Rose Care and Underplanting – Thomas Stone

Choose healthy plants, preferably ball-root, and use good compost, Rootgrow (mycorrhizal fungi) and Vitax Q4. Thomas digs square holes,  planting in the middle, an inch deeper than the hole itself, taking the roots to the edges, to encourage root spread. When pruning ensure very sharp secateurs and pruning saws, getting rid of dead or diseased wood, remembering the shape you wish to achieve, and improving air flow.

Bush roses are strong, shrubby growers. When pruning ideally leave no wood older than four years, prune to an outward facing  bud and peg longer stems to produce long arches of flowers. Keep clear at the base.

Shrub roses are weaker in growth, and need the support of older wood. Prune to an inward facing bud, to help to hold the shape. They  need a mix of  stems;  grow 2 to 7 foot. Aim for a free standing, self supporting shrub after 5 years; ensure there is an air flow. Reduce new shoots from the base by two thirds of the height.

Wild shrub roses are normally species of roses or close hybrids. They tend not to require much pruning, just shaping and dead wood removal.

Ramblers are natural clumbers that achieve long growth each year, from 6 foot to over 60 foot and can be wrapped around garden features such as pergolas. All the flowered wood should be removed after flowering, normally in July or August. They are very easy to prune, but are usually thorny.

Climbing roses are basically bush or shrub roses that grow too big, to 4 or five feet, and require support. Prune like shrub roses, and tie in new growth. One of Thomas’s slides showed a lovely specimen, a Constance Spry trained against a wall at Mottisfont, famed for its rose garden. Prune in March, when the leaves have gone, and after the frosts, removing any spent flower heads.

Pruning cuts should be angled, and made just above the bud and pruning saw cuts close to the base. Use wires for support on walls: drill holes 4 bricks apart in the cement, not the bricks, insert Rawlplugs and fix the wire securely.

Many colourful slides showed how effective underplanting can be,,,complementary or contrasting or toning specimens, enhancing, and even protecting their neighbours. The choice is wide: Dianthus, Eryngium giganteum, Geranium pratense, Campanula latifolia, Linaria, AchilleaTaygeta, Lavendula, Iris pallida, Campanula persicifolia, Allium Christophii, Lychnis coronaria are a few.

Rosette- forming and clump-forming subjects work well and proportion matters so that the underplanting does not overwhelm or conceal the roses After Thomas’s talk the number of questions asked illustrated members’ interest in his  subject  and inspiring presentation.