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Rose peach
Roses are introduced to us in childhood with their appearance in children’s stories from ‘Beauty and the Beast' and ‘Sleeping Beauty’, and our appreciation of them can last a lifetime.
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Roses are also the subject of many songs and poems we hear throughout our lives. Roses, particularly red ones, are the go-to flower to signify love on Valentine’s Day.

The look and smell of the rose has also commonly been used throughout time to represent elegance and refinement, an idea that is further asserted by the rose being one of the more common flowers used in perfume making. These perfumes can be on the more expensive side as it reportedly requires 60,000 rose flowers to produce just one ounce of rose oil.

Because of this, roses can seem like plants that need exacting maintenance, conducted by the most highly skilled gardeners. This can leave some apprehensive about working with them, in fear of doing something horticulturally incorrect. We hope the advice below proves this is simply not the case.

  • Roses have a unique connection to us that is present both outside of the garden setting as well as within it. We hope this article makes working with them less daunting.
  • It is important to remember the sense of gratification these tasks can afford us, at whatever level of complexity we feel comfortable working at, and to avoid becoming bogged down in overly complicated theories on how to care for a rose. Instead, we can achieve reward and meaning from the physical and mental benefits that our interactions with them provide.
  • These fragrant and elegant flowers, will it seems, be popular for many more years to come.
Rose red and white

Rose are taxonomically categorised as being from the Rosacea family which also includes a wide range of other plants, including apples and blackberries. Below are five of the most common type of roses you may wish to add to your garden:

  • Old English rose: Favoured by many gardeners for their large strong-smelling flowers made up of numerous petals. They also have the advantage of being hardy and disease resistant. Old English roses can grow up to 150 cm in height and are shrub-like in their appearance.
  • Hybrid tea rose: Probably the most popular rose within the floral industry and used a lot as cut flowers. Effective when planted alongside each other in a bed. Deadheading will produce further blooms through the summer but sadly the Hybrid tea rose is less resistant to disease. They grow to between 80-150cm tall.
  • Climbing rose: Usually planted against a wall or trained over a pergola. Using canes to train them, climbing roses can be effective in providing interest in upright spaces. A climbing rose should flower more than once over the growing season and the flowers will resemble the hybrid tea rose in appearance.
  • Rambling rose: Whilst very similar to the climbing rose the rambling rose is naturally more vigorous in its growing habit. Because of this, as well as being able to grow on walls, it can also be effective growing up tree trunks in the garden. Though training is required, a rambling rose is happy to establish itself where space allows. The flowers are smaller and grow in clusters and usually only flower once within the season.
  • Rosa rugosa: We mention this rose as we have standard roses and climbing roses, but this rose can be used effectively for hedging. It produces many fragrant small flowers that develop later into striking yellowy-orange rose hips that stand out against its dense green foliage. It grows to around 150cm tall.
Old english rose
Old English rose

Whilst this can seem like one of the more daunting aspects of rose care, here are some tips to make rose pruning a more appealing task. It may be worth knowing that in a study of rose pruning, where one rose was pruned to exacting horticultural guidelines and another was pruned using a hedge trimmer, both plants produced a similar number of flowers.

Pruning should be done just as the plant is restarting growth from the winter, this will ideally be in February. Deadheading can be done throughout the flowering season, once the flower has died back.

If rose hips are not your cup of tea, then deadhead to promote more flowers in the future. Deadheading is a good way to build confidence when first attempting pruning. Perhaps start on a Cosmos and work your way up?

Pruning rose

The three D’s: Dead, Damaged and Diseased growth. Now you have gained confidence, look your rose over for brown and lifeless stems. Once these are removed see if there is any damage to stems that could result in disease later infecting the plant and remove them. With diseased growth, caused by black spot or powdery mildew, it may be best not to mix cuttings with other garden waste and dispose it separately to prevent further contagion to the plant or others.

When pruning keep a chalice shape in mind. Basically, hold your hand up with your fingers splayed as if you were inspecting a crystal ball resting on the top of them. This is the shape you want your rose bush to resemble once pruned. Avoid crossing over stems to prevent rubbing and infection. All potential growth should be directed outwards to prevent further entanglement of stems in the future.

Use sharp secateurs and cut at an angle above the node. Blunt cutting tools could result in damage to the rose and make it susceptible to disease in the future. Cut around 2cm above each node at a 45% angle. The reason for the cutting at an angle, is that it prevents water gathering on the exposed cut, therefore stopping rot setting in.

Rose pink cut on table
  • Laying down an organic mulch, particularly well-rotted manure, in late winter is a good way to provide nutrients to the rose that will encourage further flowering throughout the summer.
  • For roses situated in beds, give one more feed using an all-purpose feed or rose fertiliser once the first wave of blooms has ended.
  • Roses in pots or planters will need more feeding as they have less natural access to nutrients within the soil. A liquid feed can be applied every two weeks from mid-spring to gain more flowers through the summer.
  • Tomato feed can also be effective at promoting further flowering in roses.

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Sam And Dean