Wednesday 17 January 2018

Sweet smell of success

Roses will reward a little bit of effort, says Marie Staunton

This year, in particular, the rose is out-performing most other flowering plants
This year, in particular, the rose is out-performing most other flowering plants

Marie Staunton

Every flowering plant has its moment and this year, in particular, the rose is out-performing most others. They aren't particularly fond of rain, preferring to do all their showing off in full sunshine.

Roses are always going to be on the list of plants when creating a garden and aren't as hard to grow as you would imagine. They respond very well to a bit of love and care – it really isn't a chore if you pace yourself and know exactly when they need attention.

Shrub roses will need to be pruned back to knee height in early spring (to about 30cm from the ground). Sprinkle a bit of rose fertiliser around the base of each flower and water it in.

If you have access to farmyard manure then this is ideal, but make sure you keep it a little distance away from the stems. Fresh manure is no good for roses, so make sure that it is well rotted; it shouldn't have a strong pungent smell.

That covers the spring routine. Coming into summer, greenfly and black spot are the main concern because you have already pruned and fed them. My friend Joe made up a garlic wash – we tried it on the tomatoes and roses and it worked a treat. We used a litre of water to three minced garlic cloves and a couple of squirts of washing-up liquid. Strain it, put the liquid into a sprayer and spray it on to the leaves and buds to help with the greenfly.

Dead-heading most flowering plants will allow more energy to be focused on the next bud coming into flower, and roses are no different. Dead-head often to prolong the season. If you are after a repeat flowering shrub then go for the likes of Rosa 'Blanche Double de Coubert'. This has beautiful semi-double white flowers with glossy foliage.

Shrub roses can get to a good height, and this particular one will get to nearly 2m so be aware of that when you are searching for the perfect rose. I have a Climbing Iceberg rose in a border and this year it has a fantastic display of creamy white flowers, so this summer is really suiting it.

Standard or half standard roses are tricky to look after; they require hard pruning in spring and can look awful at that stage until they come into leaf, but the rewards are fantastic. It's a bit like having a bouquet of flowers in your garden come summer.

Gardeners all over the country try their best to create wonderful displays of flowers in their gardens, and if you are travelling out of Dublin, on your way to the south of the country, and stopping in Rathcoole for a cuppa, then just on the other side of the village – heading towards Beech Park Golf Club – is a beautiful half standard rose in glorious full flower.

If it's yours and you are reading this, it's a credit to you.

Irish Independent

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