The speaker at the meeting of the Littleton and Harestock Gardening Club on February 18th was Stewart Pocock, his subject “A Short Masterclass in Roses”
A video showed how Pococks rear roses, (50,000 every year), in two nurseries, near Romsey and in Cornwall. Rootstock is mechanically planted, (20,000 in a day) but much work is manual, such as propagation, pulling out suckers, (not to be cut) and pruning.
There followed a detailed verbal and practical demonstration of cultivation and husbandry of the many different varieties: how to plant, feed, prune and control disease. A few points: placing and preparation are important, ideally not where a rose has been grown before; in a spot where it will have at least half a day in the sun, and with plenty of organic matter (and no bone meal on chalk). Feeding is vital, little and often, as is mulching but never with bark chippings. Prune between November and the second week in March, and hard, to not more than a third of the original height, a little less in a windy area. Train the stems of climbers to grow horizontally. To treat blackspot stop the cycle: clear damaged leaves, mulch heavily and do not water at night. Water the plants only at their base. Leave aphids and other pests to their natural predators, such as birds and ladybirds. “Uncle Tom’s Rose Tonic” is recommended.
This talk by such an experienced rose grower together with some slides of stunning roses must have inspired the appreciative audience.
Wise advice from Stewart “Growing roses is easy if you have a good back!”
And “Do your homework before you buy.”