Archive for February 22nd, 2009

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• Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

My passion for roses came about when I discovered English roses. Until then I had only known about cup roses which, whilst they are lovely, often lack the fragrance of the English rose.

To me nothing compares with the fragrance of an old English rose and certainly 2008 has seen the resurgence of the famous English rose amongst gardeners. In my garden you will find fine specimen of luscious roses – a total of 12 varieties, mainly from the David Austin nursery.

Gertrude Jekyll rose

Gertrude Jekyll rose

Amonst my favourite roses are Teasing Georgia for its abundance of flowers, its Tea Rose perfume and its repeat flowering habit. My rose bushes are planted next to the path leading up to the terrace and I cannot fail to notice the succession of fragrances as I am walking along.

Also high on my list of favourite rose varieties is Jude the Obscure. It is said to be rather susceptible to rain damage on the petals but I like the shape of the flower which is quite distinct (very large incurved cup shaped flowers) as well as the subtle perfume: sweet and aromatic like a glass of chardonnay wine.

Finally, it is said to be the nation’s favourite rose and it is surely mine too: Gertrude Jekyll – stunning with its rich pink blossom and the true perfume of the English Old Rose.

English roses are generally fairly easy to grow. I have had some diseases with my roses but I still do not use any pesticides or other chemical products.
For example one of my apricot-coloured rose (called Pat Austin) was badly affected by blackspot two years ago. A friend of mine recommended to cut the bush right back and to dispose of all the cuttings in the green bin.

So we cut the rose back to 2 inches from the ground which seems quite cruel at the time and I wasn’t sure that the bush would recover from this drastic approach.
The following year the bush grew back some new shoots and admittedly the rose was overall smaller than before; but last summer it looked healthy and good and it is coming back to its original height.

Roses and Sweet Williams

Roses and Sweet Williams

What about aphids on roses?

They tend to appear in mass in Spring and they feed on the sap of roses. Because I try to garden organically I do not spray my roses. At the beginning of summer I try to squeeze the insects between my fingers. But then the lady birds take over and I guess I am lucky to have enough lady birds to rid me of the little aphids throughout summer. Or is it because I don’t spray my plants that I get so many of the beloved insects?

Certainly I have noticed that my greenhouse offers the little ladybirds a nice shelter to over winter each year. And yes – the early rose buds do get damaged by the first aphids but I believe that it is worth it to remain organic.

Top TipMy top tip: the perfect combination: roses & sweet williams.
Sweet williams are fairly compact plants which surround the rose bush tightly hence preventing a lot of weeds to come through. I definitely recommend growing them together.

Was it tip-top for you? Please leave a comment – thank you!