If buying bare rooted heritage fruit trees was a priority the first winter we were establishing the garden at Fairy Wren Cottage then planting roses was the priority for the second year. I saved up for a bulk order just like I did for the fruit trees.
It is cheaper to buy roses bare rooted from nurseries or mail order during the colder months. I checked when the rose companies that sell via mail order had their cut off date for orders and when they delivered. They sent their rose catalogues and I poured through them, then circled every single rose that Lil and I liked, then crossed off roses when I narrowed down the list following my own criteria.
The roses needed to;
Flower continually or have a long flowering season.
If possible be pest and disease resistant (not suffer from blackspot)
Flower at varying times from each other. eg.I didn’t want all the roses in my garden to only flower once at the start of Spring.
Have sentimental value.
I knew how much money I had saved for the bulk rose order, including the postage I stayed on budget. I also kept in mind I would like to add to the garden buying a rose here or there the following years to come.
Buying roses from a local nursery is always fun and I checked with the lovely nursery owner when the bare root roses would be arriving. Looking through all the roses, reading their pretty labels, wondering how I can fit another one in because it reminds me of friends or family who live far away or because I have read about a certain rose or seen it on a gardening show. I’m sure Lil has as much fun shopping for roses as I do, on the other hand my patient darling Michael stands close by to carry the roses and put them in the car. All the while I know he is thinking not another bl**** rose to plant and he gets out the crow bar and shovel when we get home, digging the holes for them, helping me plant them. Michael knows how much joy the roses bring and in return that brings him joy, we talk about these things a lot. I am grateful that he indulges me and as a thank you for getting out that crow bar again Lil or I make him sweetie treats. It’s a win win.
Originally not a fan of roses it was my darling neighbour Mrs C in Victoria who slowly but surely opened my eyes to their beauty. Each summer when the soft pink roses were in full bloom she would pick me an armful from her garden. Each year around the same time I would see Mrs C walk through the large purple paddock gate that separated our paddock from her property, always so generous sharing her garden and gardening knowledge with me. Over the weeks that those roses were inside in a big vase on the table near the book shelf I would walk past them several times a day, admiring them, stopping to smell them and then missing them when they were gone.
Instead of clumping all the roses in one garden bed together Mrs C had spaced her roses out through the beautiful garden beds she and her husband Mr C had created. When they weren’t lush and flowering but looking half dead after a good prune the rose bushes no longer looked stark and hard on the eye, the perennials and bulbs growing around them softening the whole look of the garden. Tucking roses into garden beds surrounding them with other plants instead of planting them all in just one feature garden bed really made sense to me. I could plant the roses back from the edge of the garden path out of harms way so little hands, dogs eyes and our clothing was out of the reach of those thorns.
Things I have learnt about growing roses at Fairy Wren Cottage:
The year I planted garlic cloves around the canopy line of the Darcy Bussell rose and the garlic bulbs were ultra gigantic and the rose bloomed and bloomed was when the bottom of a large bag of sheep manure broke and the whole bag landed on the rose. It was late Sunday afternoon, I left it there, forgot about it until I was wondering was there any particular reason the rose was growing and flowering so well considering it had struggled in previous years! Unfortunately emptying a large bag of sheep manure on each rose in our garden isn’t very cost effective.
We mulch around the roses with large biscuits of hay once a year and only water the roses in the heat of summer if it hasn’t rained for weeks and they look like they need a drink.
With the soil being so lousy here and even the hardiest of roses struggling I added Sudden Impact to the feeding routine. First off we fed them in late August and early January. My instagram friend Sarah (instagram name @berrycottagegardener ) mentioned she also fed her roses in April, once we started the extra April feed we really saw a difference and it extended the flowering season. Sarah’s garden is beautiful and she has some gorgeous rose varieties it is really worth a look!
Edit: January 2020. I no longer use Sudden Impact or commercial plant feeds, finding it was only a good short term fix. I still feed our roses in August, early January and April but with 1/2 bag of organic cow manure. Our garden is more resilient, the plants healthier and thriving.
I have also noticed with our rainfall the early flowering larger cup shaped roses like the David Austin rose ‘Malmaison’ don’t go well in our garden. The rose bud or flower collects rain water, the petals become soggy and the bloom dies off. At first I thought this may have been happening because of where the rose was planted, thinking the rose bush was dying so bought another and soon learned it was the rain water effecting the flowers, nothing else. That’s ok, I just now look for varieties that flower in the warmer months if they have the same flower cupped shape as the Malmaison.
I’ve started planting a robust climber next to climbing roses. Potato vines work well here, the rose twines around the potato vines robust branches and the vine provides a frame work for the rose to grow on, the vine also provides shelter and protection for the rose on those blustery windy days. When the rose stops flowering the vines hides those ugly thorny branches. I no longer need to worry about tying the rose up, or asking Michael to attach wires to the fence to stop the rose from flopping and its branches breaking.
When there is rain or heavy winds forecast Lil or I take a trug and secateurs outside and collect every rose we can find, we bring them inside to the kitchen table and have a lovely time together arranging the roses in little vases, jam jars and jugs. It is heartbreaking to see such gorgeous blossoms getting caught in the weather.
Establishing our Garden: Roses.
December 13, 2018