The Garden, 17: 502-505 (June 5, 1880)
C. M. Hovey

Mr. Ellwanger's paper on American Roses read at a meeting of the Western New York Horticultural Society, and published in The Garden (p. 397), has induced Mr. Hovey to send us a further and perhaps still more complete account of them, which his long experience of them and acquaintance with their history well qualifies him to do.

The cultivation and production of seedling Roses in America (says Mr. Hovey) has been very much greater than many suppose. In fact, I have been astonished myself in looking over the volumes of the "Magazine of Horticulture," for the first time for some years, to find how extensively Rose culture was carried on many years gone by. I find the names of many who raised fine seedling Roses, and the names of Roses several of which have passed out of cultivation, and others still very popular; and I have made the following list of names of gardeners and amateurs who have grown the more popular sorts, somewhat in the order of their production. It is curious to notice that many of them are Scotch, English, French, and German gardeners, who came to America in the early part of the present century, and to whom we are indebted for much of our rapid advancement in horticulture: among gardeners and nurserymen we have Philippe Noisette, Samuel Feast, J. Pierce, R. Buist, J. Sherwood, D. Boll, Mackenzie, Buchanan, J. Pentland, A. Burgess, G. Cartwright, A. Koch, and others; and among amateurs — Mr. Harrison, J. Champney, Mrs. N. Herbemont, Geo. C. Thorburn, Prof. C. G. Page, Rev. J. M. Sprunt, and J. P. Waddell. The Roses raised by these cultivators have all been described in the "Magazine" (except those of M. Noisette) at the date of their introduction, and your readers have only to refer to its vols, to find the original descriptions. In Vol. iii. Mr. Buist gave an account of his mode of raising seedling Roses; and in the same volume, M. Boll, at my request, for he was a true friend, communicated his mode of raising seedling Roses: certainly quite different from the generally received opinion, and more complete than anything I had ever read up to that time; for it was the general impression that Rose seeds did not readily vegetate, and required two or more years to show their flowers, while by M. Boll's method they flowered in from four to six months from the time of sowing the seeds. In Vols. xxiv. and xxvi.. Professor Page, of Washington, D.C., kindly contributed eight articles, covering forty pages, on the culture, hybridisation, and growth of seedling Roses, with an account of his seedlings. Certainly one of the oldest and most valuable of American Roses is not even mentioned in Mr. Ellwanger's paper; this is the famous Harrisoni, the best yellow, next to the Persian, and which was raised by a retired sea captain in New York about 1830, and first noticed by me in 1837. Mr. Harrison was a near neighbour of M. Boll's, whose nursery I often visited. In 1848 I called to see M. Boll and looked at his Roses, and I was so much pleased with them that I wished to purchase some of his seedlings as soon as ready; but he replied to my wishes with the remark that he should not sell them in this country, as he could do a great deal better in France. I knew one of his Roses to have been secured only by importation; and I stated subsequently in the "Magazine of Horticulture" (Vol. xxiii., p. 264) that M. Boll had sent his seedlings to France, as he had informed me at the above period. I know of no information that he did so, only from his statement to me and its publication in the "Magazine."

And first, I ought not to pass by M. Philippe Noisette, the brother of M. Louis Noisette, the well-known French horticultural writer, who settled in Charleston, as a nurseryman, and there produced the Rose which is the parent of all that is grand and regal, and, as the French say, magnifique, among Roses, La Marechal Niel. This was the Rosa Noisettiana, so named in Redouté's splendid work on Roses, where it is beautifully illustrated, and due credit given to M. Noisette for the origination of this splendid tribe. It was an accidental hybrid between the old Musk Rose and the China, was raised in 1817, and sent to his brother in Paris in 1818, in whose nursery it flowered, and where Redouté made his painting of the Rose, which he published in 1820 with a full description, and where he speaks in glowing terms of this grand acquisition, which had proved hardy in France. And here I must say the thanks — and I might add, the homage — of every lover of beautiful Roses, are due to M. Pradel for this most superb of all Noisette Roses, and which I fear will never be surpassed, unless it is in securing an erect stem. I never pass beneath a huge specimen, 50 ft. long, covering half of a large house, but I involuntarily make my bow to this great, grand Rose, 6 in. or 8 in. in diameter; I cut one to-day, as deep in its golden petals as the flash of the setting sun. It is something for us to be proud of — viz., this early progress in Rose culture, and the origination of the Noisette Rose, whose descendant we so highly prize: truly a veritable Franco-American, fit representative of the houses of Lafayette and Washington, the skill of Frenchmen, and the energy of Americans — the polished culture of centuries, the rough homeliness of Rivières amid the savage tribes of a new continent, and surrounded by barbarian customs. The Champney Rose or Champney's Blush was for a long time a favourite variety, but I have been unable to find any reliable account of its production. It was in all our catalogues until the Prairie Roses, by their hardiness, drove it out of cultivation. Mr. Champney, I believe, resided in Charleston, and his Rose was an accidental Hybrid, supposed to be between the China and Musk. It is now only to be found in the gardens in the Southern States. It is enumerated in my catalogue of Roses from 1845 to 1854. Of Mr. Harrison, the raiser of Harrisoni, our most valuable hardy yellow Rose, it is only necessary to say it has not been equalled, and he must stand among the few who have given us entirely new creations. This quartette of Rose growers. Noisette, Harrison, Feast, and Pierce, have brought their names in the most pleasant association with all Rose growers; for Messrs. Feast and Pierce have enriched our gardens with the only hardy and exquisitely beautiful climbing Roses that will grow freely and bloom profusely in our cold climate; for the Ayrshires, and all others except the old Russelliana and the poor Boursault, are tender, and comparatively worthless.

Mr. Samuel Feast, of Baltimore, the pioneer in the culture of our native or wild Primrose, deservedly holds a prominent place among our Rosariaus; for to him everybody who wishes a free-growing, entirely hardy, and beautiful running Rose must be indebted. His first was his best, and the best of all that have yet been raised. This was what was then called Beauty of the Prairies (1839), but afterwards Queen of the Prairies (1844). It is a most rampant grower, hardy to the very tips of the shoots in the coldest winters, as large and double as the Gallica Rose, and blooms just as the June Roses are about done, and produces clusters of ten to thirty flowers, which retain their cupped and handsome shape under the hottest July sun. For this and his other Roses, the Massachusetts Horticultural Society in 1846 awarded Mr. Feast their gold medal in recognition of his valuable labours in the production of seedling Prairies. But if Mr. Feast led off, Mr. Pierce followed with equal success. His Roses were such a very remarkable lot of one batch of seedlings that I must digress a little, as I had the very great pleasure of naming and introducing them. In the summer or autumn of 1843 I visited Mr. Pierce in Washington, D.C., and he showed me his plants, not then in flower, and I spoke of their great beauty. I could hardly believe what he stated, and, seeing my doubts, he said to me: "I have duplicate plants, and I will send you one of each. If they do not prove to be beautiful throw them away; if they do prove to be worthy of cultivation, give them any names you please, and distribute them when you like." Such was the generous nature of Mr. Pierce.

But of this valuable class par excellence of American Roses to us — and I hope to your gardens too — I must add something more. Mr. Pierce's Roses were the result of accidental fertilisation, as I believe were Mr. Feast's also. It was a few years previous to their introduction that Mr. Pierce sent me an article for the "Magazine," recommending the culture of the Prairie Rose for hedges in the North, as the Cherokee Rose (R. laevigata) is used in the South — a very excellent paper, in which he stated his experience, the ease with which they were raised, and their importance, saying he was surprised to find among his bed of seedlings many beautiful double varieties. Mr. Pierce was an enthusiast in his appreciation of the Prairie Roses. After describing the native Tennessee Prairie, or Michigan Rose, he says: — "Having raised a small lot from seed four years ago, for the purpose of stocks, I was not a little surprised to find the third year that I had amongst them twelve fine varieties of double Roses, all partaking, as to hardiness, luxuriance of growth, and abundance of bloom, of the character of the parent; they are all runners, and bloom in clusters. This Rose — for ages in existence, and spread for thousands of miles in extent, which has not produced one double offspring, so far as we can learn — is now destined to become, by being brought in contact with other varieties, the parent of a class of Roses equal to the choicest productions of our gardens. None of mine have yet shown a disposition to become monthly or perpetual; but I understand Mr. S. Feast, of Baltimore, has produced some that are perpetual. How desirable it would be to have a class of perpetual climbing cluster Roses sufficiently hardy to stand the frosts of our winters, and take the place of the Musk, the Noisette, the Champney, and others, which form such beautiful ornaments of our grounds, but which are with such difficulty protected even so far south as here at Washington."

As your great Rosarian has said, we now make our bow, not to Catherine Mermet, but to an American lady who has earned a wide reputation for her grand productions. This was Mrs. N. Herbemont, of Columbia, S.C., who raised, about 1830, the once famous Herbemont Musk Cluster and Herbemont's Grandiflora, the parents on one side of Mr. Feast's and Mr. Pierce's Prairies, and without which, perhaps, we should never have had those grand acquisitions. They were, up to within a few years, most extensively cultivated at the South, where they grew 8 ft. to 10 ft. high, and often produced seventy-five or more flowers in one cluster, deliciously fragrant. This lady also raised a very large white Rose, very double, tall grower, and perpetual bloomer, but it could not be propagated, so it was said. M. Boll was an enthusiastic Frenchman and great lover of Roses. In a notice of his collection I made the remark in 1837 that the "seedling Roses are all of them in the possession of M. Boll," upwards of 100 in number. In the same year he described his seedling Pretty American as the smallest of all Roses, and stated he had "150 seedlings, all of which had flowered within the past two years." In 1847 he was awarded a prize by the New York Agricultural Association for a fine display of seedling Roses; but they were never distributed or sold here, neither were they named. Mr. Buist, the well-known nurseryman of Philadephia, raised several fine seedlings of Bengal, or Noisettes, and tried his hand at the Prairies, but, beginning with the old Elegans or Kentucky Multiflora, a poor semi-double variety, I presume he did not succeed, as I never heard of any fine kinds of his growth.

Following these in 1837, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society awarded the prize for the best seedling Rose to Mackenzie & Buchanan; and in 1839 Mr. Drybush was awarded the prize "for the best American seedling Rose, a very fine dark red," by the same society. In the same year, Mr. T. P. Green, of Charleston, received a silver medal for his Rose Golconda, a splendid variety of running Rose. Mr. J. F. Michel, of the same city, was accorded a medal for his beautiful seedling La Belle Huguenot. Mr. T. Hogg, of New York, brought out his seedling yellow Roses, from Harrisoni, but not so good. In 1840 Mr. J. Sherwood, Philadelphia, exhibited his seedling Sherwoodi. I saw this in 1841 at Mr. Sherwood's grounds, and described it "as equal to the old Cabbage Rose, but quite different in colour, being as brilliant in colour as Verbena Melindres." The plants were sold at 5 dollars each. This year Mr. A. Suter, of Washington, exhibited his seedlings, Susanna, Pink Noisette, Yellow Centre, and Pocahontas. Again, in 1844, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society awarded a prize to Mr. Kilvington for the best ever-blooming seedling. It is described as one of the largest Roses, the bud before expansion measuring 3 in. in length, a Tea, and very double. He named it, in honour of our distinguished statesman, Henry Clay. It was this year that Mr. Feast sent me cut flowers of all his Prairie Roses (five in number) accompanied by the following note: — " Perceiving that some difficulty exists in the nomenclature of some of my Prairie Roses, I now send you a few specimens, with the anticipation that you may set the matter right through the columns of your magazine." — Their correct names, with descriptions, were published. Mr. Rache, of Philadelphia, exhibited a fine seedling raised from Reine de Lombardy.

In 1848, Mr. J. P. Waddell, of Athens, Georgia, wrote me as follows: — "But the Rose — the Rose is my passion. I have succeeded in raising two from seed which are worthy of preservation; one is, I know, a seedling from the hybrid Remontant Madame Laffay, larger, and rather duller in colour; the other is a cluster Rose, not a climber. They blossomed for the first time last May. I find that it was not until 1857 that more attention was turned to the Rose. At this time Mr. Pentland, of Baltimore, brought out his Beauty of Greenmont and Woodland Margaret, two Noisettes; and Mr. Koch, of the same city, Cornelia Koch, called now Cornelia Cook, a seedling from Devoniensis. Mr. George C. Thorburn also raised one he called Combatant, which from his description I think is the same as the President. It was the same year that Isabella Gray was brought to notice, though it had been sent to England two years before. This and the Augusta, a seedling from Solfaterre, made quite a stir among Rose growers; but though fine Roses, they have mostly disappeared from cultivation. Professor Page's Roses, General Washington, Cinderella, and America, were introduced in 1857; and also George Peabody, a fine Bourbon raised by Mr. Pentland. I think it was in 1860 that I visited Mr. Buchanan at Astoria, when he showed me a beautiful yellow Rose which he prized very highly, called Isabella Sprunt; he said he received it from a friend in the South. As I was looking at the Rose, as a Rose and not as a bud for florists, I did not see its beauty compared with many of the lovely French Teas; but Mr. Buchanan spoke from a commercial view. The remaining kinds that I know anything of are few. I think it was about 1865 that I visited Mr. A. Burgess, of East New York, who described to me his new seedling Prairie Rose, which he said was a hybrid from Queen of the Prairies and Madame Laffay, very fragrant, and as beautiful as the former, as the odourless Queen was sometimes rejected for her want of fragrance. I thought it would be a grand acquisition, and so did Mr. B., for he set his price high. It was, however, purchased and sold by Mr. P. Henderson, of New York. Peerless is the name of a Rose raised around New York, which was quite prominent for a year or two — a rapid-504-growing plant, flowering in clusters, quite bright and showy, but of no great value now. And last, I come to two peculiar sports, one called the American Banner (I don't like the name), a sport found by Mr. George Cartwright, of Dedham, Mass., about three years ago on the Bon Silene, being just like the parent in every way, except that every flower is beautifully striped. If it was a large and full Rose, it would be decidedly valuable, but it is only in the bud that it is conspicuous. Another is what may he called a double sport, being nothing less than a sport from Isabella Sprunt, which was a sport found by Mr. J. Tailby, of Wellesley. Its peculiarity is its foliage, which is glaucous beneath; the flower varies but very little from that of Isabella Sprunt. [probably Eliza Tailby]

I have thus summarized the progress of Rose culture for nearly half a century, very little of it from memory, but mainly from records made at the time of introduction. Besides, in 1846 I first issued a catalogue of Roses which enumerated 800 varieties. I have it now before me, and I find many of the seedlings I have named above fully described, and plants offered for sale at that early date. With this long introduction I now give a list of the American Roses under their respective classes, reference being now and then made to the volumes of the "Magazine of Horticulture," where full descriptions and details may be found by all interested in Rose lore. For ready convenience they are arranged alphabetically, with the raiser's name, and date.


† Feast's Rosa setigera specimens were raised from seed sent to him from Ohio. Pierce started with plants growing in D.C., but originally from Tennessee.
    I think it is reasonable to extrapolate from this bit of info, and suggest that Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York could produce hardier selections of R. setigera.

Mr Pierce's Roses† are not quite so hardy as those of Mr. Feast; in very severe winters the strong shoots get killed part-way down.


The Noisette Roses (Originated by Philippe Noisette in 1817).— The parent of all the Noisettes; "Redoute's Roses," vol. ix., 32nd livraison.

Mr. Young, of New Bedford, Mass., raised a superb Noisette, very large, pale yellow, but it stuck in the bud, and he discontinued its cultivation; when perfect it was nearly as fine as Marechal Niel in size and form.






How many of M. Boll's Roses were sent to France and what names were given I do not know; probably several of the popular old sorts.



These varieties, some of which I have alluded to, have not been sufficiently described to recognise the class to which they belong. They are only intended as a record, as most of them have disappeared from our catalogues.

I have searched all the leading American catalogues to find the Roses said to have been raised by A. Cook, but I do not find one of them, and must acknowledge my entire ignorance of any such Roses. This synopsis of our American Roses I hope may not be uninteresting to your Rose growers. Isabella Sprunt is well known as one of the best Roses for winter forcing for florists; and James Sprunt is but little inferior, when well grown, to General Jacqueminot, being nearly the same colour, very double, and a very fine Rose. Cornelia Koch is a beautiful Rose. The Prairies are all fine, and I look to see them hold as prominent a place in English gardens as they do in our own. Our climate is admirably adapted to Rose culture, and I anticipate great results from judicious hybridisation in the production of new varieties. In regard to the culture of the Rose, what I wrote 1844 (Hovey's "Magazine") will perhaps bear repetition: — "That the skill of our amateur cultivators will eventually succeed in producing ever-blooming varieties of the Prairie Rose we are as confident as our correspondent (Mr. Pierce); indeed, it has already been done in one instance, Mr. Feast having one variety, the Perpetual Pink, which is an autumn bloomer. By hybridisation with the Perpetuals or Bourbon Roses, varieties will undoubtedly be produced which will flower throughout the season." From 1840 until the death of M. Vibert, the eminent Rose grower, I was in constant correspondence, and secured all his new Roses; in 1844 I visited Laffay, at Meudon, especially to see his great chef d'oeuvre, La Reine, and make the acquaintance of such a stately queen, conspicuous among all Roses, as your own revered Queen is above all others, ancient or modern.

I cannot close this enumeration of American Roses, after a pretty familiar acquaintance with them, as well as with all the Roses of any reputation, better than to add what I said in 1862, in an article on the Rose (vol. xxviii., p. 241): — "I revel among the Roses. I enjoy them at morn and eve; even the noonday sun finds me often among my favourite plants. I load my breakfast table with the beautiful and fragrant flowers, gathered with the morning dew, and literally feed upon their loveliness. Twilight finds me reluctantly leaving their companionship; and my library table is burdened with freshly-cut blooms, whose sweetness fills the air. Our silver goblet, the laurels of a sharply contested 'thirty,' is overshadowed by their glorious buds, which hang in rich profusion. I light my cigar, and close the summer eve in dreamy contemplation of their exquisite forms, their glowing tints, and their wonderful perfection. Though Roses to me are no rarity at any season of the year, it is only in the abundance of the Rose season that I can actually enjoy them in all their rich luxuriance and loveliness."