Who can resist a beautiful rose? Their sheer beauty is reason enough to plant more of them. But roses are functional too with something for every purpose. It’s time to plant them now.
When it comes to cut flowers roses never fail to please, and picking a bunch of flowers for a friend is all the more meaningful when they’re from your own garden. The formal ‘hybrid tea’ roses are the classic picking roses loved for their long strong stems, large ‘pointed’ blooms and lengthy vase life. Any rose is worthy of displaying in a vase, however. Old fashioned and floribunda cluster roses are great for mixing with other flowers for a delightful informal bunch. Recommended: Blackberry Nip, Fragrant Cloud, Gold Medal, Ingrid Bergman, Enigma, Iceberg.
Old fashioned roses offer some of the most potent perfumes, and it is from these that breeders have developed our most fragrant modern roses. If fragrance is a priority the ‘English Roses’ bred by David Austin are well worth adding to your wish list. Recommended: Abraham Darby, Gertrude Jekyll, Mary Rose, Margaret Merril, Blackberry Nip, Aotearoa, Double Delight, My Dad.
Few shrubs flower for as long as a rose. Many flower almost continuously all summer long. Others repeat throughout the season or give a huge flush in spring followed by more flowers over late summer and autumn. For a high impact show of continuous colour, with loads of blooms covering the bush, look to ‘floribunda’ (cluster flowered) roses. These low
and medium height rose bushes come in almost any colour. Also consider compact patio roses for mass colour impact in small spaces or pots. Shrub roses like Flower Carpet, which make up for their smaller flower size with sheer mass of bloom. Recommended: My Dad, My Mum, My Best Mate, Berry Nice, Enigma, Iceberg, Flower Carpet.
Creating an environment where bees can thrive is something gardeners are increasingly aware of when choosing plants for our gardens. Roses are a prime source of food for bees and other beneficial insects. Planted near the vege garden they will help attract important pollinators for summer vegetables like zucchinis and cucumbers. Bees especially love single and semi double flower forms with exposed stamens for easy access to pollen. Recommended: Ballerina, Bantry Bay, Sally Holmes.
There is no more romantic embellishment for a fence, wall or pergola than a climbing rose. The old ramblers are useful when a really big space needs covering. For smaller walls the modern climbing roses are best. Climbing roses combine beautifully with summer flowering clematis. Recommended: Dublin Bay, Rosa Banksia, Bantry Bay, Graham Thomas.
Although roses are deciduous, they are only without leaves for a short time. From spring through summer and autumn a good groundcover rose will smother the ground with colour, blocking and disguising weeds. Groundcover roses combine beautifully with other groundcovers. Try them with dwarf flaxes and lomandras, or blend them with low spreading groundcover coprosmas.
FOR A SENSE OF HISTORY
Roses are as old as gardening and there is something wonderful about cultivating a plant that might have grown in your great-great- grandparent’s garden. Researching the origins and history of a rose, whether it’s centuries or just decades old makes very interesting reading.
Planting a rose is a lovely way to celebrate a life passed, a special birthday, anniversary or a wedding. Many a rose has been especially named in honour of a special event or to honour a special person.
FOR AN EASY CARE GARDEN
Growing roses isn’t always a doddle, but they can take a lot less care than is commonly thought. Unlike many garden flowers, they don’t need planting every year. A layer of mulch will keep summer watering needs to a minimum and block the weeds. Flower Carpet roses need only one big cut back per year and it’s a no fuss job with the hedge trimmers. The other great thing about many modern roses is that so many of them are disease resistant and stay looking good without the need for spraying.
Keeping roses healthy
In summer, pests and diseases get busy, but their effect on our roses is minimised when we take action in winter. After pruning, clear away all leaf debris and surrounding weeds then spray with copper mixed with mineral oil. The oil takes care of insect eggs while the copper kills disease spores.
Pests and diseases survive winter by hibernating in bark crevices, and fallen leaves so they’re all set to start breeding as soon as their favourite host plant starts growing in spring. We can significantly reduce this overwintering ‘inoculum’ if we remove it from the garden entirely and keep pruning tools clean.
Well-fed and watered roses are much more resilient to pests and diseases than malnourished ones. Feed in spring. Avoid frequent shallow watering and water the ground, not on the plants. Deep infrequent watering encourages roots to grow deeply into the soil where there is a good supply of moisture and nutrients. Keep building soil humus with lots of organic matter in the form of compost, organic fertilisers and mulch.
Roses generally grow best in soil that hasn’t previously had roses. Ideally, if you plant a new rose in the same spot another one grew, replace the soil with soil from a different part of the garden.
Look for disease resistant rose varieties and plant them where they have sun and some air movement around them. Pests and diseases love humid conditions created by overcrowded planting or weeds. They also thrive in sheltered spots close to buildings.
Remember that every pest has it’s predators. Look after the good bugs by choosing sprays carefully and using them sparingly. Plant herbs and flowers that attract predatory insects. Strongly scented herbs like garlic and chives can help throw pests off their target.
Be aware and act early to keep on top of pest populations early in the season before they get out of control.
Today’s more environment-friendly, natural-based plant protection products offer effective control against pests and diseases when help is needed. They’re part of a holistic commonsense approach called ‘Integrated Pest Management’.