Rose diseases and pests, when listed, may appear a terrifying and discouraging array of troubles for a beginner in rose-growing, but he should remember that these are only some of the plant diseases present in Australia; that the rose overseas is attacked by diseases unknown to us here; that the rose is one of the most disease-resistant of all garden plants; and that, although it is helpful to be able to recognize each disease, none is of any serious consequence except rose wilt, mildew, black spot, aphis, thrips, the die-back-symptom group, the scales, and the caterpillars. These should be controlled to the best of one’s ability, and it is important to know which sprays or dusts to apply to get best results. It would be useless to apply a spray that may be very good in controlling mildew, believing that it is “good for roses”, and that it will, therefore, kill thrips, black spot, scales, and every other disease and pest that may or may not be affecting the roses. It is equally useless to spray at wrong times, or to fail to realize that some diseases can be avoided by prophylactic spraying, whereas no curative measures for them are of any value. Many rose-growers waste time, energy, and money on sprays, often doing more harm than good. Of course, others err in never spraying, but plants of other types in those gardens will be diseased as well as the roses.
With all the rose’s hardiness and adaptability to extremely diverse conditions of soils and climates some varieties do not thrive. In the case of new plants this is usually due to the grower’s lack of knowledge; in established plants it results much more commonly from over-attention than from neglect. The chief causes of failure are loose planting, insufficient water at planting time, planting too deeply, manuring at planting time, allowing roots to become dry after unpacking, soil being too acid or too alkaline, poor drainage, rose-sick soil, diseases, excessive manuring at any time, deep cultivation, excessive watering, heavy frost, sunburn, excessive shade, droughts, proximity to established big plants, unduly heavy pruning, use of artesian water, arsenic in sheep manure, and plants of poor quality or in poor condition when purchased. Most of these problems are discussed elsewhere, from the aspect of correct gardening. They .are grouped here to direct attention to the possible results of incorrect work, but unfortunately this arrangement makes some repetitions and many cross-references unavoidable. Loose planting is more fully discussed in Chapter XI. It is most common in heavy soil, where firmer pressure is needed to obliterate air pockets. If the holes are dug from heavy soil, and light loam is used round the roots when planting, the soil will be more compact, but there is apt to be a type of pit in which water will stagnate, with fatal results to the rose. The neighboring soil should have some light soil mixed in with it as well.
Roses and rose gardens need never be an extravagance, or be regarded as a luxury to be indulged in only by the wealthy members of a community. Actually, it seems that these people enjoy their roses in almost inverse ratio to the amount of money they lavish on them, and the results seldom persuade others to plant large areas under roses. Any garden can be almost a reflection of its owner. A garden of trees can be restful, peaceful, and almost lazy, but still very beautiful. A garden of annuals demands a great deal of minute attention, frequent watering, and exactitude in tidiness. Most of us find it imperative to consider some degree of economy in upkeep, design, and construction. A garden must be an integral part of a home. Any worry about expense and excessive work will spoil gardening as a hobby or as a source of satisfying enjoyment. The man who owns a garden and never works in it is missing one of the greatest things in life. The more he works among his plants the more he will understand and cherish them. He can spend relatively little money, and get great returns. This is true of rose gardens even more than of other kinds. There are many gardens where the cost of the rose plants has been a small item compared with that of pergolas, arches, rest huts, stone paving, and statuary, most of which are not only quite unnecessary, but often detract from the beauty of the garden. Fortunate is the man whose daily task is from 9 a.m. till 5 p.m. five days a week, for he can be in his garden at the best times of the day and all through the week-end, if he so chooses. He knows every individual plant and its behavior; he gets to know his roses as changing, living creatures. It is a knowledge that cannot be gained in any other way. He enjoys every bloom, the revitalizing of his plants by the removal of old wood, the stimulating of new growth by removal of flowers and by watering and manuring, the tidying of his climbers, the improvement of his soil, and even the preparing of his compost. It is all enjoyment to him, and for that reason he must never plant so many roses that they become a burden to him. There is always the temptation to add a few more each winter, but no man who attends a daily calling can care for more than four or five hundred plants, and very few can manage more than half that number. Excessive zeal can lead to an excessive number of plants, and then to excessive work, with final loss of interest.