Gardening: Picking the right roses

When it comes to roses, you get what you pay for… consider where you buy them, says Cedric.

When it comes to roses, you get what you pay for… consider where you buy them, says Cedric.

ROSE-PLANTING time is fast approaching when all the new roses – plus the older, well-known varieties – arrive.

There is always a rush to be the first in town to be selling roses. Not so the garden centres, but supermarkets – which readers will well know, I don’t believe should be in the plant business.

One has only to look at the often wilted plants held under artificial light and air conditioning. What hope has any plant to be suddenly taken into the open garden with frosts at this time of the year, let alone pampered roses?

These supermarkets usually sell roses with the roots wrapped in plastic with more plastic over the stems.

To beat the garden centres, these roses are often only year-old roses with thin stems. The foliage is sprayed with a defoliant to shed the leaves early. Once again, under artificial light and air conditioning this encourages new soft shoots.

Planted out with a good frost, first the leaves shrivel and then the sap in the thin stems freezes. This spells the end of your rose!

I would never recommend buying roses less than two years old with well-established, thick stems. Nor would I recommend buying roses that are not displayed in the open air under natural conditions and potted up.

It is the old saying: “You get what you pay for.” If you pay only $5-$6 for a rose, don’t expect too much. Expect to pay at least $10-$12 for a good quality, two-year-old rose.

Even with a minimum of care, roses can provide enjoyment for easily the next 30 to 50 years, which is why I recommend buying them from the experts at a garden centre.

THE May edition of a leading Australian garden magazine advises readers that “now is the time to prune roses” with no qualification on different times depending on climate conditions. This may be the case in a temperate climate but definitely notin our local climate. Delay rose pruning until at least the middle of August to early September. The Horticultural Society of Canberra will be conducting rose-pruning demonstrations in July and I’ll have details of them in due course.

The stunning autumn berries of Callicarpa… flowers, autumn leaves and berries like this, what more do you want?

The stunning autumn berries of Callicarpa… flowers, autumn leaves and berries like this, what more do you want?

LOOK out for Callicarpa giraldiana (syn. C bodinieri). Introduced from China to the West by early plant hunters in 1845, the deep violet to lilac-purple autumn berries are stunning.

They follow the dark violet flowers that appear in late summer. The autumn foliage is deep rose purple.

A group of these small shrubs will give an awesome lift to a dull spot in the autumn garden. Flowers, autumn leaves and berries like this, what more do you want? And yet this plant that has gone out of fashion with the demand for everything that is evergreen.

Jottings…

• Tall bearded iris can be dug and divided now. Trim scraggly roots before replanting.

• Spring flowering Dianthus are now arriving in garden centres. Look out for new varieties such as “Candy Floss”, “Sugar Plum”, “Slap and Tickle” or “Waterloo Sunset”.

• Remove fallen leaves from the tops of small hedges such as Buxus or box and Hebe. Accumulated rotting leaves on top of plants can kill them.

• Keep off lawns when frost is on the ground.

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