Roses are remarkably adaptable plants. They can be used to excellent effect in a variety of different ways. There are many different varieties available and I would always find space in the garden for at least one rose.

Many of the old fashioned roses only flower once a year, whereas most modern roses have several flushes throughout the summer. These include English roses, patio roses and groundcover roses. Some of the modern climbers and ramblers also produce a second flush later in the season.

Some of the larger bush roses make excellent small climbers trained against a wall, over an arch or pergola. This is ideal for the smaller garden and means you can do your maintenance more easily and without the use of ladders. And with the flowers being closer to the ground you will be able to smell the flowers better!

A Shropshire Lad is a modern English rose that will form a superb climber of eight feet or more. It has lovely peachy pink flowers with a deliciously fruity fragrance. Another advantage of this rose is that it has very few thorns, unlike the traditional climber and rambler roses.

Now is a good time to search for roses for your garden and field grown roses will be available bare root from October through to April. Planting bare root roses during the dormant season allows the plants to establish quickly because this is when the soil is moist. It causes little or no disturbance to the plant. Also, there is a far wider choice of bare root roses and they should be more economical than pot grown roses if you need to buy a few of them
Roses are prone to mildew, blackspot and rust and these often occur when the plants are under stress. It is worth considering growing roses with a good disease resistance and some roses have thicker leaves and are naturally disease resistant.

Deadhead roses at least once a week to produce more flowers, cutting back to strong growth and remove any weak spindly stems. Try to always cut just above a healthy looking rich-green leaf. That is where the hormones concentrate and the plant will be able to produce a new flowering shoot faster.

Mulching should be done in March just after you've done your winter pruning. The best mulch for roses is well rotted horse manure but your home made garden compost is fine. It is good to feed them with a proper rose fertiliser as this contains more potash, plus magnesium. Do this at the start of the growing season and again just after the first flush of flowers has finished.

Watering them once a week during a hot dry spell will keep them flowering well and will help prevent disease. If your roses have been suffering from fungal disease problems this summer it is a good idea to rake up the fallen leaves and dispose of them to reduce the risk of reinfection.

(1st Published in the September 2009 edition of the Bishop Burton newsletter)

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