Growing roses

One of my earliest memories as a child was spending many a hot summer’s day in our large family garden in Hertfordshire. Part of this experience I can remember, was that our garden was filled with wonderful colours and marvellous scents.

I now realise this was partly due to us having a number of roses growing in our garden, which at the time were one of the most popular plants grown in British gardens.

Although roses at the moment are not being grown so readily as they traditionally once were, they are still extremely popular and versatile, especially with the introduction of newer, modern varieties. You can now buy a rose, suitable for nearly every aspect of your garden, such as beds, borders, walls, fences, tubs and containers.

The beauty and fragrance of roses can be enjoyed in your garden all through the summer and they are available in a huge array of flower colours. I personally love the heavily scented, soft pink, traditional cottage garden ‘Shrub’ roses, which I plant amongst other plants in my mixed borders.

Now is a good time for purchasing roses, as there will be plenty of varieties readily available. When choosing roses you should consider that they fall into a number of groups suitable for different purposes.

If you are looking for roses for beds and borders, you should choose varieties from either the ‘Hybrid Tea’ group or the ‘Floribunda’ group.

Ideally, you should plant in groups of the same variety, as this will give a much more stunning display. Popular varieties include Ena Harkness (crimson), Grandpa Dickson (yellow), Ruby Wedding (ruby red), Iceberg (white) and Queen Elizabeth (pink).

For walls and fences choose either ‘Ramblers’ or ‘Climbers’ which are vigorous growing varieties, suitable for this purpose. Good fragrant varieties are Albertine (pink), Golden Showers (yellow) and Zephirine Drouhin (pink).

‘Shrub’ roses are ideal for a mixed border as they provide height, colour and scent. Popular varieties include Graham Thomas (yellow) and Gertrude Jekyll (pink).

For tubs and containers choose from the ‘Patio’ or ‘Miniature’ groups as these will give you suitable colourful low growing plants, ideal for bold splashes of colour on your patio. Popular varieties include Sweet Dream (apricot), Top Marks (red), Baby Masquerade (yellow and pinks) & New Penny (pink).

Roses thrive in an open sunny position, away from direct winds and in a free draining, moisture retentive soil. Prepare your planting position by firstly removing any perennial weeds and by adding plenty of organic matter, such as J. Arthur Bower’s Farm Manure to the soil. Dig a planting hole about 60cm wide and 30cm deep, placing the excavated soil to one side, thoroughly loosen the base of the planting hole with a fork, which will allow the roots of your rose to spread freely. Carefully remove the rose from its container and place into the centre of the planting hole, ensuring it is planted to the same soil level as in the pot.
Backfill the hole with the excavated soil, which has had organic matter incorporated and firm with the heel of your shoe.

Sprinkle a little rose fertiliser such as ‘Toprose’ around the soil surface, as this will feed your new plant and help promote healthy growth during the next few months. Water thoroughly by soaking the soil around the plant and continue to water regularly until established.

After planting, apply a layer of the organic matter to the soil surface to act as a mulch, helping to keep your plants moist and the soil surface weed free.