In a good year roses are always the favourite for bright colour, scent and lovely shape of blossom, but in the last few years they have had a bit of a struggle with weird weather.
They enjoy a deep fertile clay soil that is well drained, weed free and with plenty organic matter added as a mulch or lightly forked in over winter. Then with decent weather, plenty warm sunny days and just enough rain to keep them happy they will put on a great display.
The wet winter added just a wee bit too much moisture and a few floods but then the rain went off as spring arrived and the sun came out for nearly three months. Unfortunately this favoured mildew which took hold and weakened the bushes.
At the same time the long sunny weather favoured plagues of greenfly which did the young shoots trying to grow no favours at all. The rains finally arrived in mid June but the weakened bushes were then subjected to blackspot disease.
The wet weather at the beginning of summer brought with it torrential rain and thunderstorms as well as gales. The poor roses trying to put on a show with their first flush, had no chance.
The gales, shredded the young leaves and broke the heads off numerous roses. Now at the end of June weather has settled down to the normal pattern of a few days rain and a few days sunshine so I am hoping the roses will put on a great show in their second flush.
Choose a dry day to give a spray of fungicide and pesticide to sort out any remaining greenfly, blackspot and mildew and add a bit fertiliser to give them a wee boost. Remove all old flowers before they form hips and cut back to the nearest young shoot or even further if leaves have a bad dose of blackspot fungus.
Now is a good time to visit garden centres which have all reopened and check out roses in pots for sale as they will all have some flowers on them. Roses can also be propagated from hardwood
cuttings in winter about six to ten inches long spaced about four inches apart and grown in a nursery row in the first year as they may not all grow.
Roses are very accommodating. They can be grown in prepared beds as bushes (floribundas and hybrid teas) up walls as climbers and along fences as ramblers. Shrub roses are also great to add height and structure at the rear of shrub borders adding security and privacy to the garden.
One of my favourites is Ispahan, a large shrub rose with scented pink flowers and healthy disease-free foliage. If you need added security try Rosa omiensis pteracantha, the red winged rose, an ornamental shrub rose with stems covered in huge red thorns. There are numerous climbers for all walls and even on the shaded north wall there are several climbers that will be happy to grow and flower.
Try some of the white flowered Mme Alfred Carrier, Climbing Iceberg, Claire Austin or
Alberic Barbier. For pink flowers try Albertine, New Dawn or Gertrude Jekyll a shrub rose but happy to be trained as a wall climber. Good yellow roses for north walls are Maigold and Golden Showers and good red ones include Paul’s Scarlet and Danse du Feu.
Rose E.H. Morse
We all have our favourite bush roses, but my list prefers those varieties bred with strong disease-resistant foliage, a trait still sadly lacking in numerous roses. My favourite reds include E H Morse, Ingrid Bergman and Deep Secret. Good yellow roses include Arthur Bell, Freedom and Golden Wedding. My best white rose is still Margaret Merril but still a bit prone to blackspot. Iceberg has always been the best white floribunda.
Myriam is a great pale pink and Congratulations a deeper pink and Dearest a great floribunda. My best orange rose is Dawn Chorus. Two good bicolour roses are Piccadilly and the old Rose Gaujard.
Wee jobs to do this week
Saskatoon berries are ripening up and our local blackbird is getting quite agitated as he knows the nets will appear and stop him getting his summer food source. Bushes are over six foot tall, but with tall posts and nets I can still make them secure. Where nets reach the ground I cover the ends over with soil as I’ve seen the blackie flick up the nets and limbo dance under them to get into his fruitful paradise. Saskatoons down south in Worcester have now been harvested due to a warmer climate.