Easy roses for our gardens

As we all start to get busy and re-inspired by our gardens one of the first things we’re thinking about are those annual jobs that need doing. One such job is pruning, which can be a little daunting, especially when we’re talking about roses. At Aberglasney we have over a hundred different varieties of roses and there is a multitude of different pruning types and methods to consider. With the added job of not damaging any of the thousands of bulbs that are coming through underneath, this can seem quite an overwhelming task. Roses are a very complicated group of plants to grow in some ways and not just because of the many different pruning methods, there’s also pest control and positions as well as training and so on.

They are however really worth the effort and not only are they an important part of Aberglasney but also British gardening. With careful choice many of the above complications can be avoided and roses can still be grown very well. Single flush shrub roses which include the shrub, miniature and Rugosa groups are simple and easy to grow. The same can be said for the Alba, Centifolia, Damask, Gallica, Hybrid Musk, Moss, Scots and Sweet Briar groups. Likewise the repeat flowering shrub roses like Bourbon, China, Portland and Remontant roses. These are all basically simple shrub roses that are usually old varieties or selections from wild species. For us they have proved to be disease resistant, tough and vigorous requiring little mollycoddling like many of the highly bred types.

As long as they have some sun, good mulch from time to time and are well watered in their first year they tend to do fine. The single flush types require very little pruning other than a good dead head in the autumn and the removal of weak dead, diseased or damaged stems. The repeat types are equally easy and need only to have the strong growth reduced by a third to keep the plant balanced and again the removal of weak dead, diseased or damaged stems. Expert growers will do much more to theirs but the above is enough to give you good healthy plants that provide a good show.

When it comes to using them we always tell the students to consider them to be shrubs not roses. This may sound odd but it is a great way to think when it comes to placing them as they make great back of the border plants, shrub border plants or even hedges. We grow a great many shrub roses at Aberglasney and in a variety of positions however there are certain types that work well in our rose garden and don’t need major care.

Rosa Susan Williams Ellis, Gertrude Jekyll, Kew Gardens, Heritage, Lady Salisbury, Tuscany Superb and Centifolia Fantin Latour are all types that have single flushes and do well for us. In fact many seem to keep flowering for a long time. Rosa de rescht and Ferdinand Pichard are excellent repeat flowers as are most of the Rugosa types of which we have too many to list. Between this list and some good climbers and ramblers you can have a good rose garden that is trouble free. Another very effective way to grow these roses is to just have lots in the border or through the garden as they have such a long flowering period you will have an excellent show. It’s best to buy from good growers with lots of expertise as you need to know the type to know how to prune it. If you don’t it can be a long struggle with trial and error.

Tips for the week

  • Prune roses except climbers and ramblers
  • Have a think about adding some shrub roses
  • Sow aubergines and potted broad beans
  • If they have finished flowering thin snowdrops
  • Dead head early bulbs (many Daffodils are already on the way over)