Country Life in America 20(4): 19-21 (June 15, 1911)

The most promising of the hardy native roses is the prairie rose (Rosa setigera), which has given rise to Baltimore Belle. Queen of the Prairie, and other splendid climbers that bloom between the Ramblers and the Memorial Hybrids


IN SOME parts of the United States are found the best natural conditions for the successful cultivation of roses, and in other parts of the country natural conditions make the cultivation in the open ground of some of the most beautiful roses difficult and generally unsatisfactory.

On the northwest coast at Victoria, Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, and in other towns, many roses are grown in the greatest perfection. In no other part of the world do the Hybrid Teas and the Hybrid Perpetual roses produce better results, and the general use of these plants, the perfection of their flowers, and the length of their blooming period are matters of civic pride and add greatly to the pleasures of life in this part of the country. California, too, is a wonderful rose country; in some parts of the seaboard region of the state, either at the north or in the south, every form of rose can be successfully cultivated.

In the South Atlantic and Gulf states many roses flourish. It is difficult to believe that any rose can surpass the delicate beauty of the Cherokee rose as it appears in early spring in western Louisiana and eastern Texas, forming hedges along roadsides or great masses on the prairies, with long, arching stems clothed with brilliant evergreen foliage, and covered from end to end with innumerable pure-white, single flowers. Among all the gifts of beauty which China has made to the West not one surpasses in value this rose, which fortunately has domesticated itself in all the seaboard region from the Carolinas to Texas.

The memorial rose (Rosa Wichuraiana) carpeting the ground. A new era began when this was introduced in 1893, and a new race of roses was started

In many of the Southern states another Chinese rose, Rosa bracteata, has thoroughly established itself. This is a large shrub with spiny stems, bright foliage, and large, single, white flowers; and among the roses of the South it is surpassed in beauty only by the Cherokee rose. Very beautiful, too, in the South is the Chinese Banksian rose, with its crowded clusters of small, semi-double, white or yellow flowers, when it climbs high into the trees of old gardens.

In the Southern states the old-fashioned Bourbon and China roses grow in great perfection, and though less favored naturally, perhaps, than the Puget Sound region, the South Atlantic states afford excellent opportunities for the greatly increased use of many roses for the decoration of gardens.

In the Northeastern states and those of the Middle West the conditions for the successful cultivation of many roses are bad. The cold winters, the exceedingly hot and dry summers, and the innumerable rose-destroying insects make the cultivation of most roses in the open ground in this part of the country expensive and unsatisfactory. In this region of bad natural conditions, however, are a greater number of people who want to cultivate roses than in other parts of the United States. Here are many of the important rose-producing centres of the country; here the considerable American rose literature has been produced, and here the cultivation of many varieties of roses in winter under glass has been carried to a perfection not found in any other part of the world.

The white variety of the rugosa rose. This species Professor Sargent considers the most promising for hybridization The Altai rose (Rosa spinosissima, var., Altaica) is considered by Mr. Egan the best hardy substitute for the matchless Cherokee which has run wild in the South

In the North, in New England for example, it is possible to have a rose garden in which may be grown many of the Hybrid Perpetuals, Hybrid Teas, and some of the Tea roses. The expense of such a garden, however, is entirely out of proportion to the results obtained from it. For several months of the year the plants must be buried in the ground or are so deeply covered with manure that the garden is more like a manure heap than a garden. During the autumn the foliage of the plants is too often whitened by mildew, and the overpowering odor of various bug-killing compounds fills the nostrils just when the buds are opening. When these do open the flowers are poor things in comparison with the roses of the Northwest, which open month after month on what in the East would be considered neglected bushes.

The Sargent rose has shell pink semi-double flowers nearly three inches across, and blooms from the middle of June to the end of July. Clusters sometimes contain fifty or sixty flowers. This is a portion of the original plant, which was about eight feet high and nine feet in diameter in June 1910, and bore thousands of flowers. At a distance it looks like a huge bush of Kalmia or mountain laurel when in bloom

What are the lessons of this expensive and generally futile effort at rose-growing in the northern United States?

First, that if we are to grow, out-of-doors, roses like the Teas, Hybrid Teas, and Perpetuals, they had best be grown in kitchen gardens where they can be properly cared for without offense to the senses of sight and smell; and if a rose garden is essential to the happiness of the family, it should be placed out of the landscape picture and in such a place that it can be avoided except during the few weeks of the year when the plants are in flower.

Second, that the general failure of many of the races of roses produced in Europe and successfully grown in more favored regions, shows that some of

the time, money, and intelligence expended in unsuccessful efforts to grow roses which are not suitable to the Northern climate might wisely be devoted to efforts to produce new races which may afford here as good results as the Hybrid Teas and other tender roses now produced in Oregon.

A good foundation for such work has already been laid. Roses like the Baltimore Belle and Queen of the Prairies show what may be expected from seedlings of our native Prairie rose, and the possibilities of a race of hybrids derived in part from this beautiful rose, which is the latest of all our native roses to flower, or from some of the other native roses of the North, like Rosa blanda, Rosa Virginiana, and Rosa nitida.

The introduction a few years ago into the United States and Europe of two Japanese roses, Rosa Wichuraiana and Rosa multiflora, have made possible the production of the race of Rambler roses in which the blood of these two species is more or less potent. These are beautiful and useful roses and have already brought about great advances in rose cultivation at the North. Unfortunately those varieties in which the blood of Rosa Wichuraiana is most potent are not entirely hardy in the cold parts of the country.

It is still too soon to speak of the value of various roses recently discovered in western China either as garden plants in the North or as elements in possible hybrids; and in general it is impossible to speak with any precision of the possible value of the offspring resulting from the crossing of any roses. This fact is illustrated by two excellent plants bred by Mr. Jackson Dawson at the Arnold Arboretum.

The first of these is a very hardy Pillar rose with clustered flowers of the form and color of those of Gloire de Dijon; it is called William C. Egan and was obtained by crossing Rosa Wichuraiana with the old Hybrid Perpetual, General Jacqueminot.

The second of these roses raised by Mr. Dawson, the Sargent Rose, with large clusters of pale-pink single flowers, was obtained by a cross of one of Mr. Dawson's earlier hybrids between Rosa Wichuraiana and the Crimson Rambler, with the Hybrid Perpetual, Baroness Rothschild.

The result of this double cross is a rose plant of large size and great vigor with fine foliage and innumerable flowers. No one looking at this rose could guess its origin, and its production indicates possibilities to be obtained from other unusual crosses.

The great chance of a new race of roses, however, which may give to the gardens of the North what the Hybrid Teas have given to the Northwest lies, I believe, in the more general use of the blood of Rosa rugosa. This is a native of the sand dunes of the coast of northern Japan, Korea, and eastern Siberia. It is a very hardy plant; the thick, lustrous leaves are not eaten by insects, the flowers are large and showy, and the fruit is large, brightly colored, and long persistent. One of the best hybrids of this rose, Madame Georges Bruant, is a good garden plant with semi-double, white flowers produced almost continuously through the season.

A still more valuable hybrid of this rose is Conrad F. Meyer. This in its general appearance retains nothing of Rosa rugosa but its vigor and hardiness. The numerous large, double, pink flowers and the foliage show no traces of its Japanese parent.

The advent of this rose is important to the rose lovers of the North. It may well fill them with the hope that their miserable attempts at rose gardens may sometime be replaced by gardens full of beautiful, hardy, and continuously flowering plants. This will not be accomplished in a short time.

The creation of new races of plants requires much time and labor, a real enthusiasm for the work, and the exercise of a high order of intelligence; but when we consider what has been accomplished in the wide field of plant improvement; the production of a new race of roses fitted for the climate of the North does not appear to be a hopeless task.