Thursday, 4 February 2016



Fifty year ago every decent garden had roses in beds, growing along fences, growing up walls and a few tall shrub roses along garden boundaries. However, time moves on and life changes. Chemicals previously used to combat black spot, mildew and rust are no longer available so these diseases are now running rampart through many great varieties. Roses have lost their appeal and now plant breeders have a struggle to bring in a new roses with great floral merit, scented flowers and healthy leaves with built in disease resistance. I have discarded a lot of bush and shrub roses recently, but fortunately there are still a few good ones left. Some still get attacked, but seem to survive and still flower just fine. There is still some rose fungicides available which I use for those such as the white scented Margaret Merril which I do not want to lose.

Other favourites still in my garden include the red scented E H Morse, the bicolour Piccadilly, Arthur Bell, a great yellow, the orange Dawn Chorus and the pinks Wendy Cussons, Myriam and Congratulations. Two great reds are Ingrid Bergman which has some scent and National Trust with a perfect rose flower shape but no scent.
New varieties appear every year so it is wise to try out something new and most garden centres display them in pots during the early flowering season so you can see the flower, smellthem to see if  it has a scent and see if the foliage looks healthy.
My best shrub roses include the very old pink Ispahan, the pink striped Rosa mundi and Gertrude Jekyll, another scented pink shrub rose which I train as a climber. My other climbers which have given me great value, brilliant displays and very little disease is the red Dublin Bay, now twelve foot tall and Mme. Alfred Carrier at least eighteen feet tall. It really needs a massive amount of space and takes a lot of work with pruning and tying in.

Planting new roses
Roses are permanent plants so need a lot of ground preparation prior to planting to improve the soil structure and drainage. New ground for roses should be double dug incorporating plenty manure or compost, and then dusted with a slow release organic fertiliser such as bone meal. Choose a good day for planting and don’t plant the bushes too deep. A compost mulch applied in spring is very beneficial. Planting bare root bushes can be done any time from November to March, but container grown bushes can be planted all year round as long as they are watered in any dry spells.
Prune shoots after planting, by removing about half the growth to encourage new growth.
Pruning existing roses
With bush roses remove weak shoots, some old wood and trim others by about a third to an outward facing bud. Shrub roses only need tidying up of old shoots trailing on the ground and periodically remove some old wood to encourage fresh new shoots.
Climbing roses need the most attention as they grow so tall and put on a lot of growth, but the principle is the same. Remove all weak shoots, try and remove some old shoots every year, but only lightly prune last years shoots as these will flower this year. Remove any shoot growing away from the wall if it cannot be tied in. Space out and tie in long shoots so they all have plenty of room.
Wee jobs to do this week

A cold frosty day is often a good time to prune the raspberries as the weather restricts gardening in other places. Autumn fruited varieties are the easiest as they are cut back to a few buds at ground level. New shoots emerge in spring, grow tall in summer then fruit from August onwards. Summer fruiting varieties fruit on canes grown the previous year so all last years fruited canes are removed down to the ground. They are easy to recognise as they are brown rather than green and they are all tied in rather than loose. Tie in the new canes with a running knot spacing them four inches apart along the top wire.


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