Make the most of your roses

Roses have a timeless quality, which cheers up gardens great or small. Prima’s garden editor, Kim Wilde, shows you how to get the best from your blooms.

When deciding on a name for our second child, a little girl, both my husband, Hal, and I agreed – after toying with Poppy or Daisy – the only flower to name her after was Rose. There’s a timeless beauty about roses, which makes us return to them again and again.
There are thousands of varieties to choose from, with new ones added every year. All roses are decended from wild or species roses, which are hardy, often resistant to pests and diseases, and not as demanding in their soil requirements as some of the modern roses. The species Rosa glauca, chosen because of its tough constitution and stunning foliage and hips, was the first rose I planted in our garden. Their young purple stems and glaucous foliage contrast beautifully with the early summer alliums.
Most roses are hardy everywhere in Britain, and grow on almost any soil – provided it’s not waterlogged, pure sand, chalk or blue clay. The soil should be rich, with plenty of organic matter added during planting and again as 7,5cm-thick mulch in late spring, when the soil’s warmed up.

Rose problems
Strong roses – planted correctly, well tended and pruned – will resist or recover easily from disease. The main diseases are black spot, powdery mildew and rose rust, which are all airborn spores passed between roses. For black spot, remove and burn fallen leaves and cut off spotted stems. A multi-purpose rose spray should contriol both mildew and rust.

Climbing roses for archers, walls and fences
Climbers need to have their shoots trained and tied in to grow as near to horizontal as possible, which will encourage the production of flowering shoots. Rosa ‘Madame Grgoire Staechelin’ is highly scented with orange hips that follow stunning carmine pink flowers in late spring.
Grow with the climber Actinidia kolomikta, with its pink-tipped leaves.
R. ‘Leaping Salmon’ is full scented, with salmon pink blooms and glossy leaves, while R. ‘Dublin Bay’ has blood-red flowers on dark green, glossy foliage. Grown with climbing ivy, R. ‘Dublin Bay’ is stunning, and more than makes up for its scentless status.

Roses for hedging
R. ‘Jacqueline du Pr’ has fragrant semi-double pink flowers, and gives excellent repeat blooms. It makes an unusually beautiful hedge. Rugosa roses are also ideal for hedging, and will do well in most soils. They’re upright, spiny, with bright green foliage followed by orange hips.
R. ‘Fru Dagmar Hastrup’ has fragrant, light pink blooms with yellow stamens and large hips. In spring, its fresh apple green foliage is delightful.
R. ‘Roseraie de l’Hay’ has velvety, light purple-red flowers, on a shrub reaching 1.8m high.

Roses for mixed beds
R. ‘Rosemary Harkness’ has orange, salmon and yellow colours in a delicious blend, on large, fragrant blooms reaching 75cm in height.
The well-scented, pale orange pink blooms of R. ‘Warm Wishes’are born over a long period and accompanied by glossy leaves.
R. ‘Special Anniversary’ has been described as the most fragrant rose ever. This hybrid tea rose has rich pink flowers with glossy foliage.
R. ‘Heritage’has cupped soft pink blooms with a strong and unusual scent, and can be relied upon to flower regularly throughout the summer. Plant with Geranium sanguineum ‘Glenluce’, which has large pink flowers from late spring to late summer, for a soft and romantic planting combination.

Rose tips
Roses Of Special Merit are the most reliable new varieties, grouped according to where you plant them. Call the Royal National Rose Society on 01727 850461.
Never plant new roses where old ones have been.
Add organic matter and a sprinkling of bone meal when planting. Roses are very greedy.
Use a bark mulch to suppress weeds and show off blooms to effect.
Roses grow well in containers. Plant in John Innes No 3 compost with some slow release fertiliser.
Make the planting hole deep enough for the budding union (the swelling at the base of the stem) to be 2,5cm beklow the soil surface.
If pruning roses confuses you, simply cut back roses by half in early March to encourage growth and then remove dead and diseased wood.

Garden notebook

A fruitful time of year
Summer might be drawing to a close, but there’s still plenty to enjoy in the garden – especially apple picking. Now’s the perfect time to savour the fruits of your labour.
It’s important that you harvest your apples at the right time. Pick them too early and you won’t get the full benefit of their ripe flavour, but pick them too late, and they’ll go rotten while bing stored.
To check if an apple’s ready for harvesting, put the palm of your hand under the apple and gently twist it. If the apple’s ready, it’ll come away easily. Never pull an apple from a tree. When picking, carefully place (not drop) the apples in a bucket or basket lined with fabric to avoid bruising.
Store apples in a clean tray, or a plastic or wooden crate. If you can, use the dimpled liners used by grocers – just ask at your local shop if you can have some. Failing that, position them so they’re not touching, as rot can spread.

Prima solution

Q: I’ve got clay soil in my garden, which is difficult to work with. What’s the best way to improve its quality and make planting easier?
A: This is a good time to start improving clay soil, as it should be dry after summer. Roughly dig over the soil, making sure you dig in plenty of organic matter. Then add pea shingle to improve drainage. By leaving it in a roughly worked state over winter, the elements will do their bit in breaking the soil down even further, ready for planting by spring.

What’s in bloom
  • Agapanthus ‘Blue Giant’
    Tall perennial with deep-blue trumpet flowers. Perfect for pots.
  • Eryngium x tripartitum
    For something different, go for this prickly headed perennial with blue-green foliage.
  • Sedum spectabile ‘Brilliant’
    Butterflies love the profuse, fine pinky-red flowers of this perennial.
Things to do in September
  • Start planning what spring-flowering bulbs you want to plant;
  • Sow hardy annuals for early flowering next spring;
  • Clear up diseased material;
  • Make a new lawn with turf or seed;
  • Get ready to protect half-hardy plants if early frosts strike;
  • Deadhead roses and trim back tall sterns.