Our second post from this old book by one of horticulture’s early superstars deals with single roses – roses that have only five petals. People often think of these as being “wild” roses but, in fact, many are the result of hybridization and are often among the most famous, and beautiful, of roses, Fru Dagmar Hastrup being a good example (which I grow myself – see the photo below).
I was surprised to learn that Bowles was not fond of “rambling roses” as these are amongst my favourites for use as climbers. Perhaps this was because hybridization was continuing apace with them at the time; two that I grow, Ghislaine de Féligonde (1916) and Paul Transon (1900) were bred about the time that this book was published. Although most ramblers only bloom once, these two will rebloom throughout the year, though not as heavily as modern roses. Also interesting is that he was fond of Rosa multiflora; this is often used as an understock, particularly here in Canada, and is much maligned in cases where the scion (the budded, named rose) dies and the understock shoots from the rootstock. Rosa multiflora was used in breeding many ramblers, the other common source of breeding for this class being Rosa wichuraiana. Both of these originated in Asia.
Fru Dagmar Hastrup
Wiki User Kurt Stüber
My Garden In Summer (1914)
Edward Augustus Bowles, 1865-1954
Now it is time that we turned to the single Roses themselves, and we will begin with R. sericea as it is generally the first in flower each season, giving a blossom or two early in May, though it continues for a long period, and has not altogether ceased flowering in mid-June. It is remarkable for, and easily recognised by, its four-petalled blossoms, which have the appearance of a Maltese Cross. I have seen five-petalled flowers, but very rarely; and so far as I know, this Rose and Potentilla Tormentilla are the only two members of the great order Rosaceae, of which it is a family tradition to have the flowers with their parts arranged in fives, or some multiple of five, which have but four petals, like some member of the Poppy family. A fine old bush of R. sericea crowns one of the mounds on the riverside edge of the oldest portion of the rock garden, and in late Summer bears a crop of bright scarlet hips, which proclaim by their colour that my plant is one of the forms from the Himalayan region, as those of later introduction from further eastward bear fruits that get no further than orange in ripening, and not infrequently remain a deep yellow even at their best. My form makes a very picturesque bush if left alone, for, unlike the variety pteracantha, which we cut almost to the ground annually for the sake of getting strong growths and the large crimson thorns they produce, it is better to leave the stems of the type many seasons, that they may become furnished with long, arching side-shoots, which bear masses of pure white flowers year after year. I have a young plant supposed to be a yellow-flowered form, but it has not yet flowered and produced its promised gold.
Not many days after R. sericea has made her début comes R. altaica and totally eclipses her in beauty, for of all the single white Roses of medium height there is none with larger flowers or that is more generous in producing them during its flowering period. It may be allowed to grow into an aged specimen bush of some five feet in height by removing the wandering suckers, and cutting out some of the older wood now and then after flowering, or else may be used as a spreading undergrowth by topping extra lanky shoots, and cutting away two-year-old stems and allowing the suckers to wander as they please; in both ways it will always produce a charming effect, both when covered with its creamy- white flowers, and again when full of deep purple-black hips, like large Black-currants. It is but a glorified form of our wild Burnet Rose, R. spinosissima, but the finest of that family. Almost as fine is R. hispida, its near relative, but it is never so free with its flowers here, perhaps because I have only got budded specimens of it, more suitable, perhaps, for the rock garden, where errant Rose suckers are not pleasant to see or handle in the less wild portions; but I should like a bed in the turf filled with strong, year-old shoots from suckers of R. hispida, as I feel sure the wealth of pale yellow flowers they would produce would be worth looking at. On first opening they are sulphur in colour, but soon fade to a creamy white, except towards the centre, and half their charm lies in the fleeting nature of their yellowness, insomuch that one feels a satisfaction in catching them at the right moment to see their primrose colouring. They are nearly as large as those of R. altaica, and none other of the Burnet Roses approaches them in this respect, but I have a great affection for most of them, from the dwarf native form, with its small, cream-coloured flowers, to the double, garden-raised forms known as Scotch Briers. They are all best grown on their own roots, and are then easy to make use of almost anywhere in the garden, but perhaps are never better than in broad drifts in the front of beds of taller-growing Roses, where they may be left alone for the life of the garden with nothing more than an occasional mulch of manure, and a certain amount of judicious clearing out of the older wood. Even the wild form is worth finding room for, though it loses its dwarf habit after a year or two in garden ground, and will reach a height of four feet if permitted to grow into a specimen bush. I could almost believe that Rosa spinosissima represents the first attempts of the gods in fashioning the Rose, for its dwarf, wild form is a centre from which branch off so many different types. Its creamy colour may once have been the orthodox yellow of most primitive forms, and, as seen in R. hispida, fades easily to white, following the line of colour development. Grant Allen pointed out in his fascinating book, The Colours of Flowers, that this was well shown forth by the way in which yellow flowers fade to white, white often die off pink, and blue flowers so often begin life as pink buds. I think the minute Myosotis versicolor is the only flower that begins yellow and fades gradually through pink to a dull blue, and thus shows in itself its whole line of colour descent. I always bring it home to the rock garden when I meet it in sandy cornfields; it sows itself sparingly there, and though so small, never fails to interest some during the Summer who have not before noticed its changeable hues. Orange, leading on to scarlet, I imagine is another line of descent from yellow, omitting the white stage, which seems to lead on to rosy reds, then purple, and finally blue.
Many ancient myths declare Roses to have been originally white, until dyed by the blood of Venus or Adonis, or by a bowl of nectar that careless Cupid upset when leading a dance in Olympus, according to the fancy of the teller of tales. But even though we may not believe any of this, it is a fact that Rosa spinosissima varies to red, and I have found among the typical white ones growing on the Penally Burrows near Tenby striped, pink, and deep red forms. I failed to make the scraps I grubbed up grow, but I have here a very deep crimson form that in all but colour is a regular Burnet Rose. R. Albertii is said to be a form from Turkestan, and has small, deep-yellow flowers, very charming when you get them, but with me they are very sparingly produced, and I much prefer the variety ochroleuca, which is one of the best dwarf yellow roses, as it is so generous with flowers. It is rather difficult to procure on its own roots, however, and I daresay would not live long budded, and of course so treated could not spread by suckers to form the delightful colonies natural to the spinosissima group. I owe my own-root plants to the generosity of Kew, where there is a fine bed in the grass filled with this Rose. Something like it, but having more glaucous leaves, and an additional three feet of stature, is R. xanthina, a very satisfactory yellow Rose, as may be seen by the accompanying illustration of one of my bushes backed by the old Yew hedge by the river, I pondered long before deciding upon this Rose to fill the important space between the stone baluster from Old London Bridge and the Yew hedge at the head of one of the flights of steps in the terrace garden, but have been thankful I chose it, for its blue-green leaves are beautiful for many months, and throughout June it is a delightful mass of clear, soft-yellow flowers. This fine species comes from the Altai Mountains and Northern China, and in spite of a reputation for tenderness, has behaved well here in two very draughty parts of the garden. I wish I could say the same of its much rarer Afghan form, R. Ecae, which has had cosy nooks apportioned to it for some five years, and in none of them has ever shown a ghost of a flower-bud on the wiry little growths that look so promising. I long for the flowers, for they are about the size of Buttercups, and of almost as deep a yellow. I have seen it flowering freely at Warley, and that is not so far off but that I may hope to see it do as well here some day; and I shall live in hope and expect a due reward, unless there is truth in the definition of the cardinal virtues given by the cynical little beast of a schoolboy that ” Faith is belief in what can’t happen, Hope is belief in what won’t happen, and Charity is belief in what people say has happened.” May my practice of Hope soon turn to a chance of the practice of Charity among those who listen to my tales of R. Ecae.
Another good yellow Rose lately arrived in our gardens is R. Hugonis from Western China – a fine, free-growing bushy species, with small and numerous leaflets and flowers a shade paler than those of R. xanthina; but best of all single yellow Roses, so far as depth and brilliancy of colour goes, is that many times misnamed species, the Austrian Brier. From the Crimea to Thibet you may meet with it wild, and it is plentiful in Syria, but never will you see it adorning the banks of Austrian roadsides. It seems now that the law of priority decrees that it must be known scientifically under the unpleasant, though only too appropriate, name of Rosa foetida, for it must be owned that under no name, in spite of any amount of poetic licence, would it smell sweet and lose its peculiar odour, so much like that of many of the hemipterous insects, and especially those known, on account of another unfortunate change of name, as Norfolk Howards. I have often wondered what became of that luckless Joshua who made so ill-planned a change; did he revert to his first name of Bug, or has he lost his notoriety among the Smiths or Joneses, or is he still Mr. Norfolk Howard, in spite of the undesired universal change of name for the insect pest as well as for him? The confusion over the name of this Rose seems to be due to Linnaeus, who cannot have been much of a specialist in Roses, for he has mixed up old synonyms and herbarium specimens to such an extent that one feels the whole lot should be put into Chancery, with a final appeal to the House of Lords, as the only chance of getting their legal status fixed. Linnaeus mixed up the Sweet-brier and the Austrian Brier, and described the yellow one under the name of R. Eglanteria, in the Species Plantarum. In his annotated copy, preserved in the library of the Linnaean Society, he erased the synonyms he cites, which are all those of the Sweet-brier, and wrote ” R. lutea. Bauh. Pinax. p. 483,” showing he then realised his mistake, and wished to connect it with the name cited by Bauhin in his Pinax as used by Lobel, Caesalpinus, Camerarius, Tabernaemontanus, Gerard, and other reverend fathers in Botany; but unfortunately this correction must have been later than the publication of the Mantissa in
1771, in which it is still connected with Eglanteria, so that Herrmann’s description of it, published in 1762 under the name foetida, is the first correct one after the date at which all botanical nomenclature commences for Phanerogams, namely 1753, the date of the publication of the first edition of Linnaeus’ Species Plantarum.
I hope those who translate Latin names to make English ones for plants will leave this one alone. Under its present misleading popular name its nationality is misrepresented, but that is better than having the truth loudly proclaimed by such a title as the ” Stinking Rose.”
Its leaves, on the other hand, have a pleasant scent that would make such a name the more unjust. True they need pinching before they reveal the slight Sweet-brier nature of their scent, but it is there if wanted. They are of a peculiar yellow-green, which is generally sufficiently marked even in youthful suckers to prevent their destruction by anyone who has an eye and brain that work together to guide his hoe. Also each leaflet is hollowed like a spoon on its upper surface, and the marked contrast of the curiously deep chocolate brown of the bark with the straight, light-coloured prickles ought to be enough to save them, for they are precious possessions, this Rose not being very lavish with suckers. Perhaps this fact accounts for the difficulty of procuring it on its own roots, and the common practice of budding it on Brier stocks, when the plants mostly grow into lanky, thinly-furnished specimens and are not long-lived, but on its own roots the old wood being removed makes room for tall, straight, basal shoots, that for a year or two should produce a shower of gold, and then in their turn be carried to the bonfire. I got my best plant of it in a curiously roundabout way. A nurse, in the intervals of calling to her youthful charge to mind the edge of the river and other dangers, told me of an orange-coloured Rose that grew like a weed in front of her mother’s cottage, sending up shoots even in the path. This was good news indeed, and I begged for a sucker, and as I expected, when three beauties arrived, they were the copper-coloured form of the Austrian Brier. That was many years ago, but every season since I have blessed her and that country cottage garden when I see the fiery orange of her Rose bushes. One I planted in the rock garden, and it rewarded me for giving it such an important position by reverting suddenly to the yellow form, and the suckers that travel to the eastward are all pure gold, while the westward colony is of copper. When both are in full flower the effect is delightful, and all the more so to me for having come as a surprise.
I am very fond of its double-flowered seedling, said to be of American origin, and produced in a garden of course, named R. Harrisonii, and from that richly-stored Irish garden, Riverston, I have at last got what, I believe, to be its very self on its own roots – but I must in justice own that Harrisonii makes a very effective standard when budded, at least for a certain period. Quite half of my most precious Roses have come from Bitton, that sanctuary for rare species, where, grown on their own roots, the suckers are respected, and allowed to grow to just the right size for a lucky visitor to carry away with him. My latest treasure from thence is a well-rooted layer of the wonderful old Double Yellow Cabbage Rose, the pride of so many of the early English gardeners, and the despair of so many later ones; for the various instructions for its successful cultivation, written by the great ones of the past three centuries, are found upon examination to totally contradict each the other – a sure sign that there is no royal road to certainty of flowering with this wayward beauty. Even if buds should be formed, unless halcyon days of full sunshine prevail at the time of their appearance they will refuse to open. We have given it the south-eastern wall of the orchid house, and anxiously await results.
But I have favourites among single Roses that are neither yellow nor cream coloured, and a red one has won much of my affection; it is R. Moyesii, comparatively new to our gardens, and one of the best results of Wilson’s wonderful haul of new plants in China. It wants plenty of space, and I had to move mine after its first two seasons or it would have snatched my hat off or scratched my face every time I went by the path it aspired to block up. Shoots eight feet high with arching side growths a yard in length are what you must allow for, then you can enjoy its characteristic, deep-green leaves with numerous leaflets, and at flower time its wonderfully glowing blossoms, the nearest approach in colour to a carbuncle of any flower I know, especially when the evening sunlight assists their brightness. Its ample petals are very substantial and fleshy, more so than those of any other Rose, and of a peculiar leathery texture, and look as though their characters would be valuable to the hybridist who wishes to create a Rose that will last for a month. It is a near relation of R. macrophylla, and like it produces the most sensational hips of the family – pendant cone-shaped wonders two or more inches long, of brightest sealing-wax red, almost as lovely as the flowers. R. macrophylla itself is handsomest when in fruit, for the pale pink flowers are rather lacking in distinction. R. Malyi, a near relative of R. alpina, is a very beautiful, rich-red rose, neat in habit, with dainty foliage of small leaflets, and profusely lavish with its annual offering of ruby buds and crimson flowers. Alpina itself has never rewarded my hard work on mountain sides when trying to extract a sucker with some fibrous roots attached from a jumble of stones and tree roots, and nothing to do it with but my fingers and a fern-trowel. Now and then an especially richly-coloured form has tempted me to this labour, but Rose suckers are nasty things to remove at Midsummer, even with a good spade and nearer home. Its dwarf variety pyrenaica is very happy here, running about freely and flowering and fruiting as though it felt it could never do enough to please me.
On the slopes above the Lake of Mont Cenis there is a little thicket of dwarf Roses among which grows Anemone Halleri, and these two plants apparently are nowhere else in that neighbourhood. The Rose looks as though it went through hard times with browsing goats or cows, and is no more than a foot high, so I fetched it home with me, hoping for some particularly interesting dwarf form of alpina. After a couple of years of convalescence here it made a fresh start in life, sent up the prickliest of imaginable new shoots, and last year flowered; it is our native spinosissima, and might have been brought from Beachy Head, instead of 6000 feet up in the Graian Alps. R. rubrifolia is another very beautiful species from alpine regions, with its curious glaucous leaves shot with purple and red shades. It seeds itself about here, and, if room is allowed it, a youngster soon makes a good specimen, but my form has rather small flowers. I saw some really fine forms, a few evidently hybrids, in the woods just over the river outside Modane this June. We had to spend some hours there between portions of a somewhat roundabout journey, and wandered up to this spot hoping to see a particularly fine specimen of Atragene alpina I had admired there some years ago; but though there was only a week’s difference in the dates of my two visits, this early season had replaced the blue and white flowers with silky seed-heads, and the Roses were in full pride of beauty. It seemed to me no two were quite alike, and save for rubrifolia I could not put a name to any. Canina-like beauties of purest white and deepest salmon graded off into something like glorified Sweet-briers on the one hand and to purple-leaved rubrifolias on the other. I wish some enterprising rosarian would go there in Autumn and take samples of them all. The salmon-red ones came very near a beautiful form of canina known as var. Andersonii, which I think is one of the most lovely shades of pink to be found, so soft and warm, not a trace of blue coldness about it. The hybrid called Lady Curzon comes near it, but is not so warm in tint, and of a coarser make and habit. A fine canina form for a bold effect isolated in turf is R. scabrata. Its arching, free habit shows off the multitude of large flowers, which are canina right enough, but twice as large and twice as pink as in the type, and if it is not too much pruned after flowering, the autumn crop of hips is very effective. There is no lack of good single Roses suitable for most positions, from those that grow into small trees like the last named, to dwarfs like gallica pumila, whose height is to be reckoned in inches, and Wichuraiana forms that can be used as climbers or for carpeting banks; an irregular grouping of such Roses can be made wonderfully effective by using some of the most contrasting forms. I planted a rough belt by the side of the carriage drive in this way, covering about a dozen high poles with climbing forms to give height, and filling in below them with bush and dwarf varieties. White and cream-coloured forms were to be massed at one end, and the two whitest of all Roses, the double-flowered forms of R. rugosa, make the start; these are the well-known Mme. Georges Bruant and Blanche Double de Courbet, which, with care, can be grown into good, rounded bushes. That rampant Wichuraiana hybrid Gardenia has a pole, and performs marvellous gymnastic feats of climbing and tumbling all over it, and if old wood is thinned out annually and juicy young shoots, as red as a Lenten Hellebore and yards in length, are tied in, one is sure of a summer cascade of orange-coloured buds and white flowers next season. Other poles are covered by a climbing H.P., Paul’s Single White, Miss Jekyll’s climbing arvensis, a vigorous growing form of the pretty white Rose so common in hedges and woodlands of this district, and the Himalayan Musk Rose, R. Brunonii, which we must now call R. moschata var. nepalensis if we remember to do so.
Anyway, whether we honour good Robert Brown in this queer latinisation of his name, or recall the native country of the Rose in treating it correctly as a variety of moschata, it will still be the most ambitious of really hardy Roses, and always at the top of the tree so long as it can get food for its hungry roots and a tree to clamber upon. Once it has fought its way up, and can fling out long growths to hang downwards, it begins to show its true use and beauty, and the showers of pure white blossoms among the grey-green leaves make one of the best annual treats the Roses provide for their owners. It varies in the greyness of the foliage, and I much prefer the greyest form. I have one, beautifully silvery in leaf, that has fought its way up an old Yew in the Iris beds, and at all seasons the contrast of sombre Yew shoots and grey-blue Rose sprays is delightful. The form on the pole in the Rose tangle by the drive, however, is a very ordinary sort of green as to leaf, which does not matter much there, as R. Fedtschenkoana rambles all round its long legs and shoots up six feet high with prickly red stems and elegant grey leaves.
After this group of sky-scrapers, the Giraffes of the Rose world, the bed holds lowlier cattle, and among them altaica, sericea, and all the forms of Scotch Roses that I could get hold of at the time the bed was planted, that were either white or yellow. They have been left to run into one another pretty much as they like, and have made a dwarf thicket, out of which R. xanthina towers at one end and Lady Penzance Sweet-brier at the other. I want the Copper Austrian to do so too beside Lady Penzance, but have not been able to induce it to as yet. Then, as we reach the upper end of the bed, the yellow colouring is replaced by pink, and at the back corner shades to crimson, where Carmine Pillar covers a tall pole and Maharajah a low one, surrounded by bushes of rubrifolia, the shining-leaved lucida, the glaucous hibernica, the free-flowering hybrid of humilis and rugosa, and the neat growing nitida, to bring the level down to some dwarf gallica forms, out of which rise two of the Irish Singles, Irish Glory and Irish Beauty, this last and a fine pillar of Wichuraiana Jersey Beauty being the only white-flowered forms at this end of the bed. It has always been a very satisfactory and attractive bed since its first year of planting, now a dozen or more ago, and is the one that I have mentioned in the Spring volume as gradually laying down its own blue carpet of Scilla and Chionodoxa. Now it is striking out another line for itself in starting all unasked a colony of the Welsh Poppy, and I can’t make up my mind yet as to whether I will scratch my face next Spring and root them out, or, if I let them go further, they will interfere with the health and happiness of the Scillas. A good undertone of yellow and orange Meconopsis would look charming under white Roses, but Fate has unkindly decreed that the colony should start nearest the end given to pink ones. I must look at them critically another season, and if they are too yellow I will don a fencing mask, and so try to avoid scratches while I evict them.
I have no great affection for Rambler Roses, perhaps because I see so many over arches and rustic poles as I journey up to London by the Great Eastern Railway. Until the nearness to town turns the back garden into a mere yard, each one has a Crimson Rambler, pink or white Dorothy Perkins, a Hiawatha or Lady Gay, or the whole set if near this end of the line, and it is a relief to see now and then a practical-minded householder’s garden given over to the utilitarian cultivation of Scarlet Runners on strings, their pure scarlet blossoms a joy to the eye surfeited with colours that have had such a narrow squeak to just avoid being classed as magenta.
I make an exception for Blush Rambler, though, whose colour is charmingly soft, and the single flowers have such a wise way of shedding their petals the moment they feel themselves growing old and ugly, so that the large bunches of flowers look fresh and clean from first to last.
The rose-covered posts in my so-called pergola support some very old Roses instead of the newest. I write so-called, as my double row of posts for climbers cannot really claim to be a pergola, and only a few of the climbers are allowed to reach overhead from one crosspiece to its vis-à-vis, as in this flat garden, short of climbing a tree or having a captive balloon ready for short ascents, one would never get a chance of seeing the outside of its roof where the flowers would be, and I do not see the fun of planning floral displays for dicky birds or angels, and our proximity to Enfield Lock and Waltham and their Government works for warlike goods, places us in a prohibited area for aeroplanes.
The rose-coloured Wistaria multijuga before mentioned I am encouraging to roof in the walk, for its yard-long racemes of flowers show well hanging overhead, and in an old Rose called Adelaide d’Orleans that I got from a Norfolk garden I have another plant suitable for the same purpose. It is one of a set of seedlings raised by M. Jacques when head gardener at Chateau Neuilly to the Duc d’Orleans, who afterwards became King Louis Philippe. R. sempervirens was the species he used as seed parent, and the best known of his creations is Félicité Perpétue, which covers the post opposite the Wistaria, and is a wonderful sight when in flower, but too well known to need any description here; however, its elder sister, Adelaide d’Orleans, who first saw the light in 1826, two years earlier than Félicité, seems to be very little known. It makes enormous growths when well established, and they are so pleasantly slender that they can be bent or trained any way or anywhere; the bunches of flowers appear in the latter part of June on long, slender stalks, so that they hang down most gracefully, and if the shoots of last Summer are tied in so as to form a roof over the pergola you can look up into the faces of the flesh-pink flowers, and they almost seem to smile back at you, as a bevy of cherubs might if they liked you. By shortening a few growths so that they wave free for a yard or two on the outer side of the supporting post quite a different effect is obtained, and there you will have a fine mass of flower-heads almost hiding the leaves. Adelaide is also very beautiful if allowed to ramble into some small tree; I have seen her thus in another Norfolk garden, but have not yet imitated that effect, as I have the hanging fringe on the pergola of the first garden in which I met her and fell in love with her at first sight.
One occasionally sees some delightful old pink climbing Roses in gardens in Devonshire and Ireland, that bear great trusses of flowers, and no sooner has one crop shed its petals than a mass of green buds will push up to take its turn. They appear to be garden hybrids, and closely related to Rosa Pissartii (often spelt Pissardii but named after Pissart, gardener to one of the Shahs of Persia), and which in Miss Willmott’s monograph becomes a variety of moschata with the name nasturana. These pink forms are semi-double, very sweetly scented, and quite charming for clothing a pillar or post. The true R. moschata var. nasturana ‘ is only touched with pink in bud and opens pure white, and is another very useful and beautiful Rose. I have tried a few of the newer pillar-roses, and I think Trier and Fairy will long possess the posts I have allotted them. Their dainty white flowers are delightful, and Fairy is as perpetual as any white Rose I have seen. When newly opened the effect of its golden ring of stamens against the pure white petals makes it look like a miniature copy of R. bracteata, which, if only it were a shade hardier and began to flower earlier in the season, would be the finest of white Roses. As it is, however, I love it dearly, and it grows on one of the four buttresses, or whatever is the right name for the legs of the old Market Cross. It has the warmest one, that which faces most to the south, and yet suffers badly in cold winters, and really needs a south wall and perhaps a blanket during sharp frost. It is sad to see its glorious, shining, should-be evergreen leaves turn black and then fall in bad seasons, but when they struggle through and keep green till Spring, I know there will be a good show of the firm-textured white flowers with their rich golden centres later on. If only one could put such a centre into the new single white tea, Simplicity!
Another new Rose with a pillar-clothing reputation is Ariel. I am delighted with its curious scent, so much like the leaves of Sweet-brier, but I am not so greatly enamoured of its shade of pink. Joseph Billiard has as handsome leaves as one could wish, and grows like Jack’s Beanstalk, so rapidly do fat, fleshy shoots spring up from the base. You look at a 10-inch-long one on Monday, and say, ” Next week I will tie you in to take the place of older wood.” On Tuesday you do not pass that way, and on Wednesday as you go by in the dusk that shoot scratches your nose, and you have to tie it back to a neighbour of last year’s growth on Thursday. On Friday you go away for the week-end, and when you next see your Rose this shoot has shot through the topmost growth of last year, has made a great arch of itself, and is reaching down to have another snatch at your nose; when you go to bend it up to a cross-bar it goes snap in the middle, but a few days later it starts into side shoots all the way up. If caught young and trained as they should go these shoots cover a great amount of space very effectively and glossily. When first I saw the flowers I thought them lovely with their sharp contrast of rosy crimson petals and lemon-yellow eye after the style of that of a Lady Penzance Sweet-brier, but now I find you must look at half-opened blossoms only, for their pink turns sour in a few hours and proclaims itself a cousin of magenta, and sets one’s eye on edge like rhubarb tart does one’s teeth. I want a tame fairy to live in the Joseph Billiard bower during flowering time to pick off every blossom as it turns the corner from warm pink to the hue of weak Condy’s Fluid.
Although I am not hospitable towards Ramblers I cherish their original parent, R. multiflora, which has been so well named the Bramble Rose. Our specimen was a come-by-chance, in fact a stock that shot up and smothered out its scion, and as it was not badly placed we have given it a succession of ever-heightening supports until it owns the greater portion of a felled tree, and we feel we must now rest contented. It is a fine sight some seasons, depending mostly, I think, on the attention it has received in the previous Summer and Autumn in the way of the removal of old wood, a judicious thinning and shortening of some new shoots, and tying in others full length. The plant well repays such work when it is covered by the cloud of its wee, bramble-like flowers, each of which might be covered by a sixpence.
Another small-flowered, but for all that mightily effective, Rose is the little-grown R. Soulieana – a very close relation of moschata, though, unlike most of the moschata forms, Soulieana is no climber, but a veritable tree on its own account.
I got my plant from Spaeth of Berlin, and in its first season it gave me the impression that I had wasted pelf on its carriage, for it looked a mere ordinary Brier and made no attempt to flower. Next season it shot out the most surprising growth I had ever seen a Rose achieve – as thick as my thumb, armed with prickles large and ferocious-looking enough for the jaws of a shark, and soaring up in such a hurry that it soon reached a height of eight feet, and looked as though it had no relationship with the two feet of older scraggy growth sitting at its base. The following season it clothed itself with side shoots, and they again took up another Summer to ramify and build up a handsome tree; but all that time never a sign of a flower-bud appeared, and we began to wonder whether this ten feet by six of prickles and grey-green leaves was paying us enough rent for its plot of ground. Then in the fifth year, it was ready to make a return for our patience, and every shoot burst out into great bunches of buds, and for several weeks, covering a much longer period than moschata nepalensis can achieve, it was one splendid bouquet of pendant bunches of pure white roses, smaller than those of nepalensis, but I feel certain much larger than those of the plate in Miss Wilmott’s book. A great number of them turned to hips, and till late in the Winter it was a beautiful and interesting sight, for its hips are of a bright orange colour that is very striking when seen in the sunlight.
The true and rare old Musk Rose exists here, but in a juvenile state at present, for it is not many years since I brought it as cuttings from the splendid old specimen on The Grange at Bitton, and I must not expect its deliciously scented, late-in-the-season flowers before it has scrambled up its wall space.
I must mention other Roses only briefly, or this chapter will rival R. Soulieana in monopolising space, so of R. anemonaeflora I will only say it scrambles about on the trellised wall with no special care, and its long, narrow leaflets and white flowers, so like double Anemone nemorosa, surprise many people who have overlooked its charms when planting their Roses. A white-flowered form of R. Seraphinii has the neatest white thorns of any Rose I possess. A hybrid of rugosa and foliolosa bears large, soft, pink flowers with a wonderfully beautiful white eye that gives a delightful finish to their good looks, but they are shy about opening out flat and showing it to full advantage except in hours of full sunlight. R. foliolosa itself is a pretty, light-habited, lowly plant with cheerful, pink flowers, useful to let run about as it will in spaces between large shrubs, and a good thing to use in the same way is the Ash-leaved Rose R. fraxinifolia, now reckoned a variety of R. blanda.
R. myriacantha, almost a spinosissima, is distinct enough to be worth a place for its pretty, white flowers, and as its name implies, singularly well-armed stems. Of R. Webbiana I have only got the variegated form, a dainty little creature, whose young shoots have more of white and pink in them than of green, but it is none too hardy here, and does best in a sheltered corner of the rock garden. It has long been a puzzle what Rose this was a variegated form of, and it has been assigned to both Wichuraiana and Beggeriana, widely differing species. The latter is a rough-growing bush with rather small flowers. I won’t go so far as to destroy my specimen now it is well established, but should it die I should not replace it with another R. Beggeriana. Other bush-forming species that I cherish more fondly are R. nutkana, a good, late-flowering, pink one; Woodsii, a graceful grower with small pink flowers; Dupontii, which is the newly authorised name for the moschata and gallica hybrid we have so long known as nivea, a sweetly-scented, free-growing Rose with large, flat, white flowers, generally slightly edged and flushed with pink; the single white rugosa, and its very beautiful weeping seedling variety. I have this last budded as a half standard; it stands on a sloping bank edging a lawn, and has made a wonderful tangle of long, intertwined growths, that would sweep half way across the lawn if we did not cut off their tips or turn them back into the general entanglement. Its flowers are of a singularly pleasing, starry form, and cover the whole plant for a few weeks, but they never turn to hips here. I believe because it has some Wichuraiana blood in it, and the plant is a sterile hybrid. If I had a cliff face that could be spared for it, I should like to drape a good stretch of it with a hanging curtain of this fine Rose.
R. microphylla rarely flowers here, but I have only got the double form. When flowers do appear I like their curiously prickly calyx; but of course I never get the still more interesting hips that look more like Sweet Chestnuts than Rose hips. Carmine Pillar is too well known to need description here, but I seldom see it treated as it deserves or allowed enough space to go as far afield as it can. I planted one at the foot of an old leaning Laburnum, and it smothered it from top to toe, and I rather expect helped to bring about its downfall in a gale that treated the garden like a game of ninepins. A tall Yew was another of its victims, so we replaced the Laburnum by the Yew trunk sunk for about two feet and set in concrete, and had a fine scratchy day’s work disentangling the Rose from its old consort and wedding it to the new; but in spite of its apparent resistance it has settled down happily, and is a gorgeous sight at the end of May and beginning of June, with its long arms flung all over the second husband and bearing hundreds of crimson flowers. R. laevigata Anemone was much later in flowering this season than is usually the case, not making much of a show until mid-June. It has taken possession of the old displaced Enfield Market Cross, which now spends its old age in the centre of the Rose garden, and now that its long shoots have climbed up among the pinnacles it requires very little attention, just a light thinning of old wood in late Summer and a tying in of a few of the wildest and longest of last year’s shoots in early Spring. It must be hardier than was at first believed, for it hangs out through the little arches and behind the crockets on all sides, and the growths on the east and north sides flower just as happily as those on the south, and I do not believe there can be a plant that would look better against the grey stone than this Anemone Rose with its exquisitely shaded soft pink flowers as large as one could wish any Rose to be, to still look real, and not a part of the wings in the transformation scene of a pantomime; I think if I had another Market Cross to clothe I should arrange for it to wear another R. laevigata Anemone. I have given up one of the pillars and bays of the trellis by the terrace to another plant of it, and it is filling its space well, and I hope will soon rival its elder sister on the Market Cross. The real laevigata, I fear, will never give a like display of its glorious white flowers here, for it gets the vegetable equivalents of asthma and rheumatics every Winter, and is only convalescent by the end of Summer, just in time to make a growth or two that will be afflicted with similar lung and limb troubles with the advent of Winter. There is a legend of a much hardier form that comes from Northern Japan, but I have not been able to get hold of that plant to replace my poor invalid.
There still remains one of the most fascinating groups untouched, the class that is composed of families bearing the names of China, Bengal, Monthly, Tea-scented, and Fairy Roses, and includes also even those distinct personalities the Willow-leaved and Green Roses. Their Latin names are more numerous still, and as no two authors seem to agree as to which is which, it is hard to settle upon a chieftain to head the clan. It seems to me that until someone will bring us the living wild plant from the mysterious East, we had better enjoy growing those we have, and leave them without a lord-paramount. As far as I can see, unless the single, crimson-flowered plant known as Miss Lowe’s Rosa indica is a wild form, we have nothing in cultivation but garden forms, as has so frequently happened with other plants brought from China. The Willmottian monograph declares the correct title for the chieftain will be Rosa chinensis. So as it is better to be out of the world than out of the fashion, we must call them the China Roses, anyway until that index volume comes, which may be before these pages are finally corrected in the revised proofs, and I may have to substitute the title indica* at the last moment. I was taught so early in my gardening career that the single crimson was the wild parent of all the Chinas that I find it hard to renounce this creed. Moreover, I do not feel one bit convinced that the ” large climbing shrub armed with brown, scattered, hooked prickles,” and bearing solitary flowers, of which Dr. Henry collected dried specimens in the glens near Ichang in Central China, has much to do with our cultivated Chinas with such neat habits and large panicles of flowers, although I must own Redouté figures and describes many indica forms with solitary flowers.
[* No, it must still be chinensis.]
I have had all the books of authority on Roses that I possess open before me, and have tried to find out which of my growing plants of what I call indica forms any two of them have a common name for, but I give it up. It reminds me of the days when I was working for my degree and studying the Psalms. At first I was full of enthusiasm to get at the real inner meaning of certain cryptic words, and would prepare my table like a painter does his palette, but with books for paints: the original Hebrew on my left, above it the Septuagint, followed by the Vulgate, the Authorised and Revised Versions of the Bible, and lastly the Prayer-book. The Hebrew word-root of three letters might be fairly generic in meaning – say, ” to move “; the Septuagint’s Greek equivalent would be no nearer than a substantive signifying ” a bird ” (of course I am inventing an instance, but hardly exaggerating), the Latin might be translated as “sheepfold,” the Authorised Version would give us ” consolation,” and the Prayer-book, perhaps, ” oblations.” Such verses are not frequent, thank goodness; but they exist, and after struggling with a few I memorised the various words and left the meaning alone – quite reversing the Duchess’ moral advice to Alice, ” Take care of the sense, and the sounds will take care of themselves.” Now I treasure in the garden a very beautiful single Rose, of soft cream colouring, flushed at the edges of its large petals with the rosy pink of some sea-shell. I was taught by Canon Ellacombe to regard it as the parent of the Tea-scented Roses, and to call it R. indica fragrans. It appears in the great monograph glorified by the possession of a brand-new name, as though it had been raised to the peerage or canonised, as R. chinensis grandiflora. Then arises the question. Can we connect this lovely Rose with the two single forms, a yellow and a pink, which when wedded in France produced the Tea-scented Roses of gardens? In comparing authorities and plates in order to get clear evidence, I find myself as much baffled now as erstwhile among the Psalm puzzles, and I do not think the lovely salmon-coloured one figured by Redoute and called R. indica fragrans flore simplici is meant for my plant.
The single crimson finds no mention in the great new monograph, in spite of its lovely portrait drawn by Redouté, and I regard this as a slight upon my favourite, which was one of the most precious of the many plant treasures that made up the first armful of plants that kind Dr. Lowe of Wimbledon gave me from his rich store of varieties. Introduced to him by letter, I was rather nervous of my first visit to the man who knew so much, who had made his collection of British Lepidoptera so complete that when over sixty he started to study and to collect Coleoptera, that is to say, Beetles – but not those that the cook called Beadles; and I love that silly story so well, you must please let me tell it in case you like silly stories too. ” I can’t stop ‘ere, mum,” said the new cook; ” the kitchen’s that full of Beadles.” And the prim Missis replied, ” Anyway, cook, you should spell the word with a T.” And the surprised domestic gasped, ” Lor, mum, I never ‘eard ’em called Teadles before.” But Dr. Lowe never collected those, though he soon made many notable captures and discoveries among the true beetles.
In spite of his deep learning, before we had been together in his garden for five minutes I felt I had known him all my life, and he began filling a basket for me with plants that were utter strangers to me. This Rose was one of them, and he told me he had grown it for many years, and it had quite disappeared from other gardens, even on the Continent; and when some account of his plant was published in one of the gardening papers, letters arrived from all quarters asking him for cuttings. I carried away with me two cuttings that April morning; they were rooted in a pot in a vinery, and that Summer they found homes in the garden; the big old bush in the rock garden is one of them, and after twenty years of faithful service, which, sounding too much like an obituary notice, shall be altered to a score of flowering seasons of six months each, is as flourishing as ever. The moral of that is, grow it on its own roots from a cutting, then from May to December one is sure to find flowers and buds on it as rich in colour as pigeon’s-blood rubies; yet I see it in very few gardens.
Another old stager is a bush of the Fairy Rose, R. chinensis var. minima, the double pink form. It too was planted in the rock garden twenty years ago, and still only asks to have an annual Spring cleaning of old wood, if I have omitted to clear it out in the previous August, which is the better season for the job, as it allows the young growths to ripen for next Summer’s work. The crimson form grows in the pergola garden among other Roses such as R. fraxininifolia, and is rather buried up there, but flowers away with a good heart.
The Green Rose, R. chinensis viridiflora, is but little grown, yet it is very interesting as one of the most perfect illustrations of phyllody of petals, for every one of its many rows of them has become as green and firm in texture as its leaves. I greatly like its shapely emerald green buds for cutting to arrange with other Roses whose own are too precious to nip in the bud, and would not be half so elegant and attractive, for the Green Rose manages to make the most of its one charm, and the buds open very slowly, and remain a long while in the first stage of expansion, showing plenty of the green surface of the transformed petals between the sepals. When fully open they turn a dingy olive with dull purple streaks here and there; they are no longer beautiful, but are eagerly sought after as button-holes by my Sunday-school boys in their Sunday afternoon visits to the garden. A cousin who admires the Green Rose carried off a young plant, and asked her old gardener, ” Did you ever see a Green Rose? ” ” Noa, miss, nor a blew one neether,” was his incredulous reply; but the baby Green Rose behaved well, and widened his mind later on. Like other Chinas, it seems to wish to flower all the year round, and had many bunches of sound buds at Christmas in 1913.
“The Cinderella of the Roses,” Mr. Gumbleton used to say, waving the umbrella, which in all weathers accompanied his garden rambles, over the head of R. Watsoniana. Its flowers would almost justify its being called one of the ugly sisters, for they are crumpled little messes of a bad shade of pink, almost as small and uninteresting as those borne by some of the dreadful new brambles from China. But in its long, slender growths and curiously narrow leaves R. Watsoniana possesses a saving grace; when flinging long shoots of lacy greenery over a boulder in the rock garden it is quite attractive, and if budded as a standard makes a peculiar and interesting feature among more ordinary-looking plants. R. gymnocarpa I fear is beyond all hope of transformation by a Fairy Godmother, and doomed to remain the other ugly sister for all time, for it bears dingy-red flowers the size of a threepenny bit that might be considered handsome for a Cotoneaster, but will not pass muster for a Rose. I will not say I have exhausted the list of the Roses of the garden, but I have my patience for recalling their tricks and manners, but not necessarily yours, my reader, for before this happens you can always sleep or close the book, or skip to another chapter.