Roses for enthusiasts – Roses with a difference

Whether old favourites or brand new hybrids, many roses have characteristics which are quite unexpected and make for a lot of interest in the garden.

They are all fairly easy to grow and can be very rewarding.

ANNUAL CALENDAR

SPRING

March:

Prune bushes, standards and climbers. Plant roses in heavy soils and cold, rainy areas. April-May: Mulch (cover ground) with organic material. Apply fertilizer. Mid-May: Spray against pests and diseases.

SUMMER

June:

Continue spraying against pests and diseases, if necessary. June-August: Deadhead cluster-flowered roses and Hybrid Teas. Water in very dry spells. August-September: Prune ramblers after flowering.

AUTUMN

Early September:

Spray against pests and diseases, if necessary. October-November: Best planting time.

WINTER

December-February:

Roses are dormant throughout winter. Planting is possible, so long as ground is not waterlogged or frozen.

Rose collectors have always prized any variety which is different, whether in shape, colour, scent or size. There is plenty of choice to inspire keen rose-growers.

Red, yellow and white are familiar rose colours but more exotic shades are available.

The green rose

Besides ‘Viridiflora’, there is a lovely miniature, ‘Green Diamond’, with greenish pompon flowers. The variety ‘Peppermint Ice’ has clear green flowers.

Black and blue

Black always excites the gardener’s imagination. Many very dark red roses claim to be the blackest. Grow them where the sun cannot burn the petals. ‘Deep Secret’, a Hybrid Tea, is a fine choice for its depth of crimson.

True blue does not exist in roses, despite some names, but there are a host of lavender-to-purple types.

‘Shocking Blue’ is a popu¬lar cluster-flowered rose.

Several ramblers are easy to grow and give clouds of lavender and purple blooms. ‘Amethyst’, ‘Violetta’ and ‘Veilchenblau’ are the best.

BUYING

If you want a thorn-less rose, try ‘Zephirine Drouhin’, one of the most popular climbers. It grows anywhere and produces masses of bright pink, heavily scented flowers in summer and autumn. Its relative, ‘Kathleen Harrop’, is very pale pink and equally thornless.

Striped flowers

There are old and modern striped varieties.

‘Stars and Stripes’ is red with white stripes. It is an easy-to-grow miniature.

‘Harry Wheatcroft’ is a Hybrid Tea with orange and yellow stripes.

Little and large

Roses vary hugely in size. A rose in California, R. banksiae alba-plena, is said to cover 2000sq m of trellis. In England a rambler ‘Kiftsgate’ is over 30m wide. R. longicuspis, one of many fast-growers, makes 6m of growth in a season.

Miniatures are good to grow in pots. Try:

‘Starina’ (25cm), vermilion.

‘Magic Carrousel’ (40cm), red and white.

‘Pour Toi’ (20cm), cream.

Roses for enthusiasts

SITUATION

Sunny, but not too bright for the deepest colours. Sheltered from cold winds. Good air circulation. All these roses should thrive in any part of the garden.

SOIL

Well-drained, rich in humus, ideally slightly acid. Avoid soil which has had roses growing in it for more than 10 years.

CARE

Mulch (cover ground) in spring, with well-rotted manure, compost or leaf-mould. Most roses need pruning. Apply fertilizer and spray against fungus and aphids as necessary.

PLANT HEALTH

All roses need a bit of help. Apply a balanced rose fertilizer in spring. Where roses are at risk from pests and diseases, spray at the first signs with a comprehensive fungicide and aphicide, usually available ready mixed.

BUYING

For particular rose types, goto good quality specialists. The Royal

National Rose Society,

St Albans, Herts AL2 3NR will be pleased to help.

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