I’ve planted them, fed them, sprayed them, pruned them and dug them up, but for all the many hours I’ve spent with roses, I still can’t say that I love them. Occasionally, they are stunning; much of the time they are boring skeletons of bare, barbed twigs.
Yet roses are still one of the nation’s most-loved flowers, and even now, as autumn gets into its stride, people are planting new ones, confident that they will still be blooming in 20 years.
Which may well be the case – as long as the roses in question have been given the right start in life and then plenty of tlc for the next two decades.
Try to give them a warm, sunny spot, preferably where there are no cold winds. Excavate a hole bigger than the root ball of the rose, and then throw in plenty of well-rotted manure.
Newly-planted roses – like all shrubs and trees – need plenty of water to help them establish themselves. Water thoroughly at planting time and then water at least once a week. Occasionally add a liquid fertiliser. And when planting, place an empty, bottomless plastic water bottle in the hole so that it sits next to the roots. Leave the top of the bottle protruding from the soil; when it’s time to water, pour straight into the bottle and all the water will get to where it’s needed most – the rose’s roots.
Keep a wary eye for greenfly and other pests – spray with a systemic insecticide.
Roses are still relatively easy to grow and can provide superb flowers and fragrance, are relatively cheap and suit all occasions So, yes, let’s give them what they deserve; do them justice and they’ll respond with years of flowers and fragrance. Perhaps...