En­joy your roses this month when they are at their beau­ti­ful best, but beware of the dis­eases hov­er­ing like witches about to strike!

NZ Gardener - - Contents -

Bar­bara Lea Tay­lor on com­mon rose dis­eases and what to do about them.

There have been in the past – and there still are – many roses that are fash­ion­able for a year or two and then dis­ap­pear be­cause of their sus­cep­ti­bil­ity to dis­eases. Re­cently I read a let­ter writ­ten in 1887 by the Sec­re­tary of the Christchurch Hor­ti­cul­tural So­ci­ety. In it, he listed roses grown in Can­ter­bury at that time and com­mented on their har­di­ness or lack of it. Out of al­most 100 roses men­tioned, I can find only a dozen or so that are grown to­day. Not all would have suc­cumbed to dis­eases; some would sim­ply have been su­perceded by bet­ter roses. It fol­lows, how­ever, that the old roses we grow to­day are hardy sur­vivors and de­serve a lit­tle ef­fort on our part to keep them at their best.

Roses grown in good con­di­tions have a head start.

But there are sea­sons when aphids, black spot, rust and mildew can de­scend on the best of gar­dens. Whether or not you use

chem­i­cal sprays de­pends on your gar­den­ing phi­los­o­phy. I’m not par­tic­u­larly happy about some of them but I do use them if I have to. The longer I gar­den, the less I’m pre­pared to be dog­matic. Gar­den­ing is 50 per cent magic any­way. But it helps if we recog­nise a prob­lem early – and do some­thing about it. The two most com­mon prob­lems at this time of year are black spot and rust.

Black spots ap­pear on the leaves and grow rapidly un­til the leaves turn yel­low and fall. You are left with a de­fo­li­ated, weak­ened bush. When the first black spot ap­pears, I for­get all about or­ganic gar­den­ing and reach for the ap­pro­pri­ate spray. It is also vi­tal to col­lect and burn all fallen leaves. If they are left at the base of the rose, spores of the dis­ease will mul­ti­ply – and thou­sands will be ready to at­tack next spring. Check that the af­fected roses are grow­ing in good soil and have ad­e­quate nour­ish­ment.

Rust is an­other com­mon prob­lem. Or­ange spots that grad­u­ally turn brown ap­pear on the un­der­side of leaves and spread rapidly over the en­tire plant. As soon as you no­tice it, re­move all in­fected leaves and burn them. Some roses are par­tic­u­larly sus­cep­ti­ble and you might have to de­cide whether they are worth keep­ing.

It is hard to pick a favourite rose when the gar­den is full of spring de­lights.

But I love to see my two old favourites in bloom. The lovely ‘Lucetta’ was in­tro­duced in 1983 by David Austin. Soft­est pink blooms are large and loosely dou­ble with prom­i­nent golden sta­mens, and are held pret­tily in clus­ters. Ev­ery­thing about ‘Lucetta’ is large – the bush is tall with long, arch­ing branches which means it is happy against a trel­lis, wall or fence, and can be treated as a grace­ful shrub­climber. My all-time favourite is the lovely old Tea rose ‘Jean Ducher’, in­tro­duced in 1900. Big dou­ble blooms that sit like loosely folded silk in the soft­est peachypink with a tinge of ivory, few thorns, an up­right grace­ful habit of growth and the abil­ity to keep on bloom­ing into win­ter make this a truly de­sir­able rose. My ‘Jean Ducher" was planted more than 25 years ago and is still hap­pily bloom­ing.

You will need to or­der these roses from a spe­cial­ist rose nurs­ery.

My English magazine ar­rived full of good ad­vice for the gar­dener in win­ter but that will keep.

Fly­ers seem to dec­o­rate the bow­els of ev­ery magazine and news­pa­per to­day but the Royal So­ci­ety for the Pro­tec­tion of Birds promised me a hand­some nest­box free if I joined, and I would help save rare nightin­gales and give puffins a home on land and at sea. The white owl, wings out­stretched on the cover of the Mem­ber’s Guide looked a bit scary but it was when I saw the photo of the hedge­hog that I ex­ploded. Don’t these peo­ple know that Mrs Tiggy-Win­kle eats birds!

There is noth­ing hedge­hogs like bet­ter than a meal of young birds in the nest. They will even swal­low full grown birds if they can get them. I saw a hedge­hog eat a bell­bird once. It took a while to get the bird down, from its head to its toes. There was noth­ing I could do. The bell­bird was dead and would pro­vide the hedge­hog with food for the win­ter.

Black spot on the leaves of ‘The Char­la­tan’.

Hedge­hogs love a meal of baby birds.


‘Jean Ducher’.

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