In gardens across the land, roses are in full bloom. These beautiful plants are vulnerable to weather and pests. Are roses worth the effort it takes to keep them healthy, happy and blooming?
There are few flowers more fragrant and beautiful than a perfect rose in full bloom. They seem to be the quintessential flower of the English summer and will often keep blooming well into September.
My garden is graced by a few rose bushes planted by the previous owner and quite frankly, though the flowers are pretty, I’m thinking about ditching them.
They are just too much effort.
For a start, every year there is black spot to deal with. I have to start spraying before the leaves burst and clean away last year’s leaves and mulch. Then, when inevitably black spot gets a grip, I have to remove the diseased leaves from the thorny stems. But only if rust, powdery mildew, saw fly and green fly haven’t already devastated any chance of blooms.
And that is if I’m lucky enough to get any blooms at all. With the summers we’ve been getting, rose blindness and weather damage has been a real problem. When I do get blooms, I suppose dead-heading isn’t too much of a chore, but it still takes effort.
Extra fertilizing, nurturing through diseases and infestation, and cutting back for winter (when they stay as ugly, thorny twigs in my borders) makes roses very needy plants indeed. And when I say cut them back, I mean prune carefully – because you have to cut off the right amount of stem and prune them into the correct ‘bowl’ shape to keep your rose blooming and disease-free.
Is a garden without a rose still a garden?
But is an English garden complete without rose in the border? They flower for so much longer than peonies and at least they’re hardy.
Maybe I could replace my old-style hybrid tea roses with a new disease resistant floribunda, which should give me plenty of flowers and not be quite so susceptible to diseases?
Oh no, that’s right, if I plant it in the same spot in the ground, it’ll get rose-replant disease and die. I suppose I could dig out a tonne of earth or sprinkle mycorrhizal fungi on it or plant it in a cardboard box, but do I really want a rose that much?
I think I’ll just buy a peony.
Do you find your roses take up too much of your gardening time? Do rose pests and diseases make you reach for the chemical spray more often than you’d like? Or do you enjoy lavishing the care and attention on them and are rewarded with beautiful flowers?