The Perpetual Damask Roses as Written by Thomas Rivers
The Perpetual Damask Rose
(Rosier Damas à Fleurs Perpétuelles)
This division has as much variety in its origin as in its appearance; it would indeed, be a difficult task to trace the parentage of some of the justly esteemed varieties of this family. Our old red and white monthly roses have, no doubt, contributed their share of sweet assistance; for, in many of them, the powerful fragrance of these two very old damask roses is apparent, and no perfume can be more pleasing.
Bernard, or Pompon Perpetual, is a most beautiful rose, with rather small flowers; but these are very double and finely shaped, of a delicate pink tinted with salmon, and very fragrant. This rose will flourish better on the Manetti stock than on the Dog Rose: it is a most desirable rose.
The Crimson Perpetual, Rose du Roi, or Lee's Crimson Perpetual, deserves a few extra words of comment. This fine rose was raised from seed, in 1812, in the gardens of the palace of St. Cloud, then under the direction of Le Comte Lelieur, and named Rose du Roi; owing, I suppose, to Louis the Eighteenth soon after that time being restored, and presenting an opportunity for the Court gardeners to show their loyalty: it is not recorded that its name was changed during the hundred days to Rose de l'Empereur! It is asserted that it was raised form the Rosa Portlandica, a semi-double bright coloured rose, much like the rose grown in this country as the Scarlet Four Seasons or Rosa Paestana; which Eustace tells us, in his Classical Tour, grows among the ruins of Paestum, enlivening them with its brilliant autumnal flowers. This proves to be a traveller's tale.*(see note)
Every gentleman's garden ought to have a large bed of Crimson Perpetual Roses, to furnish bouquets during August, September, and October: their fragrances is so delightful, their colour so rich, and their form so perfect.
In France the Crimson Perpetual bears seed abundantly, but its produce are, for the most part, varieties partaking largely of rosa gallica; it is, however, like our excellent Provence Rose, liable to sport: in this way it produced the Rose Bernard, and more recently a good variety has been originated in the same manner; but like most good roses, it has more than one name. Rose de Roi à fleurs pourpres is its legitimate appellation. A cultivator in France, un peu de charlatan, named it Mogador, soon after the French victory over the Moors. It has proved, indeed, a superb rose: colour, brilliant crimson, slightly shaded with purple; shape, cupped and elegant: its flowers are, perhaps, a little more double than those of its parent; and its habit is more robust. Laurence de Montmorency is a good rose; flowers, very large, cupped, finely-shaped, and very double; colour, deep rosy pink, tinted with lilac. I observe that the foliage has lost the downy appearance of the Damask rose; thus showing its
departure from the habits of the family; another remove, and it would have been placed with justice among the Hybrid Perpetuals. Madame Thelier is a delicate and pretty rose; colour, pink; flowers, middle-sized; habit, rather delicate stock.
Julie de Krudner and La Favorite are nearly of the same delicate pink, and are very fragrant and pretty. Celina Dubos, a white, or nearly white, rose of this group, is really worthy of attention, both from its origin and quality. It is said to have been originated from a sporting branch of Crimson Perpetual; its flowers are well shaped, very durable, and highly fragrant.
*Note- Forms of Rosa damascena, which have been preserved on murals at Pompeii, survived the destruction of the city in 79A.D. Botanists have been unable to find a living specimen in the area. The native Rosa sempervirens is the only known rose to survive.
Culture and Pruning
As the culture of this class of roses is at present but imperfectly understood, I shall give the result of my experience as to their cultivation, with suggestions to be acted upon according to circumstances. One peculiar feature they nearly all possess-a reluctance to root when layered; consequently, Perpetual Damask Roses, on their own roots, will always be scarce: when it is possible to procure them, they will be found to flourish better on dry poor soils than when budded, as at present. These roses require a superabundant quantity of food: it is therefore perfectly ridiculous to plant them on dry lawns, to suffer the grass to grow close up to their stems, and not to give them a particle of manure for years. Under these circumstances, the best varieties, even the Rose du Roi, will scarcelyever give a second series of flowers. To remedy the inimical nature of dry soils to this class of roses, an annual application of manure on the surface of the soil is quite necessary. The ground must not be dug,
but lightly pricked over with a fork in November; after which, some manure must be laid on, about two or three inches in depth, which ought not to de disturbed, except to clean the hoe and rake, till the following autumn. This, in some situations, in the spring months, will be unsightly: in such cases, cover with some nice green moss, as directed in the culture of Hybrid China Roses. I have said that this treatment is applicable to dry poor soils; but even good rose soils it is almost necessary; for it will give such increased vigour, and such a prolongation of the flowering season, as amply to repay for the labour bestowed. If the soil be prepared, as directed, they will twice in the year require pruning; in November, when the beds are dressed, and again in the beginning of June. In the November pruning, cut off from every shoot of the preceding summer's growth about two-thirds; if they are crowded , remove some of them entirely. If this autumnal pruning is attended to, there will be, early June, the
following summer, a vast number of luxuriant shoots, each crowned with a cluster of buds. Now, as June roses are always abundant, a little sacrifice must be made to ensure a fine autumnal bloom; therefore, leave only half the number shoots to bring forth their summer flowers, the remainder shorten to about half their length. Each shortened branch will soon put forth buds; and in August and September the plants will again be covered with flowers. In Perpetual Roses of all classes, the faded flowers ought immediately to be removed; for in autumn the petals do not fall off readily, but lose their colour and remain on the plant, to the injury of the forthcoming buds. Though I have recommended them to be grown on their own roots, in dry soils, yet, on account of the autumnal rains dashing the dirt upon their flowers when close to the ground, wherever possible to make budded roses grow, they ought to be preferred; for, on stems from one to two feet height the flowers will not be soiled; they are also brought
near to the eye, and the plant forms a neat and pretty object.
The Crimson, and, indeed, nearly all Perpetuals, force admirable; for this purpose it is better to graft or bud them on Manetti Rose, as it is so easily excited. Those who wish for the luxury of forced roses, at a trifling cost, may have them by pursuing the following simple method: - Take a common garden frame, large or small, according to the number of roses wanted; raise it on some posts, so that the bottom edge will be about three feet from the ground at the back of the frame, and two feet in front, sloping to the south. If it is two feet deep, this will give a depth of five feet under the lights, at the back of the frame, which will admit roses on little stems as well as dwarfs. Grafted or budded plants of any of the Perpetual Roses should be potted in October, in a rich compost of equal proportions of rotten dung and loam, in pots about eight inches deep, and even seven inches over, and plunged in the soil at bottom. The air in the frame may be heated by linings of hot dung; but care must be taken
that the dung be turned over two or three times before it is used, otherwise the rank and noxious steam will kill the young and tender shoots; but the hazard of this may be avoided, by building a wall or tuft, three inches thick, from the ground to the bottom edge of the frame. This will admit the heat through it, and exude the steam. The Perpetual Roses, thus made to bloom early, are really beautiful. They may also be forced in any description of forcing-houses with success. It will at once give an idea how desirable these roses are, when it is stated that, by retarding and forcing, they may be made to bloom for eight months in the year.
Perpetual Damask Roses do not bear seed in this country (England) freely, but Mogador may be planted near and fertilized with the Common Bourbon. An attempt to obtain a mossy Crimson Perpetual might be made by planting and fertilizing the Crimson Perpetual with the Single Common Moss. In the cultivation of roses and many other gardening operations, we must never really despair.
Text from Rivers' Rose Amateurs Guide by Thomas Rivers, 1854