I never promised you a rose gar­den E

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - GREEN SPACES - with Han­nah Stephen­son

VERY­THING is bloom­ing in the rose gar­den this year, thanks to the mild win­ter and spring, with lit­tle in the way of frost, pro­vid­ing stress-free con­di­tions for grow­ing.

Va­ri­eties look­ing par­tic­u­larly stun­ning in­clude ‘Su­per Trouper', ‘You're Beau­ti­ful', ‘Aphrodite' and ‘Lady of Shalott', as well as English old rose hy­brids such as ‘Gertrude Jekyll' and ‘Darcey Bus­sell'.

While they once used to be grown on their own in ded­i­cated beds, they're now grown in mixed borders with other shrubs and peren­ni­als, but given the huge va­ri­ety of roses on sale you have to be care­ful what to plant and where to achieve the best re­sults.

Com­pact roses with an up­right habit are suit­able for small gar­dens where beds are only 1m (40in) wide, so choose com­pact flori­bun­das, pa­tio roses and smaller English roses.

For larger borders you'll get a great ef­fect plant­ing less vig­or­ous va­ri­eties in threes which will grow to­gether to ap­pear like one big shrub, while larger shrub roses are best planted singly fur­ther back in the bor­der.

Good plant part­ners in­clude clema­tis, which can climb through the roses and also en­joy the same con­di­tions and sim­i­lar feeds, while in mixed borders soften roses with airy spec­i­mens such as cat­mint or laven­der, which look amaz­ing be­neath creamy rose flow­ers, or mix it up with lady's man­tle (Al­chemilla mol­lis) and peren­nial gera­ni­ums. If you want a longer sea­son, it's worth look­ing for re­peat-flow­er­ing shrub roses such as Port­land or English roses from David Austin which com­bine the flower form of old shrub roses with the re­peat-flow­er­ing qual­ity of many mod­ern va­ri­eties.

So, how do we keep our roses bloom­ing?

By midsummer the first flush is usu­ally com­ing to an end, so you'll need to tidy up shrub and bush va­ri­eties by dead-head­ing and re­mov­ing clus­ters of faded flow­ers. When the flow­ers of flori­bun­das and hy­brid tea roses have faded, re­move the whole truss, cut­ting the stem just above the sec­ond or third leaf down. This will help con­serve the plant's energy to bear a reg­u­lar suc­ces­sion of new flow­er­ing shoots.

They'll need to be fed with a dose of gran­u­lar fer­tiliser and wa­tered thor­oughly if the ground is dry.

Keep a look out for signs of fun­gal dis­ease in­clud­ing black spot and mildew.

They may need spray­ing regularly with a fungi­cide to keep dis­eases at bay and also look out for colonies of aphids on the stems, which will also re­quire spray­ing as black­fly and green­fly pop­u­la­tions can build up rapidly.

If you only have a small in­fes­ta­tion, a sharp jet of wa­ter should dis­lodge the aphids, or you may be able rub them off the af­fected area. Oth­er­wise, use an or­ganic pes­ti­cide based on plant ex­tracts, soft or in­sec­ti­ci­dal soap or plant oils.

Make sure that the area is kept well-weeded and that sur­round­ing shrubs and peren­ni­als don't swamp them as they grow, cut­ting or ty­ing back con­flict­ing shoots and branches.

If you dead-head them now, re­peat-flow­er­ing roses should bloom again in late sum­mer pro­vid­ing you fed them ear­lier on in the sea­son.

Many hy­brid teas pro­duce more than one flower bud at the end of each shoot. If you want large spec­i­men blooms for gar­den dis­play or in­door ar­range­ments, you'll need to dis­bud, re­mov­ing side buds by nip­ping out with the thumb and fin­ger as soon as they are vis­i­ble.

If you want cut roses for in­side, don't take more than a third of the flow­er­ing stem with the flower and al­ways cut just above an out­ward-fac­ing bud, so that you don't weaken the bush. Don't cut flow­ers from new­ly­planted bushes in the first sea­son as the plants need time to es­tab­lish.

Hope­fully, a lit­tle TLC will lead to re­peat-flow­er­ing blooms and a de­li­cious heady fra­grance dur­ing those balmy sum­mer evenings.

PA Photo/Roger Allen/RHS

The rose gar­den at RHS Gar­den Wis­ley

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