November meeting: Rose Growing made easy – Simon White

Simon White is the President of Norwich Horticultural Society and Sales Manager for the RHS award winning Peter Beales Garden Centre in Attleborough, Norfolk, where he has worked for 41 years.

He gave an entertaining and informative talk on growing roses. He said, if provided with the right conditions, it was not true that roses were difficult to grow. Simon said Beales had the largest collection of roses in the world. They primarily sell bare root roses and many old traditional classic roses. They grow from seed some 250,000  a year in fields rented from a local farmer and he described how they grew them.

He then went on to show how we at home could grow bare root roses:

1.THEY NEED GOOD SOIL PREPARATION: Ideally bare root  roses should be planted from November to March. Good  quality fertiliser,  including horse manure which is at least six month old, should be used. Do not use mushroom manure.

2. PLANTING: Traditionally if the rose is a replacement for a previous rose in this spot it is recommended that the soil be replaced. A hole should be dug 1.5 ft deep and 1.5 ft sq. But he said a cardboard box could be used  instead and placed in the hole and the bare root positioned in it  and covered with John Innes No 3. Plant the roots deep about one inch below the soil surface so that the graft union is at soil level. Fertilisers such as bone meal  should not be allowed to touch the roots.

Planting depth for graft union
Planting depth, graft union

3. DISTANCE: Modern roses should  be planted  1.5 ft apart,  shrubs 2-3 ft apart and climbers/ramblers  7 – 10 ft apart.

4. PRUNING: Traditionally it was recommended that roses be pruned on 14  February but  up to  March is OK. The first pruning should  be at a bud and 3 inches from the base.  The rose should  be pruned to the shape of a wine glass so that they  grow bushy. Put a cane over it  so that you know where it is.   Cut back dead, damaged,  weak and wavy stems.

5. FEEDING: Feed twice a year  a potash based fertiliser in March and July  such as Top Rose or Uncle Toms Rose Tonic  which although more expensive is better. Use a liquid feed  every  fortnight  from May to September.  He also recommended banana skins as they  contain potash. Roses need lots of water often every day in summer.

Rose Feeds
Types of Rose feed

ROSES SIMON RECOMMENDED: Many  of the older traditional roses are not repeat flowerers, but as he pointed out neither are the much loved daffodils. 1.SHRUB ROSES: Charles de Mills, White Pet, Comte de Chamord, Mutabilis, Bonica, Cornelia, Ferdinand Pichard, Jacqueline Du Pre, Irene Watts, Macmillan Nurse,  Maidens Blush, Roundelay, Rosa Mundi(grown since the twelfth century), St Ethelberga, Gardener’s Joy.  

2. CLIMBERS: He recommended using   electrician’s cable ties  for climbers and ramblers rather than string as they were less damaging and lasted longer. Bantry Bay, Awakening, Blush Noisette, Alba, Clarence House, Madame Gregoire Staechelin, Mermaid, City of York,  Souvenir de Dr. Jamais, Madame Alfred Carriere which needs a north wall. 3. HYBRID TEA ROSES: Twice in a Blue Moon, Savoy Hotel, Peace, Silver Jubilee, Royal William, Pascale.  

Twice in a Blue Moon
Twice in a Blue Moon

4. FLORIBUNDA: Burgundy Ice, Hot Chocolate, Champagne Moments, Norwich  Castle, Rhapsody in Blue, Arthur Bell, Sexy Roxy. 5. AUTUMN FLOWERING: Scabiosa, Glauca. 6. RAMBLERS: Chevy Chase, Francoise Juranville, Phyllis Bide, Sanders White,   Gardenia.

Simon also discussed roses in pots which you can buy over the summer. But he pointed out  that bare roots are often more economical. Use 15-18 inch pots and water daily in summer. He  showed a range of secateurs for pruning and recommended ARS fruit pruners. As he said, you get what you pay for and he also recommended Felcos which are expensive. He also recommended  Rose Clear and Uncle Toms Rose Tonic as fertilisers. I have been to Beales Garden Centre  several times and have had its bare root roses. I enjoyed my  visits very much. Its rose garden was spectacular. In fact my favourite rose,  the climber Madame Gregoire  Staechelin, came from Beales. It  has a magnificent display of scented pink roses in May.  For further information on growing roses look at the Beales website:           Angela  


Simon White and CABAHS Chair Vija
Simon and our Chair, Vija

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