If you love climbers and ramblers, you can depend on this book to stand as the definitive treatment for years to come.
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Roses differ enormously from place to place and from year to year. Height, colour, size, and hardiness too vary according to the climate. Climbing Hybrid Teas generally flower earlier in the season the hotter the climate. A rose such as "Albertine', which my fellow countrymen regard as hardy in any situation, will not survive the winter in Prague or Chicago. 'Climbing Peace' grows vigorously and flowers repeatedly in Cape Town, but is a bad grower and a worse bloomer in Ireland or Denmark. Each nation is concerned to breed roses which are suited to its climate. The America Rose Society in its early days had an evangalising spirit: "To nationalize the love for roses in America, with a rose for every home and a bush for every garden is our declared purpose" wrote its President Robert Pyle in 1921. This meant championing the development of new hardy roses which would be "as sturdy as our pioneer forefathers who tamed the Wild West."
There is surprisingly little information on the hardiness of climbing roses, although it is safe to say that no one in New York or Budapest could grow the Tea roses in chapter 6 except in a glasshouse. Any rose selected for the climate of central Europe by such breeders as Peter Lambert and Rudolph Geschwind, however, will be hardy in New England, just as the Pennsylvania Walter Van Fleet's Wichurana Ramblers will flourish in Berlin or Vienna.
Gardeners in Africa or Australia have the opposite problem — trying to work out what will do well for them in a climate which is much hotter, and often much drier, than European and American garden writers can comprehend. For the Australian rosarian Susan Irvine (1997) the problem is even more complicated: "It would be impossible to write accurately about growing roses 'in Australian conditions' because these conditions vary so radically." She found that in some of the harsher climatic zones of Australia, for instance Western Australia and far western Queensland, roses described as "delicate" in English books turned out to be robust. Irvine also discovered that in many parts of Australia the Tea roses are the most reliable.
Scent is difficult to quantify and describe, and everyone's perception of scent differs. Many people used to smoke tobacco, which affected their sense of smell; until recently, therefore, some roses have been described as scentless when in fact they are not. One of the the earliest descriptions of 'Sombreuil', for example, said that it had "odeur nul," although this was soon corrected by other writers (Le Journal des Roses et des Vegetales 1856). Some writers regard only the sweet damask fragrance of roses as a true scent, treating the musky scent as as if it did not exist, let alone give pleasure. I am wary of generalising about scents, but it does seem to me that most rose scents are sweet, foetid, musky, tealike, myrrhy, fruity, or combinations of these six types. I am also sceptical of those whose sense of smell seems to be influenced by colour. Graham Stuart Thomas, for example, tells us that 'Lady Hillingdon' smells of apricots. It may be an apricot-coloured rose, but it certainly does not smell of apricots to me.
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