Monday, 27 November 2017



Roses were at their most popular about fifty years ago. No garden was complete without a few roses, and Dundee Parks department propagated them by the thousands every year for brightening up the parks, town centre and outdoor landscapes. They were also functional used to deter trespass with varieties like Rosa omeiensis pteracantha with
Anna relaxing beside rose Gertrude Jekyll
spectacular thorns totally covering the stems. As air pollution improved over the years rose diseases gained a foothold as the pollution had acted as a mild fungicide. Unfortunately so many varieties suffered severe loss of leaves from blackspot, rust and mildew that they were not worth growing. Rose breeders
Rose Dearest
were left with the task of finding new varieties with strong disease resistant foliage while still having attractive flowers and a scent where ever possible. I have grown hundreds of different varieties over the years, and discarded very many, but there is still a good roses well worth growing and every year new varieties appear in nurseries and garden centers to try out.
Roses come in many forms from miniature to bush (floribundas and hybrid teas) then shrubs, climbers and ramblers, so you can choose a plant to suit any occasion. Always buy from a reputable source and keep your receipt and the label. I have had several purchases where the plant did not reflect the label. One lovely red bush rose turned out to be a disease prone pink rose, and a dazzling yellow Julie Goodyear from a local garden centre does not seem to exist except in my garden.
Rose Julie Goodyear
Roses can be grown against walls, fences, up pergolas, or in borders as miniatures, bushes or if you have plenty of room free standing shrubs. Make sure you read about the ultimate size as some can be quite enormous. My climbing Mme Alfred Carrier wrecked my six foot fence then stretched well over twenty feet in every direction. However it is such a beauty that I cut it back to young shoots about six feet long so it can have another lease of life for a few more years.
I grow a deep red Dublin Bay on my south wall of the house and it flowers all summer from ground to twelve feet tall making a spectacular show, but unfortunately it has no scent. Another shrub rose I converted to a climber is the pink scented Gertrude Jekyll which never lets you down. It gets a wee bit of mildew, but nothing severe and greenfly can be a problem, but a couple of insecticide sprays sorts them out. It is a real show stopper on the house wall on
Sophie with scented roses
our patio.
Another of my favourite shrub roses, Ispahan has quite disease free foliage and is a mass of old English pink flowers in summer, but it can grow ten feet tall so either keep it pruned or if you have the space let it grow naturally.
Bush varieties are numerous in all colours and dependable varieties include the pinks Dearest and Myriam, the red scented E H Morse,
Climbing rose Dublin Bay
the bicolors Piccadilly and Rose Gaujard, the golden yellow Arthur Bell and Julie Goodyear (if it exists), and my best orange is Dawn Chorus.
Roses are propagated commercially by budding, but the home gardener can propagate roses with hardwood cuttings about 9 inches long, taken in the dormant season and lined out six inches apart with half the cutting buried in the soil. They should be ready for replanting the following winter.
Roses grow best on fertile clay soil provided it is well drained. Always dig deep and add plenty of compost as the bushes will last ten or more years. Plant about eighteen inches apart and add some fertilizer in spring to give growth a boost.
Amaryllis just potted up

Wee jobs to do this week

Amaryllis bulbs can be potted up now for flowering 7 to 10 weeks later. Pot them up in pots just slightly larger than the bulb using good potting compost. Leave one third of the bulb above the compost surface. Keep in a light warm spot and do not over water. The strong flower spike arrives before the leaves. After flowering keep the plant watered and fed to build up bulb strength so it can flower the next year, but it needs a good two months dormant period so slowly dry off in September. It can spend the summer months outdoors in a sheltered spot.


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