The Cottage Gardener 6: 239-240 (July 17, 1851)
Donald Beaton


Of all the roses which I left unpruned last winter, and which turned out so well, I think Barron Prevost, Mrs. Elliot, the Duchess of Sutherland, and Fulgore are the best. No one could make out any difference in most of the flowers of Fulgore, before they were quite expanded, from those of the old Cabbage-rose, and they were fully as sweet. It is an old variety of the new breed of hybrid perpetuals; the habit of it is very bad indeed, and it does worse on the dog-rose than on its own roots. It always makes one or two good shoots at the expense of all the rest; and sometimes, when you prune it close, it either dies outright, or gets so irregular in the head that no one can bear to see it. Like the Gloire de Rosamene it does best on its own roots; and, with all its faults of habit, no one who has ever admired the old cabbage-rose—the best of them all—should be without it. In October, and as long as the frost will allow it, you may cut abundance of roses as good and as sweet from Fulgore as any one can get in June. It is also the only rose I know of that will grow well for more than a few years on the Ayrshire roses, such as Ruga. I have had it now eight years on three climbers of the Ayrshire breed, and doing as well as I could desire; and I am strongly of opinion that it should not be worked on the dog-rose at all; and I am also of opinion, that having had the same attention as to summer-pruning as the climbers on which it is budded has had some influence on it, and caused it to do better than if it had been treated in the usual way of dwarf roses. At any rate, one thing is quite certain, which is, that this, the sweetest and the latest-flowering of our perpetual bloomers, will bud and do well on a class of popular climbing roses, on which no other rose will live more than a few years. Barron Prevost is certainly the most splendid rose, and the largest we have of all the perpetuals; under the plan of not pruning it in winter, the size of the flowers, with me, was immense. Comte de Montalivet has a larger and wider face than the Barron, but then it is only a very thin rose, semi-double as it is termed, and is best to be looked at from a little distance; it will not bear a close inspection. Nevertheless, from its enormous size, and having a tint which is rare in roses, it should be grown in quantities, as we do the Gloire de Rosamene. It is the only those I know which hides its only fault, that is, its want of doubleness: instead of opening a full face like Gloire de Rosamene, and showing the "evil eye," the petals actually fold inwards towards the eye, and hide it completely; and you might suppose, at a little distance from it, that you saw the largest and the most double rose in England, when, if this Comte opened back like other roses, it would look as much like a half-double hollyhock as anything else I can think of. Mrs. Elliot should certainly never be close pruned. It made shoots more than four feet long with me last year, the very top buds of which produced the finest sample of the variety I ever saw. This, and William Jesse, looked as if they were varnished with that rich metallic lustre which they alone, of all the roses, exhibit in the most perfect degree. La Reine never does well on our light soil; and on the no-pruning system it was worse than before. Prince Albert, with Earl Talbot, and two or three other fine roses which require a very favourable season to open them finely with us here, did not answer better by not being pruned. Therefore, I am led to this conclusion, with respect to the experiment—as far as it has gone — that it does not help natural defects in a rose, unless, indeed, it may turn out this autumn that the shy openers may unfold themselves more freely under the next stage of the experiment, which I last week promised to allude to; but before I do so, and whilst I think of it, I must tell how I managed to make a hedge of perpetual roses without laying down a regular foundation for one.

Ever since our hedges of the Gloire de Rosamene began to draw the attention of visitors to that style of exhibiting them in pleasure-grounds, my worthy employers were desirous that others, including the Moss and old Cabbage roses, should be tried in hedges also; and I am not very sure that this earnest request was not at the bottom of my experiment of not pruning in winter: at all events, it has ended in part of the trial. Four years since I planted one or two specimens of all our best roses in a row, from the door of my cottage down in front of a peach-border, and only eighteen inches from the side of the walk. They were all budded on six-inch stocks of the Boursault, the best stock for our light land, were it not the bother it gives one to keep down suckers. These were intended to "kill two birds with one stone;" first, for cut flowers; and, when they got too large and encroached on the walk, to be potted for forcing, or to be sent to the "rosary," full-grown, and still in the prime of youth. Well, as soon as the experiment of letting a great number of roses go unpruned was determined on, this row in front of my house was fixed on to make a hedge of at once, and such a hedge I never saw before. Without any romance, it was literally hung with roses as you would see onions tied on ropes for a country fair. Last winter the row was turned into a hedge in two days; a row of stakes were set a yard or so apart down the middle of the row, and then straight hazel rods put in horizontally and tied to the upright stakes; the unpruned shoots of the roses were trained at full length, right and left, against the rods, and the whole was kept as low as we could, so as not to shade the peach border too much. It is only a little better than a yard high, and shall be kept to that height. Now to do this properly, will explain what I mean to do with all the unpruned roses for the rest of the season. We have trained raspberry canes in various ways time out of mind, some upright, some slanting to one side, and others arched over between stool and stool; and as soon as the crop was over, in my younger days, the canes which produced it were cut out, no matter how green their leaves might be at the time; this was told me to be for letting in more light and air to the canes which were to bear next year, and that cutting away the bearing canes as above would give all the benefit of the roots to those for the next year's bearing. But whether all this was right or wrong, or partly both ways, is not for me to say. Mr. Errington must know all about it, and can explain it better than is necessary for me to try on this occasion. But I well recollect that under that system, for years and years, I used to see the best crops of raspberries; and, therefore, I intend to try the same plan with these roses, with only a little variation. Indeed, I am doing so just now, and I think it will answer capitally. The raspberry canes were allowed to ripen the fruit, and no more; the rose shoots will be allowed only time to ripen their flowers, and not even that in some cases; for I see that as soon as the top rose on a long shoot is full blown, and so will not allow the shoot to extend any more in that direction, the eyes on the bare part of this shoot begin to grow away in earnest, and exhibit that impatience at restraint which caused people to give up the plan of training down roses in the rose beds. Now there is a philosophical knot on this shoot, just between the flower-bearing top part and that portion of it just breaking into new shoots, which, if I had the necessary time to discuss, I should like very much to cut, if only half-way through, as they do for layering rose shoots; as it is, I must be content with saying, that throughout the season, that is, through July, August, and September, the flowering shoots will be cut down from time to time, as the first roses on them are past their best, without waiting for all the buds on every little side shoot to open. Some early-flowering shoots that have been so cut at the very end of June, are now in bloom from the next succession of shoots from below; and if all the eyes, down to the very bottom of the last year's wood, do not break out into flowering branches at this first succession, the shoots will be cut down in August still lower, and then be in the same shape as they would have been at a winter pruning; that is, in effect, but not so in reality, as the shoots on any given plant are not to be all cut down at one time, but in succession. If this system does not injure the plants in the long run, and I do not think it will if the plants are kept well fed, the advantages I expect from it are flowers a week or ten days earlier in May, and four times as many flowers, at least, from the same plants in the course of one season. I think I can see conclusively, through this experiment, the utter folly and the unscientific bearing of the common practice of pruning roses in the spring in our climate, at least; and not only roses, but all other bushes or trees which cast their leaves in the autumn. As soon as the leaves are down is the proper time to prune, except in special cases; and such cases do occur every season, and on both sides of what may be called the meridian time in pruning. On this side of the line, we all know that weak growing trees, or other plants, can be improved both in health and vigour by being pruned six weeks before the fall of the leaf, as had been long since proved on scientific grounds by Mr. Knight, and Mr. Williams, of Pitmaston, in the case of some fruit trees; and on the other side of the line, we are equally certain that it is right to put off the pruning season of some fruit and flowering plants, roses among the rest, till late in the spring; still, such exceptional cases do not weaken the general rule, or the principle of the practice.


It may be interesting to the lovers of fine evergreen trees to hear that His Royal Highness Prince Albert planted the largest saleable plant in England, of the Chilian Arbor-vitae (Libocedrus Chilensis), in the gardens here, to commemorate his first visit to Shrubland Park ; that this noble evergreen tree attains the height of from 60 to 100 feet on the Andes of Chili; and that, although it has been known to botanists for some time, from the accounts of travellers and dried specimens, and also with Libocedrus tetragona, as the celebrated Alerce of Chili, so much valued for the excellence of its timber, it was only last season that the first seeds of it were procured in quantity by Mr. Low, nurseryman, at Clapton, near London—the only importer of it—and that through the exertions of a once Suffolk gardener, Mr. Thomas Bridges, to whose memory Sir W. Hooker dedicated the genus Bridgesia. It thus turns out, singularly enough, that the first plant from these seeds should be planted in Mr. Bridges' native county; and that, too, by the most distinguished patron of science in this or in any other country. Mr. Bridges advises that this splendid tree should be planted over u dry bottom, and I can vouch for that condition having been fulfilled here to the letter. He also advises that very young plants of it should be slightly protected for the first winter or two, and, of course, we shall attend to his instructions. But Mr. Lindley and Sir W. Hooker agree in considering it as hardy as the Araucaria imbricata from the same country. Mr. Lindley, writing on this and the other Chilian Spruce, Libocedrus tetragona, says of them:— "No doubt they are among the finest Conifers in the world." After planting the Chilian Libocedar under the royal standard, which waved over our heads from the summit of the Albert Tower, a recent pile erected from the designs of Mr. Barry, His Royal Highness opened a conversation on the recent divisions into which the Conifers have been arranged by Endlicher and other botanists, and evinced such a thorough knowledge of the different sections as surprised even an old gardener, to say nothing of the workman-like manner in which he handled the silver-mounted spade in the act of planting this fine tree, a biography of which had been prepared for his perusal. It turned out that His Royal Highness had little need of such aid respecting any of the recently-introduced trees to this country. A gentleman present—having expressed a wish that His Royal Highness might live to see the tree he had planted rear its head as high as the top of the flag-staff close by, he immediately instanced, in reply, the rapid growth of several species of Cypresses, and, among the rest, an avenue of Cypress near the city of Mexico, where some of the trees have attained the enormous height of nearly 300 feet. Altogether His Royal Highness's remarks, conversation, and questions about our craft, have put some of us here to the blush; and I only wish that I could say or write in the same strain, so as to induce our rising race of gardeners to study, more than they usually do, the geography of the plants they cultivate, and also their botanical arrangement, according to the best authors. Depend upon it, a young gardener has only put his foot on the first step of the ladder when he has received his gold medal for a collection of well-grown specimens.

Beaton Bibliography