Anyone Can Grow Roses
Anyone can grow roses! In the colder, northern counties, in the extreme north of Scotland where very low winter temperatures can be expected, in the drier eastern counties as well as in the kinder climates — in fact, wherever the garden — roses are a practical proposition. Individual varieties do, however, have their likes and dislikes; those with plenty of petals invariably open their blooms perfectly in areas where the rainfall is low; in areas with a high rainfall, such flowers will often be spoilt, whereas those with fewer petals will be unmarked.
Most roses will grow and flower with relatively little attention, provided they are not planted under the shade of over-hanging trees or in badly-drained. They will, however, give much better results, increasing in both size and beauty for a number of years, if they receive a little extra attention. Such attention is well within the scope of the average gardener, even if he is growing roses for the first time.
A reasonably open position is desirable, although slight shade does not matter. Sound drainage is vital: if surface water remains for many weeks in winter, rose tree roots tend to rot, and growth will be weak and spindly. Where surface water stays for merely a day or two, as it often does on very heavy soil, there is no need to worry.
Many people want to grow only fragrant roses and one often hears that modern varieties are scentless. There have always Almost all rose blooms will seem scent-less unless the weather and atmospheric conditions are just right, for fragrance-depends on the volatilization of essential oils, which occurs chiefly in a warm, humid atmosphere. During cold, wet spells even the most highly scented varieties may have little or no fragrance.
Rose hybridists do not ignore fragrance when breeding new varieties, but unfortunately fragrance is a recessive not a dominant characteristic.
If a new seedling has vigour, colour, freedom of bloom and all the other virtues but is merely lacking in scent, the hybridist would be foolish to pass it over. On the other hand, if he has one which is strongly scented but is a weak grower he will not offer it to the public.
WHAT TO GROW
First decide on the types of roses to be grown. Nowadays the colour range is very wide, probably greater than in any other flower. Self-colours, bicolours and multicolours are available in innumerable shades and one can choose from bush roses, standards,, ramblers, miniatures, or shrub roses.
There are many new varieties of roses each year, the reason being that since modern roses are propagated vegetatively and not by seed their working lives are limited. Eventually every variety starts to deteriorate, especially those with complicated ancestries, such as the hybrid teas and floribundas. After about 25 years many varieties no longer give of their best.
There are, of course, honourable exceptions such as the rose-pink Picture (which was introduced in 1932) or McGredy’s Yellow (1933), both of which are still reliable.
The original species or wild roses and the old-fashioned shrub kinds, like the Bourbons, have simple ancestries. They were not propagated to the same extent as the modern roses. Such roses often still retain their pristine vigour.
Hybridists must continue to offer new rose varieties regularly, if only to replace those that fall by the wayside, but it is also important to remember that most contemporary varieties are better in every way than their predecessors. They are more vigorous, with better-formed blooms in a much wider range of colours, and they flower more freely.
These vary in height from 1-½ to 5 ft. or so, according to variety and method of pruning. They are represented by hybrid teas and floribundas, as well as the informal shrub type or species which are usually grown as single specimens and not in formal beds.
Hybrid teas were the mainstay of gardens until the last few years. Their blooms are borne either singly or in twos and threes. Where roses of real quality are required they are still the first choice. They vary in height between 1-½ and 4 ft.
The floribundas, formerly known as hybrid polyanthas, carry their blooms in clusters or trusses. They flower profusely, are excellent for cutting, and are exceptionally hardy even where prolonged near-freezing temperatures are experienced. Heights differ considerably, from moderately vigorous varieties up to 2 ft., which are suitable for fronts of borders, to the taller kinds which may reach 4 ft. or so with light pruning.
Floribunda dwarfs are bushy, unusually low-growing varieties. They vary in height from about 8 to 15 in. and some are ideal for edging.
Hybrid teas and floribundas are also grown in standard form. Buds or ‘eyes’ are taken from the chosen variety and budded on to briar or Rosa rugosa stems about 3-1/2 ft. Only the more vigorous hybrid teas, such as Ena Harkness, Gail Borden, Peace and Perfecta, make really effective standards, especially if they have a bushy, spreading habit of growth.
RAMBLERS AND CLIMBERS
These are often slow starters and will not produce a profusion of flowers for at least two years. They are, however, very long-lived. They can be grown on pillars,
These range from 6 to 15 in. high. The tiny individual blooms are often perfect replicas of hybrid teas. The foliage is also proportionately smaller. All varieties are excellent for edgings to beds of floribundas or hybrid teas, as well as for window boxes,or sink gardens. They can be grown in the living-room in pots or with some success for limited periods. They dislike a dry atmosphere and abhor central heating. One method is to bring them on in a greenhouse or frame until the buds are showing, then transfer them to a really cool room and spray them night and morning with clear water. Directly the first crop of bloom is over, return them to the greenhouse or frame and grow on again. As an experiment in keeping them indoors all the year, stand each pot in a large pan or saucer containing at least 1 in. of damp peat. Keep the peat fairly moist except in winter and stand the pots out-of-doors during summer showers.