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Sexy Rexy or Buxom Beauty?

The snowdrops maybe in full bloom right now, but as February marks the month of love, there is another flower which cannot go unmentioned. This is of course the Rose. Roses have been the symbol of love for hundreds of years, and where would our florists be without them? Come to think of it, where would men be without them? We’d have to make a decision as to which single flower to purchase, to show our affection to our intended.

Roses had a great ‘boom’ period in the 60’s where homeowners and councils alike, removed geometric shapes from their lawns, creating island beds filled with roses. Equally spaced and pruned accurately, these hardy, woody shrubs lived on for years and examples of these schemes can still be witnessed. Associated with bare soil, manure, flat caps and the dreaded ‘P’ word (pruning), these woody and often stumpy plants, with their short lived blooms in vile colours, would eventually be seen off with a white talcum powder like coating of powdery mildew by late summer… I really don’t understand why they ever went out of fashion!!! Well thankfully those days are gone, and I reckon it’s about time our roses made a 21st century comeback. Just as Dahlias did a few years ago, I think roses deserve a second chance.

Some of the modern roses with great pest and disease resistance and an instinct for repeat flowering have been bread with the old fashioned sweet smelling types to make wonderful garden plants. To add to this, there are roses for every situation, from pergolas and pots to hedges and even partially shaded walls. They look great planted in a mixed border, especially when underplanted with a free flowering, hardy Geranium.

It’s not too late to buy your bare root roses, but act quickly as they need to be in the ground before the end of the month ideally. Soak the roots in a bucket of water for around 30 minutes while you dig a very generous hole about 40cm deep and 30cm wide.  Incorporate well rotted manure or compost into the planting hole and plant slightly deeper than you would normally, so the graft (knuckle) is under the ground. Back fill with soil and firm well. Don’t prune until next month. And as for the variety you choose, be it Rosa ‘Sexy Rexy’, ‘Buxom Beauty’ or one of the more sophisticated named cultivars, be sure to go for a repeat flowerer with great scent.

Other jobs to do this month include

  • Pruning deciduous shrubs such as Berberis Prune Clematis (type 3 / late flowering types only)
  • Prune Wisteria
  • Order seed potatoes and onion setts

My favourite Rose at the moment is Rosa ‘Gertrude Jekyll’.

Although filmed in July, the following short video will show you how to look after your Wisteria to ensure great flowering next month