When it comes to roses, the heart so eas­ily rules the head. But we can all en­joy the world’s most ro­man­tic flower with­out pain or hard labour. SUE LINN takes a prag­matic look at roses.

Go Gardening - - Roses -

Ev­ery win­ter as I pick the thorns from my fin­gers, I tell my­self it’s time to ra­tio­nalise my rose col­lec­tion. Then spring comes around and I’m in love all over again, fill­ing vases with colour and perfume and pick­ing bunches for friends. Each spring another ir­re­sistible pur­chase or two finds its way home from the gar­den cen­tre. All re­solve goes out the win­dow. A few months later when late­sum­mer pests and dis­eases es­ca­late, I'm glad my roses are tucked around a cor­ner away from the main gar­den view.

Ev­ery rose has its thorn as the say­ing goes, but some roses are in­fin­itely eas­ier to grow than oth­ers and truly give bang for their buck. The trick is to choose va­ri­eties that give a very long flow­er­ing sea­son and flour­ish with­out ask­ing for any fussy prun­ing or spray­ing.

Dis­ease re­sis­tance is top pri­or­ity. Many old fash­ioned and wild va­ri­eties of roses are very trou­ble free. The best of the old ram­blers can go years with­out prun­ing. Any an­cient va­ri­ety that’s pre­vailed through the cen­turies and is still grown to­day has re­mained in favour for good rea­son. Many of them have great dis­ease re­sis­tance.

In the age of smaller gar­dens, how­ever, we want th­ese at­tributes on smaller plants that flower for even longer. To meet that need, the best of those old rose genes have been bred into modern roses. The most fa­mously dis­ease re­sis­tant are the Flower Car­pet roses, which can be grown with­out spray­ing and of­fer a wide choice of colours and growth habits. Their flowers evoke the ro­man­tic old style but there are a lot more of them over a much longer flow­er­ing sea­son and they’ll slot eas­ily into in any sized gar­den.

No nonsense prun­ing is the other thing that makes shrub and ground cover roses so easy. Us­ing hedge shears they are sim­ply and quickly cut back to a third their size in late win­ter or early spring to main­tain their size and pro­mote a fresh flush of rich shiny fo­liage and flowers.

Modern shrub and ground cover roses are so free flow­er­ing, easy and in­ex­pen­sive to main­tain that they have be­come among the most pop­u­lar flow­er­ing plants for public gar­dens. But they’re just as per­fect for home gar­dens, whether that is as a ground cover shrub, a mini weep­ing ‘tree’, a wall plant or fence em­bel­lish­ment, or as a colour­ful con­tainer plant.


Dis­ease re­sis­tance Ease of prun­ing Com­pact growth (short in­tern­odes) Self-clean­ing petal drop (no dead-head­ing re­quired) Pro­lific flow­er­ing (more flowers and longer flow­er­ing pe­ri­ods)


All roses re­ward us for feed­ing them with strong shiny dis­ease re­sis­tant growth and more flowers.

Feed them in spring and au­tumn and wa­ter them over summer. Deep in­fre­quent wa­ter­ing is prefer­able to a daily sprin­kle that only wets the sur­face. Roses grown in pots need ex­tra wa­ter­ing and feed­ing with con­trolled re­lease fer­tiliser.

TOP LEFT: Flower Car­pet White FAR LEFT: Old Rosa Mundi was first cat­a­logued in 1583 LEFT: Rosa ru­gosa Roseraie de l’Hay Flower Car­pet Pink Splash


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