeners who would object to have their peaches worked upon the latter stock, should pause and consider what sorts of roses they would have worked upon the other.
Celine is a very vigorous growing Hybrid China. Mr. Rivers considers it to be the best stock for the Cloth of Gold, and it suits many others equally well. In a general way it may be used for the same purposes and the same classes of roses as the Crimson Boursault and Manettii: it is very inferior to the latter, which must take precedence of all.
Duc Decazes is a vigorous growing Hybrid Bourbon, having many good qualities to recommend it, namely, free growth, firmness, and solidity of wood. I have seen Bourbons, Chinas, and many Teas and Noisettes succeed admirably on it.
Rosa indica, or Monthly, I have already noticed. This is suitable for delicate Teas, Chinas, &c.; and if they were more extensively cultivated on this or on their own roots, amateurs would not have so frequently to lament their losses.
Blush and other Boursaults I notice merely in order to caution growers against using them: they are at all times extremely subject to mildew, and when worked are liable to decay; indeed they but seldom grow well.
The old rose, Ornement de Parade, is sometimes employed as a stock in nurseries; it has very little to recommend it, consequently the sooner its cultivation for that purpose is discontinued the better.
I have offered these few remarks on Rose stocks with the view of drawing attention to the subject, because of the indiscriminate manner in which stocks are used for Roses. If we could but induce our great rose-growers to give us the result of their experience, a correct knowledge of this favourite flower would be speedily diffused, and those mistakes (the unsuitability of stocks) put an end to.