Planting roses in spring

Lovely parcel in the post  – three bare-root roses. The roses (ordered from David Austin, www.davidaustinroses.com) were tightly packed and ready for planting. Mild days in March meant I was raring to go and get them in the ground, but where to plant them in my small garden? Much depends on the individual habit of the roses. First out was

Lovely parcel in the post  – three bare-root roses. The roses (ordered from David Austin, www.davidaustinroses.com) were tightly packed and ready for planting. Mild days in March meant I was raring to go and get them in the ground, but where to plant them in my small garden? Much depends on the individual habit of the roses. First out was Rosa ‘Lady of Shalott’. This rose, new in 2009, has young buds that are orange to red, with contrasting upper and lower sides of petals, but even so a difficult combo to accommodate. I was willing to try this one for the appealing spicy clove and apple fragrance. I decided to plant it in a large container so that I could move it around depending on where its showy colours might look best in my setting.

Rosa ‘Lady of Shalott’ Copyright David Austin Roses

Next was Rosa ‘Kew Gardens’ described as a musk rose. It has open single white flowers, with butter-yellow stamens held in a lovely flower cluster and is completely thornless. After years of clashes with thorny roses,  and now gardening in a small garden, this is indeed a bonus. It was also a new in 2009 and celebrated Kew Gardens’ 250th anniversary. I chose a site in my sole flower border between Viburnum bodnantense and a spindly mock orange.

‘Kew Gardens’ Copyright David Austin Roses

The third rose, is one I particularly wanted – Rosa ‘The Generous Gardener’. It has large, almost cup- or goblet-shaped flowers in the palest of pink and repeat flowers. I am going to deadhead the first flowers, but leave the second flush to form rosehips, for an autumn show. It is a climbing rose, with a musk and spice fragrance and it is now in place next to my summer gazebo, where I will be able to enjoy its fragrance, as I sip cordials and lemonades…. in my dreams, I hear you say, as I am not known for sitting around…but then, which gardener is?

Rosa ‘The Generous Gardener' Copyright David Austen Roses

Good soil preparation is a given for most plants and roses are no exception. Before planting I soaked the roots in a bucket of water for several hours. Once roots were re-hydrated and the planting holes dug (to a depth of 18inches and 18 inches wide), I added compost, mixed with rose food and bone meal, and about a third of a sachet of mycorrhizal fungi to the bottom of the planting hole. The fungi have a symbiotic relationship with plants such as roses – they latch onto the roots, and make a secondary finer root system, that spreads over a wider area than the rose roots. They provide the rose with water and nutrients and in exchange take sugars from the host plant. You can buy mycorrhizal fungi in sachets of varying sizes and prices from garden centres or specialist growers.

Then the rose went into the hole, with its bud union just about 3 inches below ground level. Then I replaced the soil and watered the roses in well. They need about 2 gallons per plant. I will need to water them regularly as they establish, especially ‘Lady of Shalott’ growing in a container. I will also feed the roses again in summer. Always follow the instructions on the packet and avoid feeding too late in the season.

Rose catalogues give a good impression with colour images of what the rose looks like, but the real thing is always best, so in June get out and visit rose collections. Last year I visited the modern rose garden (http://www.theroyallandscape.co.uk/landscape/savillgarden/new-rose-garden.cfm) at Saville Gardens, Englefield Green, Surrey. Designed by Andrew Wilson of Wilson McWilliam Associates, it combines roses and grasses and has a viewing walkway that takes you right out into the middle of the roses.

The new rose garden in the Saville Gardens, Windsor Great Park, combines roses and grasses and has a viewing walkway that takes you right out into the middle of the roses. Photo: Copyright Barbara Segall

This year I plan to visit a new rose garden, the Bowes-Lyon Rose Garden, at RHS Garden Wisley (http://www.rhs.org.uk/Gardens/Wisley/About-Wisley), designed by Robert Myers. There are over 150 varieties of rose in the garden, so you will be able to see the full range of rose types available to modern gardeners, from true old roses, hybrid musks, English roses and floribunda, through to species roses. The planting plan was created by RHS Wisley staff with help from Michael Marriott of David Austin Roses.

Copyright Barbara Segall 2011