Growing Roses and Shrubs
For those who love roses and are faced with the same airless problem as I have in my town garden,roses on their own roots in tubs put into an open area of to avoid the still air syndrome should do well.
Low maintenance roses are not totally out of the question. Phylis Bide (rambler) and Rose virginiana (shrub) are two delightful roses which need little or no attention.
Phylis Bide flowers throughout the summer. The slightly ragged flowers are small in a wonderful colour mixture ranging from gentle orange and pink to cream.
Rose virginiana is good in most soils, even light, and flowers in summer. It has pretty, deep pink flowers, rich green leaves, nice autumn foliage and fat orange hips in the autumn.
If you don’t want a rose shrub or rambler to get too big, just cut hard back in the autumn. But even if they are left for years they will not be a problem.
Two ground cover roses that really live up to the name are Grouse and Partridge. Both are sprawling shrubs with glossy mid-green leaves. Grouse has lovely pale pink flowers and Partridge clusters of white flowers.
Mermaid, a semi-climber, is another splendid rose and requires very little attention. In fact it benefits from being pruned sparingly. I have two Mermaids that have not been touched for years, except to cut off the dead heads (and then only occasionally) and they still look terrific. I have never seen them without their lovely shiny dark green leaves, even in the depths of winter, nor have I ever seen them attacked by any of the usual rose pests. Both my Mermaids are planted on a north wall, flower throughout the summer and do not complain about the shade. Roses that like shade are worth their weight in gold, added to which the Mermaid’s flower is lovely, a single pale yellow-gold.
New Dawn is a lovely rambling rose which flowers all summer with blush pink. It is very popular, but similar to and not to be confused with Dr Van Fleet which only flowers once a year. Make sure you have New Dawn if you want continuous flowering.
Felicia is another lovely pink rose. This hybrid musk is a real charmer, so if you have the space (it grows to 4 ft (1.2 m) by 4 ft (1.2 m)) and don’t mind using the secateurs and doing a bit of judicious pruning once a year, it is not to be missed. It has certainly been a big plus in my garden. Its sprays of scented deep to pale pink flowers last from summer to autumn, it is an excellent shrub, and the cut flowers look good in a vase too.
If you want a splash of splendid neon pink colour, terrific light coppery green healthy foliage, Bonica is a good bet. It was grown by Midland in 1984. This relatively modern disease-resistant shrub has abundant flowers and adds pep to any border.
Felicite et Perpetue is another lovely old (1827) white rambler that needs little or no pruning. It grows happily up a north wall (to 15 ft/4.5 m). It has abundant clusters of small white flowers, the buds being pink/red before they open. It is long and late flowering and absolutely beautiful. This climber, like the majority of roses mentioned here, requires virtually no work and is wonderful value.
Should your newly planted climbing roses not produce many flowers (or no flowers at all) in the first few years, do not despair. While a rose is getting established, it does not flower abundantly, but as long as it is well planted and fed, it should take off after a few years. Ramblers seldom produce continuous flowers, but most climbers will give you a splendid display of flowers throughout the summer.
Roses in Tubs: Disease and Soil
The new patio roses on their own roots are ideal for growing in tubs because roses need fresh soil and the great advantage of a tub is that you can start off with virgin potting compost.
Nematodes tend to thrive in the soil in which a rose has grown, and these will affect any new rose planted in the same soil. So a tub with fresh compost could not be a better place for planting a rose. But make sure you have good(about 3 in/ 7.5 cm of small stones), then add John Innes Potting Compost No 3. If you water, and give bone meal, the roses should live happily in a tub for a couple of decades.
It is best to ask for roses ‘on their own roots’ for tubs rather than budded ones which have fang-like roots and prefer to be in soil. ‘Own root roses’ have much more fibrous roots and grow much better than budded roses. You can tell a budded rose as it has a ‘swelling’ before the roots and all the shoots tend to come from one place on it. ‘Own root roses’ have a root system more like a normal shrub and you don’t get any troublesome suckers. Ground cover roses and patio roses are often available on ‘own root’, especially if you order direct from rose growers.
How to Plant a Rose
Many people say roses are labour-intensive, but even if they do need a prune and feed once a year, the rewards far outweigh the little attention they demand.
A rose once planted will continue to flower without complaining for fifteen years or more while lavender which is thought of as a relatively plant needs cutting back once a year and will need replacing after six or eight years. The planting of a rose is less work than that of a tree mainly because the hole only needs to be a little bigger than the width and depth of the rose’s roots, roughly 2 ft (60 cm) wide and 10 in (25 cm) deep.
But whether the rose is bare-rooted (and to be planted in the autumn or early spring); or in a container ready for year-round planting, the method of planting is much the same. There are important rules which should be followed, as there are for trees. The same rules also apply to shrubs.
Important Rules for Bare Rooted Roses
Do not expose the roots of bare-rooted roses to wind, sun or air for more than two or three minutes. If you have to leave the rose for a time once you have started planting, protect the roots by covering them with damp sacking or soil.
Like trees, bare-rooted roses die if their roots are exposed to the elements for as little as five minutes, or if the roots are dry. Dip the roots into a bucket of lukewarm water for a few minutes before planting. But do not soak rose roots in a bucket of water overnight, as plants cannot breathe if left more than five or ten minutes in water. Roots need oxygen. Just plunge the rose into water for five minutes before planting.
Do not plant or water roses if the weather is icy or there is night frost.
Prepare the tools and things you are going to need before starting to plant. You will need a spade (for ladies light weight makes it much easier), black plastic dust bin sheet (to mix the soil from the hole with), watering can, bucket of tepid water, gloves (if you don’t like working with bare hands although bare hands are easier for mixing the soil, peat and bone meal), 1 large bucket full of moist peat, bone meal, organic (calcified seaweed is optional), damp sacking to cover bare root, secateurs and knife or scissors to cut the over-long roots.
Dig a hole slightly larger than the rose’s roots (the average hole needs to be 2 ft (60 cm) wide and 8-10 in (20-25 cm) deep) and put the soil on to a polythene sheet. Mix this soil with moist peat or compost, add a trowelful of bone meal and one of calcified seaweed (optional), and mix together.
Place the bare-rooted rose in the hole, making sure that the roots are ‘comfortable’ with room to lie in their natural shape. Never cramp roots into an ‘uncomfortable’ position. If the bare roots are excessively long, it is wise to snip them back to about 1 ft (30 cm). Place rose in hole and then start filling the hole with trowelfuls of the soil mixture, occasionally lifting the rose slightly and shaking it gently, so the soil falls between the roots. Some say you should not cover the bud union at the base of the rose’s stem with soil unless you want the rose to root out. This should remain exposed and be 2 in (5 cm) above the level of the soil. (But several exceptional rose growers have said that they cover the union and this helps to strengthen the rose and protect the plant in a hard winter.) When all the soil is in the hole, firm round the outside of the rose hole with your heel so that the roots have a nice, firm surround, but do not stamp down the soil or use a flat foot. Then water and spread a layer of moist compost or peat over the roots.
First of all, water container thoroughly before planting. Dig hole about 6 in (15 cm) wider and deeper than the container. Break up the soil at the base of the hole, then fill in about 6 in (15 cm) of soil and compost mix which you have prepared with the soil from the hole: one third peat, one third compost, one third soil, plus a trowelful of bonemeal and one of calcified seaweed (optional) and some organic fertiliser.
Next carefully place the rose in its container into the hole. Remove the container very carefully by cutting down the side of the plastic cover. Try not to disturb the soil and rose’s roots when taking away the cover. Next fill round the rose with your peat/compost and soil, bone meal and calcified seaweed mixture. Then firm with your heel (not flat foot), water and cover round the root with moist compost or peat.
If you are planting a container rose when it is not in leaf it is best to remove all the compost in the container and plant as if it were a bare-rooted rose.
One of the most important things to remember when planting shrubs is to water the shrub in its pot or container before planting. Watering afterwards is not good enough, because if the soil in the container is dry and you water afterwards, all that happens is the water runs down between the dry soil surrounding the plant and the new soil, still leaving the plant in the middle longing for a drink! Plant as for roses in containers.