Gallica rose Rosa gallica

Ancient favourite

Gallicas were the most popular roses of the Middle Ages, cultivated in some of the earliest English gardens for their alleged medicinal properties. Today, the beauty of their flowers still makes them well worth growing.

ANNUAL CALENDAR

SPRING

March-May:

Give established plants a top-dressing of rose fertilizer or compost. Prune by cutting out any dead wood. On shorter shrubs, thin out tangled, twiggy growth.

SUMMER

June-early July:

Main flowering period. Remove faded blooms or cut when fully out for indoor arrangements. Check for signs of mildew and spray if necessary. Late July: Shorten sideshoots on larger plants after flowering.

AUTUMN

September-November:

Best time for planting new specimens. Dig compost into the site beforehand. Do not plant in wet or frosty weather.

WINTER

December-February:

Gallicas are hardy and need no special frost protection. Check that newly planted roses have not been rocked by winter winds and firm in again if necessary. 1, PRUNING, 1

Allow Gallicas to grow, July. The roses do not need naturally but cut back, any further pruning in the sideshoots on taller vari-, spring apart from cutting eties immediately after they, out any dead wood and have finished blooming in, thinning tangled branches.

AS CUT FLOWERS

As well as adorning the garden, many varieties of Gallica make wonderful cut flowers, and the profusion of blooms means you can fill a vase without depleting the outdoor display too noticeably. Cut the roses when they are fully out in June or July. They will last particularly well if placed in a bucket of deep, cold water for a few hours before arranging.

Add a special cut-flower preservative for an even longer life. Varieties such as ‘Charles de Mills’ make dashing single ‘buttonholes’ for special occasions.

The Gallica rose is also known as the double French rose. A variety called ‘Apothecary’s rose’ was famed for healing qualities. The stems are almost thomless.

These roses are some of the earliest to have been grown in gardens, and are still some of the easiest to grow.

Gallica roses are very tough and form small to medium shrubs which burst into a fountain of blooms in early summer. They flower only once a season, compared with the repeat flowering typical of modern roses. They are suitable for borders and as hedging, and their lovely blossoms last well and have an appealingly fullblown appearance.

This group of roses is available in the lightest pink to deep purple, and many shades in between. The older the plant becomes, the more flowers it produces each year.

POPULAR VARIETIES

Variety ‘Charles de Mills’ (’Bizarre Triomphant’) ‘Cardinal de Richelieu’ ‘Belle de Crecy’ ‘Camaieux’ ‘Complicata’

Description purple-ruby double flowers last on the plant for many days fragrant purple flowers grow in clusters of 2 or 3 blooms mixture of light and deeper pink flowers; almost thornless pale pink blooms striped with crimson single pink flowers with a paler centre and bright yellow stamens; strong, fast-growing shrub ‘Versicolor’ (’Rosa Mundi’) pale pink flowers subtly striped maroon; masses of blooms ‘James Mason’

R. gallica var. officinalis (Apothecary’s rose) scarlet flowers with bright yellow stamens in centre pale red flowers followed by small round hips if blooms not removed; ancient species still available

SITUATION, SOIL, CARE

Gallicas grow well in, Gallicasdo well in most, Gallicasdo not need full sun or partial, soil, including poor, as, any protection from shade. Plant in groups, long as it is enriched, frost. Give fertilizer or or larger ones alone as, with compost when, compost every year in specimen plants. In a, preparing the planting, spring. Deadhead border, mix Gallicas, site. Add bone meal to, (remove faded flower- with other flowering, the planting mixture heads) if they become plants that give colour, sodden and unsightly.

PLANT HEALTH

All Gallica roses are prone to mildew, but only after they have finished their summer flush of flowers. Spray with a fungicide designed to combat mildew if white powdery mould appears on the leaves.

BUYING

Buy Gallica roses from a reliable supplier with a show garden where the varieties can be seen in season. They are worth tracking down.

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