Alexandra Camp­bell starts a rose-tinted re­bel­lion

Alexandra Camp­bell de­cides it’s time to start a rose-tinted re­bel­lion.

The People's Friend - - This Week - Visit Alexandra’s blog on­line at www.themid­dle­sizedgar­den.co.uk.

THIS year I de­cided we need more roses in this gar­den. Although roses re­main the UK’S most beloved and pop­u­lar flower, they haven’t been fash­ion­able for a while.

Some gar­den­ers and gar­den de­sign­ers say that the rose is a beau­ti­ful flower but an ugly plant. Oth­ers point out that roses are par­tic­u­larly vul­ner­a­ble to pests and dis­eases, such as black spot or aphids.

But roses lift the spir­its in sum­mer, so I shall brave the fash­ion­istas and fun­gal dis­eases and plant more.

Novem­ber and Fe­bru­ary are the best time to plant bare-root roses, although you can plant con­tain­er­grown roses at any time.

You can buy dis­easere­sis­tant roses, and most newer va­ri­eties have some dis­ease re­sis­tance, but the RHS says that “fun­gus (e.g. black spot) is ge­net­i­cally very di­verse, so re­sis­tance bred into new va­ri­eties usu­ally fails to last be­cause new strains of the fun­gus arise to over­come it.”

A rose with inbred dis­ease re­sis­tance will take a few years to fall vic­tim to the new strains, so why not take the risk? Noth­ing lasts for ever, af­ter all.

This year I planted a new rose called “Bur­gundy Ice”. It flow­ered vig­or­ously all July. I then pruned it and have en­joyed a sec­ond lav­ish dis­play of beau­ti­ful dark red blooms from late Au­gust through to midOc­to­ber.

I will be very happy to get just a few years of such abun­dance, although many roses last for decades in good health.

If you want roses that will sur­vive any­thing, then species roses are a good choice. They’re the orig­i­nal wild roses from which gar­den roses were bred, and they’re very re­sis­tant to dis­ease.

They usu­ally have sin­gle flow­ers, tend to be thorny and are wildlife-friendly, with beau­ti­ful rose hips.

It’s not easy to search for species roses as such, but rose grow­ers such as David Austin Roses and Peter Beales (www.clas­si­croses.co.uk) have easy “how to choose your rose” forms on their web­sites.

Species roses usu­ally come up un­der “sin­gle flow­ered” or “dis­ease re­sis­tant”, and then you’ll see the word “species” in the name or de­scrip­tion.

I have a Rosa glauca species rose, and have also grown Rosa ru­gosa Roseraie de L’hay, a pop­u­lar species rose.

Species roses can be quite sprawl­ing, so if you want a more for­mal rose, search the dis­ease-re­sis­tant cat­e­gories on the web­sites and then plant it well.

Ev­ery­one knows rose re­plant dis­ease, which hap­pens when you re­place a rose in the same spot where an­other rose has grown. But you can avoid it.

Dig out the soil where the for­mer rose grew so that the hole is about 18 inches larger than the root ball was, and re­place with a mix of new soil and well-rot­ted ma­nure or com­post.

When plant­ing roses, use ei­ther rose fer­tiliser or my­c­or­rhizal fungi (such as Em­pa­thy Root­grow). Don’t use both, be­cause there are in­gre­di­ents in the fer­tiliser that stop the my­c­or­rhizal fungi work­ing.

My­c­or­rhizal fungi work as an ex­ten­sion to plants’ roots, and help in­crease the way they take in nu­tri­ents.

If your rose is grafted, then the knob­bly bit where the rose root has been joined to the main stem must be above the soil.

Once you’ve planted your rose, fol­low the prun­ing in­struc­tions (they’ll be on the la­bel, or ask the rose grower). Then, in spring, add rose fer­tiliser and cover with com­post or well-rot­ted ma­nure.

A well-fed, well-planted rose will re­sist dis­ease bet­ter. Wa­ter thor­oughly two to three times a week in the first two sum­mers to let it get its roots down.

Mean­while I have just or­dered three “Harry Wheatcroft” roses. These are 1970s car­ni­val-striped red and yel­low hy­brid tea roses, and have com­pletely fallen out of fash­ion. That should have the rose po­lice chok­ing over their cu­cum­ber sand­wiches. ■

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