HOW TO GROW ROSES FOR EXHIBITION
(_By the_ REV. F. PAGE-ROBERTS, _Vice-President National Rose Society_, _F.R.H.S._)
IN writing this chapter my purpose is to tell, in a few clear words, the way to grow fine roses, whether they be for exhibition or for private delight; for the method and culture are identical, if the blooms are to be worth looking at.
First, then, as to situation and soil. If possible, choose a position for the beds sheltered from strong winds, yet not near large trees, or hedges; for the roots will enter the beds and rob them of moisture and nutriment. Buildings and walls are the best shelters.
Make the beds, if possible, in the highest part of the garden, and not the lowest; roses like an open situation, though they need shelter from strong winds, and shade, if possible, from the midday sun. In writing these notes I do not wish to say anything that will discourage any one from trying to grow exhibition roses; for they can be grown, more or less well, in almost any situation, and any soil. Those who can choose both are to be envied.
Then as to soil; some varieties, the H. Ps., will only give the finest blooms in heavy loam; the H. Teas in a less heavy; and the Teas, the most beautiful, though perhaps not so popular as the dark H. Ps., in quite light sandy soil. So the grower must decide according to his situation and soil what varieties to grow, remembering that the Teas are liable to suffer from severe frost.
I make my beds three feet deep and three feet wide, allowing for two rows of roses, and a gra.s.s path about thirty inches wide between the beds, gra.s.s being more sightly than gravel, and pleasanter to walk on.
The beds, if the soil is heavy, will be all the better for being raised a little above the level of the paths; the roots do not like stagnant water. The beds should be prepared in the autumn, a few weeks before the end of October, that the soil may settle. The manure should be below the roots, not touching them; the roots will find it, and it is better for them to go down, than to come to the surface and suffer if the season be dry. A good sprinkling of bone meal spread over the top soil before planting (with a dusting of basic slag, three to four ounces per square yard) will be all that is necessary at this time. Covering the beds with manure in the winter is not recommended; and digging, or even turning it in, in the spring, is not advisable, however carefully it is done, as some of the roots must suffer, and, besides, manure does not protect the roots. The beds should never be disturbed more than the depth that a hoe will do it. The beds for H. Ts. and Teas should be prepared in the same way. Beds wide enough for two rows are more easily managed than wider ones, there being no need to tread on the soil when attending to the plants, and they can be more easily hoed.
When selecting varieties, consult an expert, or better still, if you are not a subscriber to the N. R. S. (and this all rosarians should be), get a copy of the N. R. S. official catalogue of Roses, which can be obtained by non-members through a member, price 2_s._ 6_d._ This will give you all the information desired. A list of good roses for exhibition is given at the end of this chapter. It is advisable to order the plants early, as nurserymen execute orders in the order in which they are received, and planting should be done during the end of October and November; if not done then it must be deferred till February or March.
The distance of plants from each other depends a good deal upon the varieties. Strong growers should be planted wider apart than small growers; one foot apart is about the usual distance in the rows.
There are some varieties like _A. K. Williams_, _Mrs. W. J. Grant_, and _Horace Vernet_, that do not transplant well. These ought to be budded, and not moved, if possible. Dwarf-rooted stocks can be bought of the nurserymen at a small cost; and the Standard stocks, the best for Tea roses, can be usually got in the neighbouring hedges.
=Pruning.=--The object of pruning is to give increased vigour to the plant, and to keep it within bounds; to make, if possible, a new plant each year, a new top to the old roots. And to do this, severe pruning is absolutely necessary. The harder the pruning, the stronger the growth.
Each variety should be pruned according to its growth. If very vigorous, they require less cutting back than those of moderate, or weakly growth.
H. Ps. will be pruned harder than either H. Ts. or Teas; the latter, on account of frost, will sometimes do with little pruning beyond cutting out all dead and weakly shoots, and shortening slightly the long straggling ones. In all cases do not allow the centre of the plant to be crowded. The H. Ps. as a rule, may be cut down to two or three eyes, leaving the very vigorous shoots of some kinds even five or six eyes; but all weak shoots must be cut down to the base of the plant. This pruning should be done in March, leaving the Teas till April. If in pruning the pith be found to be dark in colour, the shoot must be cut back. Sometimes it will be necessary to cut it quite away, if no light-coloured pith can be seen. Then a certain amount of pruning or thinning of the shoots is necessary in the spring, after the roses have started growing; three to six shoots only, according to the variety, should be left. A thinning again in autumn, of the shoots that have done their work, will give the later shoots a better chance of ripening.
=Manuring.=--Farmyard dung is the best of all fertilisers, and this should be used, as has been pointed out, when the beds are being made, so that there is plenty of good nutriment below the roots. Nitrate of soda and Guano, both soluble, may be sprinkled on the surface alternately once a week after the plants have begun to grow, and hoed in. Manure put on for a mulch in winter does little or no good. The very best and only mulch, winter and summer, is a loose soil surface; and for this the hoe must be kept at work, especially after rain or watering. A good liquid manure is made by putting a barrowful of fresh cow manure into a large barrel, _a big wine pipe_ is the thing; add soft water to thin it, put in a bag of soot, and fill up with rain-water. After settling, this will be ready for use. Liquid manure must not be given when the soil is dry, but only after rain or a good watering. Soot dusted over the beds is beneficial, and may also destroy a certain amount of Mildew. The drainage from the farmyard should not be allowed to waste, as is so often the case; but if well diluted it makes a good liquid manure. Do not apply the fertiliser close to the stem, but distribute over the whole ground. Remember when giving liquid manure the same rule holds good, "Strong meat for men, milk for babes."
Strong growing varieties will stand more than weak ones, and no liquid manure should be given to newly planted trees. A dressing of Basic Slag in the autumn is recommended.
=Pests.=--These are many, and the remedies are few and simple.
Caterpillars, large and small, must be hunted for daily and killed with finger and thumb from April to July, however unpleasant the process may be, or the most promising buds will be spoiled. For destroying Aphis, which are very troublesome some years, a solution made by boiling Qua.s.sia chips in water, and adding soft soap when cooling, is often used; though "finger and thumb" drawn gently up the stem when the insect is first seen, puts an end to those on the shoot; and finger and thumb is even recommended for destroying Mildew on its first appearance, though this cannot be done when there is a bad attack.
Nothing in my experience equals Flowers of Sulphur for Mildew, when distributed by an "Ideal" powder bellows. This should be done quite early in the morning, when there is a promise of a hot, sunny day. If the wind is not too strong, the Sulphur will float through the plants like a cloud of smoke, searching into every part. This should be repeated once a week, and even before there is a sign of Mildew on the leaves, prevention being better than cure. But I know no remedy that will quite destroy it.
=Exhibiting.=--If the grower wishes to exhibit his flowers, he should follow the instructions here given; and I would also advise the reading of the late Rev. A. Foster Melliar's book on exhibiting, and the Rev. J.
H. Pemberton's--both most excellent books--which enter more fully into particulars than s.p.a.ce allows me to do.
The number of shoots having been reduced, it will soon be time to gradually take away all the buds, except the centre bud and one other.
This also must be taken away, as soon as the centre bud looks healthy and free from damage. Very strong growers, like _Florence Pemberton_, and those varieties having a great number of petals, will do better if the buds are not much thinned, or they will be coa.r.s.e.
The N.R.S. definition of a good rose is: "The highest type of bloom is one which has form, size, brightness, substance, and good foliage, and which is at the time of judging in the most perfect phase of its possible beauty."
It will be necessary in the case of Hybrid Perpetuals to select the bud, which should be about three-quarters open, two days before the show (four or even five days for Teas), and to tie up, not tightly, the centre of the flower with Berlin wool, leaving the outer petals free, taking care that it is not wet with rain, or even dew. Bend the shoot down, if possible, and cover with a shade; some clean litter spread under dwarfs on the ground will keep the flower from being splashed by heavy rains. Teas are improved if covered with a cone of b.u.t.ter paper, as well as the shade; and some may be cut two days before the show, and if put in a dry, dark cellar, will remain in good condition. _Marechal Niel_ will improve in colour by being kept in the dark. The best time for cutting H. Ps. is from four to seven o'clock the evening before the show; they will lose a little in colour, but will stand longer than if cut before six o'clock on the morning of the show. Use garden scissors in preference to a knife. When getting the blooms, cut the stem five or six inches long, and remove the lower leaves, which only fill up the tube and do no good to the flower, and do not add to its appearance in the box. A receptacle with water should be taken round when cutting, and the flowers put in immediately and never allowed to become dry (the water must not be cold). The name should be attached at once.
The regulation size of the N. R. S. for rose boxes is "4 inches high in front and 18 inches wide, and of the following lengths (all outside measurements). For 24 blooms, 3 ft. 6 ins. long; for 18 blooms, 2 ft. 9 ins. long; for 12 blooms, 2 ft. long; for 9 blooms, 1 ft. 6 ins. long; for 6 blooms, 1 ft. long; for 8 trebles, 3 ft. 6 ins. long; for 6 trebles, 2 ft. 9 ins. long; for 4 trebles, 2 ft. long." The lid should have a depth of 9 inches to allow room for the blooms. Boxes are supplied at a moderate price by John Pinches, 3 Crown Buildings, Crown Street, Camberwell, who also supplies tubes, wire holders, and shades; they can also be obtained from horticultural firms. The tray of the box should be covered with moss. When the roses are all arranged for the night, give a little air by putting a prop under the lid, and leave the box in a cool place. When the boxes are placed on the show tables, lift the lids sufficiently high to get at the flowers. Each tube should be lifted and the rose raised, taking care that the stem is in the water.
All damaged outer petals must be removed, and the flower if full with substance in it, may have the wool removed. a.s.sist the opening of the blooms with a camel's hair brush. A gentle puff with the mouth at the centre will loosen tightly packed petals. Care must be taken when "dressing" a bloom, not to alter its character; for this, according to N. R. S., "shall count as a bad bloom." The ties must not be removed from the thin ones (those with few petals) until the last minute, when it is time to remove the lids. It will be necessary to take a few extra blooms in different stages of growth, to replace any in the box that have expanded; for a rose showing an eye gains no point. Care must be taken that there are no duplicates, but all distinct according to "schedule." Once exhibit at an important show, and many lessons will be learnt which can only be learnt there and then.
A SELECTION OF THE BEST EXHIBITION ROSES
Alfred Colomb A. K. Williams Bob Davison Captain Hayward Charles Lefebvre Commandant Felix Faure Comte Raimbaud Dr. Andry Duke of Wellington Dupuy Jemain Fisher Holmes Francois Michelon Frau Karl Druschki Helen Keller Horace Vernet Hugh d.i.c.kson Hugh Watson Marie Baumann Mrs. c.o.c.ker Mrs. John Laing Mrs. Sharman Crawford Prince Arthur Suzanne Marie Rodocanachi Ulrich Brunner Victor Hugo
Bessie Brown Caroline Testout C. J. Grahame Countess of Derby Countess of Gosford Dean Hole Earl of Warwick Florence Pemberton George Laing Paul J. B. Clarke Kaiserin Augusta Victoria Killarney La France Lady Ashtown Lady Helen Vincent Lady Moyra Beauclerk Mme. Melanie Soupert Marquise Litta Mildred Grant Mrs. G. W. Kershaw Mrs. John Bateman Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt Mrs. W. J. Grant Perle von G.o.desberg Princesse Marie Mertchersky Queen of Spain William Shean Yvonne Vacherot
Anna Olivier Auguste Comte Bridesmaid Catherine Mermet Cleopatra Comtesse de Nadaillac Ernest Metz Innocent Pirola Mme. Constant Soupert Mme. Cusin Mme. de Watteville Mme. Hoste Mme. Jules Gravereaux Maman Cochet Marechal Niel Medea Mrs. Edward Mawley Mrs. Myles Kennedy Muriel Grahame Souv. d'Elise Vardon Souv. de Pierre Notting Souv. de S. A. Prince Souv. d'un Ami The Bride White Maman Cochet
 See Chapter I, "Making the Beds."
 See Chapter II.
 See Chapter I, and above, p. 152.
 See Chapter X.
 See above.
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