Rose gardens have been around for thousands of years, with mention of them in the gardens of Babylon and illustrations of rose gardens found in 14th Century BC pyramids.
The main rose we use today is Rosa chinensis which was cultivated in China for display and for medicinal purposes for millennia.
It wasn’t until the 18th Century that the Chinese rose cultivars came to Europe. By 1840, thousands of cultivars were available for sale. Today there are tens of thousands of cultivates from over 300 rose species.
So this your chance to add to this fragrant tradition- make your own rose garden!
Over the last few years Glorious Gardens have been asked more frequently to create traditional rose gardens, as people are no longer worried about their old fashioned reputation.Especially with new rose cultivars, interesting underplanting, and contemporary plant combinations, a rose garden can be a very fresh addition to your garden.
Space and Soil
The first thing you need is a good area to grow them. They don’t like too much wind so a sheltered space is preferable, with moist soil. They love clay because of all the minerals in this type of soil and don’t mind having their feet wet in Winter as long as there is not weeks of water logging. If you have more sandy or chalky soil, prepare the beds with a 50% mix of compost and manure and dig this into the ground. Go for at least 30cm of the good stuff. They can’t get enough richness. Your roses will need at least 6 hrs of direct sunlight to thrive.
If your rose garden will be considerable in size, you can prepare your holes individually and mix the compost and manure with the preexisting soil and then plant separate roses in their own space.
Preparation is everything so if you are beginning from scratch now is the time to put lots of effort into good soil composition. They like 6.5 PH which is slightly acidic but they happily grow in the alkaline soils of Brighton where I live.
Think about what type of roses you want: what colour, what shaped flower, what height. Also think about the style of rose: Hybrid Teas, Grandiflora and Floribundas, Miniatures, Standards or climbing and rambling roses. There are so many roses out there I can’t possibly go into them now but if it is big project you might like to run it past me or another garden designer first.
Colour combination is really important as colours that jar can ruin your whole display.
Buying your Roses and planting them
If you wait until November, you can buy bare root roses which have been lifted from fields and tend to have a greater root spread. Also it is an ideal time to plant as hot whether won’t dry the new plants out.
If you are digging individual holes, take out an area at least twice that of the root ball volume, including the depth, and plant the nodule, where the stems meet the root, about an inch of two below the surface. This prevents the more wild rose, that your cultivar rose is grafted onto, from shooting up above ground, turning your lovely rose into a bramble like creature!
Normally space the roses about 60cm from each other though this depends on the roses you have chosen. Tease out the roots if they are pot bound and cluttered together. You can firstly sprinkle the roots with Mychorrizal fungi which helps them establish.
Maintaining your roses
You need to dead head them regularly in order in encourage repeat flowering in to the Autumn. Another feed in the mid summer, as well as the big feed in early Spring, is helpful and if you get aphids, an extremely weak solution of dishwashing light can dissolve the wax on the aphids back which can can rid of most of them. They like some air around them to prevent them getting too much mildew so make sure they have plenty of space to grow into.
And of course the big pruning in January- look on Youtube for some good videos.
Underneath the roses, especially around the edges of your new rose garden, have a look at White or Pink flowering Lavender as well as the smaller traditional lavneder, Hidcot.
You can also think about Aster ericoides’ Snow Flurry;, Geranium ‘Wargrave Pink’ and Geranium ‘Orkney Cherry’. Verbacum, Penstemons, Campanula (not campanula portenschlagiana ) Gaura and Lamb’s Ear. Seaholly is great especially with pink roses as well as Baptisa.
My three favourite roses at the moment: Rosa mutabalis, Rosa Twice in a New Moon and Rosa Wollerton Old Hall.
What to do with your vegetables this August
Irregular watering can lead to problems such as blossom end rot in tomatoes and splitting of root vegetables, so make sure to water well during dry spells.
Weeds compete with vegetables for water and act as hosts for pests and diseases, so remove them regularly by hoeing.
Marrows should be raised off the ground slightly, to prevent them discolouring from contact with the soil.
Continue earthing up celery, putting a layer of paper between the stems and the soil and take care when thinning out any late-sown carrot seedlings to prevent the scent released attracting carrot fly females.
Finally, check vegetables regularly for aphids and deal with them as soon as you see them. Make sure you understand the different requirements and threats to your vegetables and take the correct precautions and your vegetables should survive the hot and dry month of August!
Where to visit this August
If you haven’t been to the National Trust garden, Nymans to the east of the village of Handcross, then a visit will be thrilling to you. The garden was developed, starting in the late 19th century, by three generations of the Messel family, and was brought to renown by Leonard Messel. So it is a horticultural collection of fascinating plants.