Flowers and flower-gardens (1855)
David Lester Richardson

Appendix - The Flower Garden in India


The Rose, Rosa, Gul or gulab: as the most universally admired, stands first amongst shrubs. The London catalogues of this beautiful plant contain upwards of two thousand names: Mr. Loudon, in his "Encyclopaedia of Plants" enumerates five hundred and twenty-two, of which he describes three species, viz. Macrophylla, Brunonii, and Moschata Nepalensis, as natives of Nepal; two, viz. Involucrata, and Microphylla, as indigenous to India, and Berberifolia, and Moschata arborea, as of Persian origin, whilst twelve appear to have come from China. Dr. Roxburgh describes the following eleven species as inhabitants of these regions:—

Rosa involucrata, Rosa centifolia,
—— Chinensis, —— glandulifera,
—— semperflorens, —— pubescens,
—— recurva, —— diffusa,
—— microphylla, —— triphylla,
—— inermis,  

most of which, however, he represents to have been of Chinese origin.

The varieties cultivated generally in gardens are, however, all that will be here described.

These are—

* The native market gardeners sell Madras roses at the rate of thirteen young plants for the rupee. Mrs. Gore tells us that in London the most esteemed kinds of old roses are usually sold by nurserymen at fifty shillings a hundred: the first French and other varieties seldom exceed half a guinea a piece.

1. The Madras rose, or Rose Edward, a variety of R. centifolia, Gul ssudburuk, is the most common, and has multiplied so fast within a few years, that no garden is without it; it blossoms all the year round, producing large bunches of buds at the extremities of its shoots of the year; but, if handsome, well-shaped flowers are desired, these must be thinned out on their first appearance, to one or two, or at the most three on each stalk. It is a pretty flower, but has little fragrance. This and the other double sorts require a rich loam rather inclining to clay, and they must be kept moist.*

2. The Bussorah Rose, R. gallica, Gulsooree, red, and white, the latter seldom met with, is one of a species containing an immense number of varieties. The fragrance of this rose is its greatest recommendation, for if not kept down, and constantly looked to, it soon gets straggling, and unsightly; like the preceding species too, the buds issue from the ends of the branches in great clusters, which must be thinned, if well formed fragrant blossoms are desired. The same soil is required as for the preceding, with alternating periods of rest by opening the roots, and of excitement by stimulating manure.

3. The Persian rose, apparently R. collina, Gul eeran bears a very full-petaled blossom, assuming a darker shade as these approach nearer to the centre; but, it is difficult to obtain a perfect flower, the calyx being so apt to burst with excess of fulness, that if perfect flowers are required, a thread should be tied gently round the bud; it has no fragrance. A more sandy soil will suit this kind, with less moisture.

4. The Sweet briar R. rubiginosa, Gul nusreen usturoon, grows to a large size, and blossoms freely in India, but is apt to become straggling, although, if carefully clipped, it may be raised as a hedge the same as in England; it is so universally a favorite as to need no description.

5. The China blush rose, R. Indica (R. Chinensis of Roxburgh), Kut'h gulab, forms a pretty hedge, if carefully clipped, but is chiefly usefully as a stock for grafting on. It has no odour.

6. The China ever-blowing rose, R. damascena of Roxburgh, Adnee gula, gulsurkh, bearing handsome dark crimson blossoms during the whole of the year; it is branching and bushy, but rather delicate, and wants odour.

7. The Moss Rose, R. muscosa, having no native name is found to exist, but has only been known to have once blossomed in India; good plants may be obtained from Hobart Town without much trouble.

8. The Indian dog-rose, R. arvensis, R. involucrata of Roxburgh, Gul bé furman, is found to grow wild in some parts of Nepal and Bengal, as well as in the province of Buhar, flowering in February, the blossoms large, white, and very fragrant; its cultivation extending is improving the blossoms, particularly in causing the petals to be multiplied.

9. The Bramble-flowered rose, R. multiflora, Gul rana, naturally a trailer, may be trained to great advantage, when it will give beautiful bunches of small many-petaled flowers in February and March, of delightful fragrance.

10. The Duc de Herri rose, a variety of R. damascena, but having the petals more rounded and more regular, it is a low rather drooping shrub with delicately small branches.

Propagation.—All the species may be multiplied by seed, by layers, by cuttings, by suckers, or from grafts, almost indiscriminately. Layering is the easiest, and most certain mode of propagating this most beautiful shrub.

The roots that branch out and throw up distinct shoots may be divided, or cut off from the main root, and even an eye thus taken off may be made to produce a good plant.

Suckers, when they have pushed through the soil, may be taken up by digging down, and gently detaching them from the roots.

Grafting or budding is used for the more delicate kinds, especially the sweet briar, and, by the curious, to produce two or more varieties on one stem, the best stocks being obtained from the China, or the Dog Rose.

Soil &e.—Any good loamy garden soil without much sand, suits the rose, but to produce it in perfection the ground can hardly be too rich.

Culture.—Immediately at the close of the rains, the branches of most kinds of roses, especially the double ones, should be cut down to not more than six inches in length, removing at the same time, all old and decayed wood, as well as all stools that have branched out from the main one, and which will form new plants; the knife being at the same time freely exercised in the removal of sickly and crowded fibres from the roots; these should likewise be laid open, cleaned and pruned, and allowed to remain exposed until blossom buds begin to appear at the end of the first shoots; the hole must then be filled with good strong stable manure, and slightly earthed over. About a month after, a basket of stable dung, with the litter, should be heaped up round the stems, and broken brick or turf placed over it to relieve the unsightly appearance.

While flowering, too, it will be well to water with liquid manure at least once a week. If it be desired to continue the trees in blossom, each shoot should be removed as soon as it has ceased flowering. To secure full large blossoms, all the buds from a shoot should be cut off, when quite young, except one.

The Sweet briar rose strikes its root low, and prefers shade, the best soil being a deep rich loam with very little sand, rather strong than otherwise; it will be well to place a heap of manure round the stem, above ground, covering over with turf, but it is not requisite to open the roots, or give them so much manure as for other varieties. The sweet briar must not be much pruned, overgrowth being checked rather by pinching the young shoots, or it will not blossom, and it is rather slower in throwing out shoots than other roses. In this country the best mode of multiplying this shrub is by grafting on a China rose stock, as layers do not strike freely, and cuttings cannot be made to root at all.

The Bramble-flowered rose is a climber, and though not needing so strong a soil as other kinds, requires it to be rich, and frequently renewed, by taking away the soil from about the roots and supplying its place with a good compost of loam, leaf mould, and from the cold wind from the North, or West; this, however, if carefully trained, they will form for themselves; but until they do so, it is impossible to make them blossom freely; the higher branches should be allowed to droop, and if growing luxuriantly, with the shoots not shortened, they will the following season, produce bunches of flowers at the end of every one, and have a very beautiful effect; no pruning should be given, except what is just enough to keep the plants within bounds, as they invariably suffer from the use of the knife. This rose is easily propagated by cuttings or layers, both of which root readily.

* I may add to Mr. Speede's list of Roses the Banksian Rose. The flowers are yellow, in clusters, and scentless. Mrs. Gore says it was imported into England from the Calcutta Botanical Garden; it is called Wong-moueheong. There is another rose also called the Banksian Rose extremely small, very double, white; expanding from March till May; highly scented with violets. The Rosa Brownii was brought from Nepaul by Dr. Wallich. A very sweet rose has been brought into Bengal from England. It is called Rosa Peeliana after the original importer Sir Lawrence Peel. It is a hybrid. I believe it is a tea-scented rose and is probably a cross between one of that sort and a common China rose; but this is mere conjecture. The varieties of the tea rose are now cultivated by Indian malees with great success. They sell at the price of from eight annas to a rupee each. A variety of the Bengal yellow rose, is now comparatively common. It fetches from one to three rupees, each root. It is known to the native gardeners by the English name of "Yellow Rose." Amongst the flowers introduced here since Mr. Speede's book appeared, is the beautiful blue heliotrope which the natives call kala heliotrope.

The China rose thrives almost anywhere, but is best in a soil of loam and peat, a moderate supply of water being given daily during the hot weather. They will require frequent thinning out of the branches; and are propagated by cuttings, which strike freely.*

As before mentioned, Rose trees look well in a parterre by themselves, but a few may be dispersed along the borders of the garden.

Insects, &c. The green, and the black plant louse are great enemies to the rose tree, and, whenever they appear, it is advisable to cut out at once the shoot attacked; the green caterpillar too, often makes skeletons of the leaves in a short time; the ladybird, as it is commonly called, is an useful insect, and worthy of encouragement, as it is a destroyer of the plant louse.

Rose lists