Great weather means it’s a good year for roses, says John Stoa.
Rose growers could not have asked for better weather.
Provided the rose beds and borders got some irrigation, plant growth has been strong and very healthy, responding to our recent near tropical weather.
However, just when the first heat wave was ending and rain returned, so did the strong gales and damaged any long shoots on both bush and climbing rose.
Then the tropical weather returned and plants again just loved it.
I had thought that my tall climbing rose Dublin Bay was a goner as the gales broke off a lot of flowering shoots, but there was still plenty unopened buds ready to replace the losses. Similarly my shrub rose Gertrude Jekyll, which I train as a climber lost a lot of flowers, but still put on a great show.
It suffered a lot of greenfly infestations during May, but these got washed off while watering the garden and putting on a high pressure spray, carefully.
Roses have always created the main floral impact in summer, as I grow shrubs, climbers and bush types, though they may have lost the popularity they once held when in my youth.
They were a symbol of wealth for both gardeners, home owners and Leisure departments of towns.
Both Dundee and Aberdeen and many other towns grew and planted them by the thousand, but sadly today most have all vanished.
My early gardening experience in my training years, was to buy 100 Rosa canina rootstocks then with a broken pen knife, I budded them in summer and got over 80 bushes for my garden.
Several years later while studying at college in Chelmsford I did a project researching rose breeding and came across another rootstock, Rosa multiflora.
It was said to give far superior results, so I purchased another 100 and budded these. Commercially this rootstock would not be acceptable in the trade as the neck between roots and stem is too small making budding difficult and slowing down the budders, but my bushes were fantastic.
Each bush had more flowering shoots than normal, and each shoot had more flowers than normal.
My garden was a mass of colour.
Today growers prefer to use Rosa laxa as this does not sucker as much as Rosa canina.
Roses may not be so popular, but they are in my blood, so my garden would be empty without them.
Over the years the large number of rose varieties has been whittled down as any bush liable to infection from the common rose diseases would get discarded as chemicals used for their control have just about all been withdrawn.
There is still a few chemicals available for diseases of roses, but I tend to only grow those with strong healthy foliage able to withstand attacks of fungi.
Shrub roses now include Ispahan, Lavander Lassie, Wisley, Gertrude Jekyll and Rosa Mundi, though the recent gales blew Rosa Mundi over just as it was coming into flower.
Climbers able to stand up to diseases include Mme Alfred Carrier, Dublin Bay, Iceberg, Ena Harkness and the pink Morning Jewel.
Climbing Ena Harkness is a sport of the bush variety and suffers the same weak neck which can’t hold up the large deep red and scented flowers, but in the climbing form this is an advantage.
The flowers bend down so you can see them.
My favourite bush roses include, the yellow Arthur Bell, the red E H Morse, the white Iceberg and Margaret Merril, and pink Congratulations, Miriam and Dearest, and Piccadilly is a great bicolour as is Rose Gaujard.
For the perfect red rose bloom, National Trust almost fits the bill, but sadly it is not scented, whereas Fragrant Cloud has a great scent.
Super Star may have been the first orange rose way back in the sixties, but now Alexander and Dawn Chorus are the popular choices.
For the best scented rose try Wendy Cussons, a deep pink hybrid tea type, which won the Clay Vase for fragrance.
Wee jobs to do this week
Dead head rhododendron and azaleas, bedding plants in tubs and borders, herbaceous plants, roses, and sweet peas.
This encourages the plant to continue growing and producing more flowers rather than setting seeds.
Spray an insecticide on Rhododendrons and Camellias against scale growing on the underside of the leaves to prevent a build-up of sooty mould.