Old garden roses – Roses with a past

Old garden roses are very much in demand in today’s gardens. In summer, they abound with luxuriant, heady-scented flowers which provide a nostalgic reminder of the beauty of earlier days.

ANNUAL CALENDAR

SPRING

March-April:

Plant bare-root (clean of soil) roses.

Keep well watered before and after planting.

April:

Give established plants rose fertilizer.

SUMMER

June-August:

Established plants flower. Some types repeat-flower.

Check for pests and diseases and treat accordingly.

AUTUMN

September-November:

Prune after flowering has finished. Plant bare-root roses.

Give established plants a second dressing of fertilizer.

WINTER

December-February:

Roses are dormant.

Plant if the ground is not wet or frozen.

IMPORTANT

Many old roses are grown on rootstock (roots from a sturdier rose). It is essential that the bud-union (the knobbly part where the grafted rose branches start) is about 2.5cm below the soil surface after planting. This protects it from frost and helps prevent the mature plant being rocked by strong winds.

Planting and care

Autumn or early spring are the best times for planting bare-rooted roses. You can plant container- grown specimens at any time as long as it is neither too wet or dry.

Loosen the soil at the bottom of the planting hole and add a handful of bone meal. Mix the same amount into the soil removed from the hole before filling it in.

Cut away dead or damaged roots and do the same with the top growth. Trim back branches to about 10cm from the union. –

CORRECT FEEDING

Like most roses, old garden roses grow best if given balanced feeding.

A dressing of commercial rose fertilizer in spring and another of organic fertilizer in autumn are all that is needed.

Enough. Fertilizer sold for tomatoes is nearly always suitable for feeding roses as well.

This category of flowering shrubs has many names: old garden roses, heritage or old-fashioned roses. They share an informal growth habit and muted colours.

Any roses developed before 1867 are considered to be old garden roses. There are many groups of these roses, but broadly they fall into the category of climbing or non-climbing. Within each group there are named hybrids and naturally occurring forms. R. x alba ‘Maxima’ has been grown since Roman times, and the Gallica and Damask families are older still. Many old garden roses are once-flowering, but their beautiful show is worth the wait. Planting and care

Autumn or early spring are the best times for planting bare-rooted roses. You can plant container- grown specimens at any time as long as it is neither too wet or dry.

Loosen the soil at the bottom of the planting hole and add a handful of bone meal. Mix the same amount into the soil removed from the hole before filling it in.

Cut away dead or damaged roots and do the same with the top growth. Trim back branches to about 10cm from the union. -TIP,

CORRECT FEEDING

Like most roses, old garden roses grow best if given balanced feeding.

A dressing of commercial rose fertilizer in spring and another of organic fertilizer in autumn are enough. Fertilizer sold for tomatoes is nearly always suitable for feeding roses as well.

POPULAR VARIETIES

Once-flowering, Repeat-flowering

Alba (large, free branching), Hybrid Perpetual (vigorous) Damask (open shrub), Bourbon (can train to climb) Gallica (free branching), Tea (shrubs and climbers) Centifolia (lax, thorny), China (twiggy growth)

Portland (upright, dense), Noisette (climbing) -Old garden roses

SITUATION

A sunny spot, either alone or in a mixed bed. Old garden roses look particularly effective in an informal planting scheme.

SOIL

Well-drained, medium soil. Add compost or manure before planting. Add bone meal to planting hole.

CARE

Remove dead or damaged wood annually. Water well after planting until established. Give plants rose fertilizer in spring and late summer.

PLANT HEALTH

Old roses are prone to the same pests and diseases as modern roses: mainly aphids: and black spot, mildew and rust diseases. However, they tend to succumb to these problems less easily. Treat both mildew and aphid infestation early and use a fungicide and insecticide if necessary. Remove leaves damaged by black spot and rust. Prevention is better than cure, so keep the roses healthy by planting properly, avoiding over-crowding and feeding regularly.

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