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THE FLAIR OF ENGLISH ROSES
Staff Reporter / 2011-11-06 11:03:52
Ever since Henry Tudor defeated the red rose of York to set in place the Tudor dynasty, roses have become synonymous with England. After all, what could be more fair than an English rose?
But of course roses are no more of English origin than tea is. Originating from all over the world, notably China, what was Persia, and the Mediterranean, it was the French Empress Josephine who patronized the development of rose breeding at her gardens at Malmaison.
The Victorians with their love of collating and development seized on the beauty of the rose and by 1840 there were over a thousand cultivars a rosarium was planted by Loddiges Nursery for Abney Park Cemetery an early Victorian garden cemetery and arboretum in England.
Today we are lucky enough to have breeders such as David Austen who specialises in old, shrub and species roses. I think we all know that roses love Almerian sunshine – after all we see them used in council plantings everywhere, blooming for a good 8 months of the year. And whilst you can pick up the ubiquitous Tea Rose for next to nothing, nothing beats the luxuriance of an old fashioned shrub rose.
Why are these variety called shrub roses? Quite simply because they form a shrub, both in shape and size – within 3 years a bare rooted rose sent by the supplier will form a 5ft by 5 ft mound of glorious flowers.
What are the defining characteristics of an old English rose?
1) They form wonderful shrub roses, ideal for the border
The English Roses are designed to be used in mixed borders, where their glorious shrubby forms add great impact. These bushy plants have a graceful, shapely habit which makes them incredibly versatile in the garden, whether used alone in a traditional rose garden or mingled with herbaceous perennials where their long flowering season is very useful.
2) They are renowned for the variety and strength of their fragrances.
A browse through the catalogue will tell you more about the nuances of each rose's perfume, but one thing is certain: they almost all have a heady scent that even the hardened smoker will appreciate.
3) They typically have multi-petalled old rose style flower forms
The lovely quartered rosettes of William Shakespeare 2000 contain around 120 petals. The folded effect creates a lovely mixture of light and shade, creating a wonderful, velvety effect. Teasing Georgia has large blooms with a particularly pleasing cupped formation. Each flower head consists of about 110 delicately folded petals, perfectly arranged.
4) They are extremely healthy and reliable
5) They will repeat flower several times each season.
6) They are hugely versatile.
They can be grown in a mixed border, in pots, as standards or even as a hedge. As climbers they can be trained up a house or around a tree.
And now is the time of year to place your orders for English roses. Yes they will costs more than those you can pick up in the local market (around 14.99 each plus p&p) but you will get your return both in beauty and abundance of flower, perfume, and size of plant when grown. If you go to any of the specialist breeders websites (David Austen is one of the most famous but by no means the only one) there will be detailed information to help you choose, and if you have any doubts, contact the store itself and they will give you advice on variety and which ones do best here in Spain. It may be the best plant you ever treat yourself to!
How to plant:
As I said last week, how you put your plants into the ground is worth twice as much as the value of the plant itself. Here are some tips:
By the time a plant is watered into the ground, about 90% of the factors that determine its care requirements will have been determined.
1. Choose a suitable plant
2. Choose a suitable site
!f the first four steps are done well, the rest of the steps may not need to be done at all. Do any of these steps is badly, and no amount of attention to the other steps will compensate. Do them well and the plant will likely thrive.
1. Choose the right plant
The most important issue in caring for a plant is choosing one that will thrive where it is to be grown. Factors of temperature, light, humidity, water/rainfall, soil fertility, root competition, shade, and so on need to be considered
2. Choosing a good Site
There are a number of issues to deal with in siting; the two really big ones over which you have control are sunlight and soil
• Choose a site with at least six hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.
• Use fertile, neutral soil
• Amend poor soil
• Get ample water
• Beware of hungry trees
1) Dig a hole. whose diameter about matches the diameter of the plant at the end of two years. Shrub roses get holes about three feet across. Climbers planted along a wall may get holes a little bigger than this. In any case, the holes should fully accommodate the roots.
If the soil is poor, and is being replaced with imported soil, then dig down eighteen inches or two feet
2) Make a mound. Once you have a suitable hole, place a cone-shaped mound of soil in the centre of the rose whose dimensions roughly match the cone defined by the roots. (If it is a potted plant, don't do this step.)
3) Place the rose into the hole. Try to make sure the roots are straight and evenly distributed around the hole. If it is a potted rose, check to make sure the roots aren't encircling the rose.
4) Fill halfway with earth. Add some slow-release organic fertilizer - perhaps a cup, and fill the hole with water. When the water has drained from the hole, fill in the hole with soil.
5) Pack the soil firmly. & shape the surface. Make a cone-shaped indentation that catches water and sends it to the rose at the centre of the hole.
7) Mulch. Place about 3 inches of mulch on the hole. This will limit evaporation, keep the soil cool, provide some organic matter to fuel life below ground, and limit weed growth.
8) Water In. Apply plenty of water to the rose. Water not only is required to cause the roots to become active, but it also aids in settling the soil into the hole, helping to fill large voids. This is essential to improve soil contact with roots. Water weekly the first year.
9) Water Regularly. For the first three or four months after a rose is transplanted, water every other day or so. Bare root roses are especially vulnerable because they have not formed feeder roots yet.
Gravel can be used as a mulch although it adds nothing to the soil. You can use a compost mulch. I wonder if almond shells would work?
Mulch improves the quality of life of a rose in several ways:
• It prevents competing plants from taking root in your plant's territory;
• It decreases water evaporation from the soil without decreasing absorption,
• It decreases temperature swings in the soil, keeping it cooler during the summer and warm during the winter