We’ve lived here for a year now, and I can see why people suggest not making major changes to a garden before you really get acquainted with it. It’s useful to see how much light it gets in summer when the trees are in full leaf, where the cold, windy spots are in winter, and it’s been interesting, though a bit depressing, to see just how much standing water there is in some places.
Last February I was distracted with settling in and the roses only got a swift prune, but now they’re in for a proper going over. I’ve got a few of the modern shrub roses, a type that are a cross between modern bush roses and old-fashioned roses so that they inherit the best qualities from each parent.
Arm yourself with a stout pair of gardening gloves and use secateurs that are really sharp and give a nice, clean cut.
- cutting just above a leaf, I’ll do is cut out dead, diseased and dying wood, it’s dark brown in colour, if you’re not sure, gently scrape the stem and if the wood underneath is brown you’ll know it’s dead
- next, cut out thin, spindly stems
- then cut all branch by about a third
you can almost here the plant give a sigh of relief as all the tat is removed and it can put it’s energy into good, healthy growth.
After pruning give them a feed of general fertiliser and a mulch of well-rotted manure, leaf-mould or garden compost around the base of the stem, taking care not to cover the stem or it’s likely to rot.
If like me, you garden organically it helps to
- grow roses with other plants to reduce the likelihood of fungal diseases like blackspot taking hold,
- grow them where they get plenty of sun, on good, rich loam,
- planting an under-story of plants reduces the chances of spores that lurk on the soil splashing up onto the plants, penstemons, geraniums, cosmos, calendula and nigella will all fit the bill well.
- don’t put the pruning onto the compost heap,
- attract beneficial insects into the garden by growing a range of different types of plants.
Some roses are more resistant to disease than others, do you have favourite roses that do well?
David Austin is a wonderful place to buy good roses and if you can get to Surrey, the Rose Marquee at the Hampton Court Flower Show has a wonderful display of roses and lots of growers and experts, find out more here. Have a look at last years Rose Marquee here.
Happy gardening, Jill
all photos: Jill Anderson