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"Roses grow best on heavy clay soils with lots of organic matter helping to keep the surface roots moist and wet!"

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Roses are something we all love, especially in an English garden, but aren't they a lot of trouble? don't they suffer from lots of diseases and bugs?

Not a bit of it, especially if you take just a little care in your selection.


Now if you have studied the odd Rose catalogue, you may be a little confused, there are Gallica, Damask, Alba, Centifolia, Moss, China, Portland, Bourbon, Grandifolia and Miniature Roses. So what an earth are Shrub Roses?


Originally they were roses that didn't fit into any of the other categories. Hybridizers in Europe, North America and the Southern Hemisphere from 1900 onwards concentrated on this group. They were aiming to achieve rugged, easy to grow plants with good foliage, flowering profusely for a long season. Ideally large Hybrid Tea type blooms.


One of the most successful of these rose breeders has been David­Austin, from England. He has combined spring flowering old garden roses, with modern floribudas and hybrid teas. The result of all this careful breeding is a group, which has become known as "English Roses". These roses have very large blooms, many being doubles and also fragrant as well.


You are probably thinking that such roses are the answer to a gardener's prayer. The only problem is that, for the English climate anyway, is that there are one or two problems with these wonderful roses. One problem is that in some varieties, the flower heads are too large for the stems to bear, and so after heavy rain they tend to flop. Also, after rain, many of these varieties seem to be rather prone to black spot and other fungal diseases. This may be something to do with the intensive breeding. But, if you live in a climate that is not so damp as it is in England, I'm sure you will find these roses very useful.


However, if you do live in the UK or somewhere with a similar climate and just have to either grow these roses, or others that tend to be a little disease prone, don't despair: there is a solution. This is an old fashioned one, but it is very effective. What I am talking about here is a Tar-Oil Wash. Available from your local garden centre or store, this should be applied in late January, or once all danger of frost is past, and don't be mean with it: give it a really good wash.

For some varieties that shouldn't cause you quite so many problems. I have done a survey of Head Gardeners that I know and here are some recommendations of "good doers".


Canary Bird (Rosa xanthina)
This is a large shrub with arching stems small neat leaves and lovely, single, yellow fragrant flowers, about 2 inches across. It is classed as a wild rose, grows to about 8 feet, and is very tough. The musky scented flowers appear in late spring and again sparsely in autumn. In severe winters this rose can die back. As with all roses it does prefer to be planted in a sunny position and into well drained soil.


City of London
This rose forms a rounded bush about 3 feet tall with a spread of about 2.5 feet. It produces sweetly fragrant, urn-shaped double, blush pink flowers in dainty sprays, amid bright green foliage. This rose was raised by Harkness, in England from a cross between New Dawn and Radox Bouquet and was launched in 1987.


Gertrude Jekyll
This is a vigorous, free flowering; disease resistant rose was bred by David­Austin and launched in 1986. This rose, grows to 5 feet and produces beautiful double pink flowers, with a fabulous strong damask scent. So beautifully scented, in fact, that experiments have been made to produce perfume commercially from it.


Jacqueline du Pre
This is a free flowering shrub rose growing to a height of 6 feet with a spread of about 5 feet. It was also bred in England by Harkness from a cross between Radox Bouquet and Maigold and launched in 1989. The double-cupped shaped flowers are 4 inches across, a lovely ivory-white colour with a pink tinge and prominent red stamen. The perfume is a lovely musk. This rose which grows to 6 feet high by about 5 feet wide and as well as being used along with others can be used on it's own to make a stunning hedge.


Rosa moyseii
This rose has faintly scented, flat, single dusky scarlet flowers 2 inches across with yellow stamens, which are borne close to the branches. It grows to 12 feet tall with a spread of 10 feet and its most interesting feature is the beautiful long, red hips produced in autumn, which make a lovely winter feature.


Rosa Mundi (Rosa gallica Versicolour)

This is an ancient suckering shrub known since at least 1581. It is a striped sport of the Apothecary's Rose and has a good scent. It is believed that this rose was named after Fair Rosamund, mistress of Henry the second. It is summer flowering and grows to a height of 5 feet. It does suffer from mildew but despite this its very striking crimson flowers striped with pale blush pink make it a worthy specimen to grow.


Happy planting!





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