Rose Garden Preparation and Accompanying Plants

Selecting the Right Rose

A healthy rose should last fifteen to twenty years or more, given reasonable conditions, so it is well worthwhile making sure you buy good quality roses to start with. Look for at least three strong shoots and good root development, and check that the rose is not too dry. This is particularly important if you buy roses that are pre-packed in polythene: the sort that may have been kept too long in the overheated atmosphere of a store.


Preparation and Planting

rose garden preparation - planting roses Although roses demand very little attention, a little pre-arrival preparation will ensure good results. Because, to some extent, they are coarse feeders, a good helping of well rotted manure or compost in the bottom of the planting hole is the first requirement, but be careful that raw manure is not allowed to come into direct contact with the roots. Make sure, too, that the soil is well watered beforehand, and also that the plants themselves have been stood in water, preferably for twenty-four hours. If you plant the roots dry you suffer considerable delay before seeing your first blooms.

The soil mark on the bushes will be a good guide to planting depth, and see that the hole is wide enough for the roots to spread out in comfort. Bear in mind that each one has to go foraging through the soil for the food that will produce healthy blooms. The only way in which you must restrict them is by firming the soil thoroughly, partly to avoid air pockets and maintain close contact between root fibre and soil particles, but equally to prevent the plant blowing about in the wind, with consequent risk of damage or even uprooting. If you are planting standards, which need support, drive the stake into the soil first, making sure that it is firmly in position. A looped ‘belt’, figure-eight style, is the best way to secure the tree to the stake. The tie must not chafe the bark, while leaving enough room for expansion but not enough for movement. October to March is the best time for planting, but make sure the soil is not too wet for planting firmly.


General Care

Roses demand little attention to keep them in good condition. They need pruning in spring, before growth starts, and dead-heading when the blooms are finished. They need feeding —normally with a good mulch of farm manure if possible, otherwise compost and a fairly regular liquid diet — and the occasional spray to take care of such annoyances as aphids and other pests, and diseases such as black spot and mildew. Also, both the appearance and condition of the rose bed will be improved if it is kept well weeded and the fallen leaves are removed, in case they harbour any spores of the various troubles that could overwinter in the soil and start up again early next year.


Accompanying Plants

The one drawback about a rose bed is that it does look rather bare during those months when you are waiting for the buds to form and make you feel that summer really is on the way. For apart from the satisfaction of looking at neatly pruned trees (taken down to within a few centimetres of the ground in March, with the cut, if possible, about 1cm above an outward facing bud), there is nothing particularly inspiring about a rose bed with just a few twigs showing. Understandably many gardeners wish to have some other plant there to relieve the bareness of those early months of spring.

My own opinion is that it is a pity to detract from the glory of a bed of roses in full flower. From the practical aspect, roses do at all times need some attention, whether dead-heading, weeding, spraying, or just inspecting to make sure you can catch troubles at the outset. This obviously means that if you have to tread on the bed it is most inadvisable to have some other plant getting under your feet; ground-cover plants will make access difficult. Above all, since weeds do their utmost to invade and ruin the appearance of every well tended flower bed, the only treatment, short of constant hoeing, is weedkiller. Simazine is widely used, as is a paraquat / diquat formulation, which is harmless to the woody part of a shrub but plays havoc with anything green on which it is splashed.

If you wish to have your rose bed showing colour -for as much of the year as possible, and dislike the use of weedkiller, your best approach is to have some springtime display that imparts its glory before the roses come on the scene and then meekly passes off stage. For early-year colour you won’t go far wrong with snowdrops and crocuses, and the traditional lobelia and alyssum will provide a cheerful edging. There is a new red alyssum, called ‘Wonderland’, but it is so dark that it definitely needs a partner as a contrast. The golden-yellow A. saxatile is probably the favourite in the range.

One very useful stand-in is a display of wallflowers. Planted in autumn, they will provide their own distinctive colour and scent for many weeks from early spring till midsummer, taking you well into rose-blooming time. Or you can have a fine display of tulips: the short-stemmed Kaufmannianas (white and carmine) are in flower from March onwards. The trouble with bulbs is that you have to wait such a long time for the leaves to die down, for it is fatal to cut them. It is, therefore, an advantage to use the early-flowering ones if you must have them co-habiting with the roses.

accompanying plants for a rose garden - Narcissus minimus (asturiensis) You will certainly get early perfume with the jonquils, which grow about 30cm (1ft) tall and flower in April, and undoubtedly you will be enchanted by the delightful little Narcissus minimus (asturiensis), one of the smallest — it grows only 7cm (3in) high — and flowering in February. A little taller is the well known yellow hoop petticoat narcissus, which normally blooms in March.

If you insist on having other flowering plants in the rose bed during summer, almost anything will satisfy your tastes. A lot depends on the situation of the bed. If you have it close to a fence, so that it is more of a border, then you would be justified in having, say, some tall-growing hollyhocks or delphiniums at the back. And nobody would be likely to argue about sending roses and clematis climbing together up an old tree, or even a wall.

Different flowers can be used as a background for your roses. As if to compensate for the scarcity of a really attractive blue rose variety, there are some blue plants that make almost perfect companions. Lavender is an automatic choice; so is catmint, and some of the campanulas (notably C. lactiflora) are particularly good. Geraniums (pelargoniums, if you prefer) provide their own earthy tang and generally grow low enough not to get in the way — but be careful to avoid a colour clash with your roses. Pinks and carnations, with their unusual leaf shape and colour and individual perfume, can also make a useful contribution to the beauty of the scene. Silver foliage plants such as senecio (or cineraria) and Stachys lanata will likewise provide a pleasing colour combination.

Some excellent effects can be achieved using mainly herbaceous plants interspersed with roses, but in these cases the roses are merely providing the accompaniment, as it were, not being the chief performers.

The point is that the roses and their companions should complement each other. This will guarantee the harmony that hallmarks the garden of a true lover of plants and flowers.

See also: Planning a Rose Garden

30. April 2011 by admin
Categories: Plants, Roses | Tags: , , | Comments Off on Rose Garden Preparation and Accompanying Plants


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