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The Rose Garden


The Rose GardenThe spinners of myth, legend, and poetry, from the shadows of antiquity to the present time, have shifted their shuttles many times to catch the thread of rain and sun, the tenderness of Mother Earth and a frozen echo of the Dawn, to weave the Rose, this best loved flower of the garden.

Six centuries before the coming of the Christ, Sappho suggests the glory of this flower when she states that "if Jupiter wished to give the flowers a queen, the Rose would be their queen."

Down through the centuries men have called on this flower to express their deepest feeling, and my friend John T. Roberts, in his poem "Confession," has given the Rose a new meaning:

Accept this Rose, sweet friend, and let it token
The thoughts that in my heart loiter unspoken.
If in its warm, bright texture you discover
More than mere friendship, could you call me lover?

The speech of words, as I have learned the art,
Is all too poor to voice the pulsing heart;
But when we find our language slow and weak
We call on Nature's forms and signs to speak.

The gray old hills are peace; the blue above,
Winking with stars, whispers a tale of love.
Lilies are purity; the birds are bliss;
The Rose is Heaven's utterance of a kiss.


Every town and city in our broad land might well have a community Rose garden. There is no doubt that, with such a community interest, the coming generations would develop a civic respect for things owned in common. We should also have a Rose garden in every little individual garden where there is a well-drained soil, sufficient sunshine, and fresh air.

What a silent breath of bliss is our wee Rose garden, covered with its misty veil of fragrance and, best of all, the quiet. That quiet where one may find rest and have an opportunity to think of and commune with Nature without interruption.
In order to have this Rose garden and quiet, one must become acquainted with certain fundamental principles and follow them carefully.

Fine blooms do not depend on great areas in which to grow Roses. We find that frequently the large space devoted to the culture of this flower is neglected while the limited space seems to attract more individual attention. While large areas, then, are not necessary, we do find, on the other hand, that the selection of location and the construction of the Rose bed are both most important factors which govern a successful production of bloom and keep the plants healthy and strong.
The Rose garden must be located in a place where the plants are protected from the severe cold and dry winds of winter, from the raw winds of spring, and from the hot withering winds of summer. Droughts are almost certain to destroy the flowers of the Rose and to injure the plant.

It has been found that a southern or southeastern exposure is the best. It is well to avoid planting Roses too close to shade trees or shrubs. First, because of the shade and, secondly, because both trees and shrubs make such demands on the moisture in the soil. The Rose should have not less than from five to six hours of sunshine each day. One must also avoid an excess of moisture in the soil. Roses will not thrive if planted in soil that is poorly drained, allowing the water to stand on the surface at any season. This point cannot be overemphasized. "Roses do not like wet feet." It is also true that the early and late frosts do considerable damage to the plants on water-soaked soil, and abet the development of the much-dreaded mildew on leaf and twig during the growing period.

Before preparing the soil, one must decide on the shape of the bed. There are straight, curved, oblong, round, and square forms from which to select. The matter of choice depends largely on the type of garden desired and also on individual likes. One thing is certain, the Rose bed should not be more than five feet wide. The plants should be within arm's length, without necessitating stepping on the bed in order to cultivate, weed, or pick. Many of the finest Rose beds are from four to four and one half feet wide with Roses spaced eight or ten inches apart, depending somewhat on the variety. After de­ciding on the shape of your Rose garden, its location and the spacing, the next step is to consider the soil.

Not all Roses like the same type of soil. For instance, the Hybrid Perpetuals and most of the hardy climbers do best in a fairly heavy, well-drained clay; while the Teas, Hybrid Teas, and Bourbons like a clay loam containing from one fourth to one half sandy loam. The Rugosas thrive very well in a sandy soil if it is well incorporated with humus in the form of decayed sod and decayed manure. But it is surprising how all of these various types of Roses will thrive in the same soil, provided that it is properly prepared.

When one wishes a Rose garden where there is a very stiff clay or almost a pure sand it is advisable to discard this soil and refill the bed with a compost that is best suited to the culture of your Roses. Where a compost must be used to fill in the Rose bed, it is safe to select a soil which is growing a good stand of Clover. About eight or ten inches of this surface soil and sod should be mixed with about one third well-rotted stable manure, and at the time of preparation a liberal amount of coarse bone meal should be scattered in. It is difficult to advise as to the amount of bone meal because there are so many grades of fertility in various types of soil. However, one will not go wrong if he apply about one pound of coarse bone meal to every wheelbarrow load of soil. Forty pounds of coarse bone meal mixed with each ton of manure makes an excellent fertilizer for Roses.

Cow manure is the best for Roses; horse manure, if the animals are bedded in straw, is second best; and sheep manure for a third choice. Do not fail to keep in mind that in all cases of soil selection there should be at least one third rotted manure and considerable decayed sod, if possible, mixed with the soil.

If there is a question of drainage, fill in the bottom of the trench, which may be excavated to a depth of two feet, with six inches of some coarse material such as cinders, small stone, or bits of broken brick. Next fill in sod and soil to a depth of four inches and then fill with the compost. The trench should be filled about two or three inches above the surface of the surrounding soil with corn, post so that, when the bed settles, it will be only sightly below the surface. Fresh manure should never be used. Compost the fresh manure at least six months before using.

It is good practice to allow the soil to stand for one or two weeks before planting so that it may settle and also allow the manure to break down and begin to yield available plant food.

One should not be discouraged when reading about the preparation of the Rose bed, costly as it may seem, because the majority of Roses will adapt themselves to a great variety of soils, provided that the soil is prepared by enriching and deep cultivation before planting. Many Roses in the first place make a root system which goes down only from twelve to fifteen inches. If your soil is well drained and a good application of well-rotted cow or horse manure is incorporated into the soil to a depth of from ten to twelve inches and the plants shifted early in the spring or after they are dormant in the fall, you are fairly sure of a good Rose garden. One must or should mulch the Rose bed with a little very well-rotted manure in June and keep the soil cultivated and free from weeds. If fresh cow manure is used as a mulch, water it heavily after it is applied to the surface of the soil. This washes the ammonia into the soil and prevents the burning of the lower leaves of the plant.

The question of fall or spring planting is a bit perplexing. Some of our best Rose growers prefer the fall planting because they claim the plants are dormant and the root system is in the soil ready for action before the surface soil is in a fit condition to work. There are other growers who claim that spring planting is desirable because there is less danger of winter killing the first year. Potgrown Roses may be planted out at any season except when the wood is soft; then they should not be planted out too late in the fall.

When ordering budded Roses from the nursery, insist on having them budded low. There is always a tendency to suckering if the stock wood is notburied from one to two inches below the bud union (indicated by a crook in the stem). Some claim that budded Roses produce more, larger, and better blooms than do many of our best varieties on their own roots. On the other hand, frequently the budded section of the Rose planted below the surface will strike root and the old root system slowly dies. The matter of burying budded Roses or Roses made from cuttings depends somewhat on variety and locality. Before selecting varieties and planting, consult some experienced Rose grower.

Two-year­old field-grown Roses are by far the hardiest plants to set out. If the plants come from any great distance, as from overseas, and the wood is dry and shrunken, it is advisable to dig a trench a foot or more deep, untie the bundles, and bury both root and stem below the surface in a moist soil for four or five days. If your Rose beds are not ready when your plants arrive, heel them into the soil at once, covering the root system to prevent its drying out.

Hybrid Teas and Tea Roses should be planted about eight or ten inches apart and Hybrid Perpetuals from two and one half to three feet, while most of our thrifty climbers require from five to six feet.

Most of our Roses, and especially the Teas and Hybrid Teas, are benefited by banking the soil about the bush to a depth of from six to ten inches. Do not fail to bank the soil about the Rose just before the soil is locked up by frost.

The long canes may be cut back a convenient length before wrapping them with straw or excelsior. With the small plants, fruit boxes or peach baskets may be inverted and placed over the Rose plant to prevent the destructive work of the winds. All tall Roses should be well staked before adding the protective covering. In some cases burlap is wrapped about the stake and straw in order to keep especially the tree Roses from becoming exposed. Evergreen boughs are used, but it seems a pity to use these green branches when other material is available.

If one has but a limited space and only one climber is possible, don't fail to consider the American Pillar or the Dr. W. Van Fleet.

We have but few varieties that are suitable to form a background for a border or a hedge. One reason why the Conrad Ferdinand Meyer stands first as a hedge Rose is that it grows vigorously and needs little attention. It is a gross feeder and needs a well-drained and rich clay soil. There are some ten thousand varieties of Roses, with probably one thousand varieties grown commercially. No two Rose growers agree as to the best varieties, and the following list is only a limited guide to those not acquainted with the various groups of Roses.