Wednesday, 26 February 2020


                                             GOOD TIME TO PLANT ROSES

Roses have been in and out of favour all my gardening life. I have always been a rose lover and never had a garden without them, but just like fashion they have their moments, then everything changes. Sixty years ago they were very much in favour, but relatively expensive.
John waters climbing rose Dublin Bay
They were a means to brighten up towns, and parks departments all over UK grew them and planted them by the thousands. Aberdeen’s Anderson Drive was famous for its roses and Dundee planted them in Parks and housing estates. In my apprenticeship training we spent summer in Camperdown nursery
Rose Dawn Chorus
budding thousands of roses. It was a great time, brilliant training and a lot of fun. Roses were also used (the very vigorous and thorny types) as barriers and hedgerows to prevent access in various places. In my early years working in many parts of Scotland and England I always bought a
hundred briar as rootstocks to grow my own plants. Roses tended to suffer from mildew, blackspot, rust and greenfly, but there was always a chemical to use to keep these under control. Plant breeders were always bringing out new varieties to try. Time has moved on and everything changes. Most chemicals of yesterday are no longer in use, though there is still some safe chemicals available to keep pests and diseases under control. Plant breeders now look for diseases resistance for new roses as most folk no longer bother to spray. Fashion in gardening has also changed as the
Rose Gaujard
generation are less keen on gardening, and as they all have one or two cars they need somewhere to park them, so front gardens are disappearing. People now want easy to maintain smaller gardens with permanent planting easy to look after, so now roses are coming back into favour. Once planted in good soil they can last for years if helped by some good pruning, and an annual dressing of
fertiliser. Late winter is a perfect time to order in roses as bare root plants, but today interest in gardening for most folk begins in spring. At this time garden centres are just packed with container grown roses all with colourful labels, but if you wait a wee bit longer you can see them in bloom when you can select your favourite colours and hopefully some with a good rose scent. As these plants are permanent make
Rose Myriam
sure the ground is well prepared in advance. For dedicated gardeners this means double digging, especially if soil has a high clay content, incorporating well rotted
compost as digging proceeds, but for others digging as deep as you can to help drainage will always keep the bushes happy. Plant bushes at same depth as in pots and for bare root bushes plant with crown at ground level. Suckers on roses are no longer a problem as growers have changed
rootstocks to those that no longer send up suckers. Cut new plants by about half after planting to
encourage them to branch. Use Floribunda and Hybrid Tea types for beds, shrub roses for bigger borders and perimeter hedges and climbers to grow up walls. Pruning of all types is usually aimed at replacing older wood with younger wood, where ever possible.
Although over time we all find our favourites, rose nurseries will always have a few new varieties to try out every year. My criteria is always firstly to see a good shaped flower with pleasing colour and scent and must have healthy disease resistant foliage. I have bought a lot of new roses in the past, only to dig them out a few years later as disease wipes out the leaves. Last year was very dry early on so mildew and greenfly became a huge problem, then the rain arrived and forgot to go off, so blackspot and rust took over. Hopefully 2020 will be better. I’ve added a few photos of my
favourite bushes, E H Morse, Dawn Chorus, Arthur Bell, shrubs Ispahan and climbers, Dublin Bay and Gertrude Jekyll, but these can always change as new roses are tried out.

Wee jobs to do this week

Stored crops in February
Check over fruit and vegetables in store. Onions and pumpkins can store for months, but apples need checking as some begin to shrivel, and potatoes begin to sprout even in a cold garage as the mild weather keeps temperatures too high for good storage. Parsnips, swedes and leeks are best left in the ground and dug up as needed. Cabbage, sprouts and kale are also just fine outdoors over winter. Kale putting on excellent top growth in the mild winter.


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