My imagined perfect Rose garden didn’t translate as desired from my mind to the garden, but I can’t deny that occasionally we get a stunning display of roses. Usually this is for a couple of weeks in spring – until the first unseasonable heatwave scorches the flowers, or they are battered by wind and rain. Considering the damage that steady rain can do to roses, I wonder how they can do well in places like England where they have been adopted as the national flower.
We also get some decent flowers in autumn, and in preparation for this year I gave mine a hard pruning in February. Maybe they haven’t flowered any better than previous autumns, but the pruning has done them no harm.
In the back garden I have a selection of David Austins. These are old-fashioned looking roses, many of which have a very pleasing fragrance. They have a reputation for having a long abundant flowering period in contrast to those genuinely older style roses that they resemble.
In my small collection I have a variety of shades of pink and two different types of white. Some of the darker pinks were supposed to be a deep red, but they didn’t live up to the advertised descriptions. Those pictured are the pale pink “Heritage” and the white is “Winchester Cathedral”.
I also have a “New William Shakespeare”. This is supposed to be a deep red but isn’t. It is also supposed to be quite resistant to problems but a little earlier today I noticed it has a terrible case of blackspot.
Others in the collection are “Hero” which has refused to flower for the last two years; “Othello” – a lovely dark pink with a very sweet fragrance like lemonade; “Mary Rose", with a VERY pink flower and “Glamis Castle”, a prolifically blooming white.
While these roses can flower profusely, I have found that the flowers are extremely delicate and drop petals very easily. Successful deadheading needs a very light touch, otherwise the scale of the task is increased; as one spent head is removed the displacement of petals leaves more heads to be dealt with.