Journal of a rose gardener 15/02/17
This week in our gardens we have been carrying out a final winter clean up in the borders before the spring bulbs start to flower.
As the beds are now clear, we have considered what worked and didn’t work last year, and have moved some of the miniature conifers that were being overwhelmed by larger shrubs into a newly established bed, where we hope they will have space to shine.
Floribunda and Hybrid Tea roses have received their last pruning. Any dead, dying, crossing or thin stems were cut out to leave a strong framework with good air circulation. This should help to prevent the development of fungal diseases during the growing season. The strong remaining stems were cut back hard to an outward facing bud in order to encourage vigorous growth. This was done with a sloping cut to prevent any water settling on the wound and causing the wood to split. Any remaining old leaves have been stripped from the rose and destroyed. We have started our pruning a little earlier than we would recommend, simply because of the number of roses we have to prune. In a domestic setting you can wait until March.
It is essential when pruning, particularly thick stems, that your secateurs are sharp, as blunt blades will crush or split the stems, making them vulnerable to disease. Also ensure that when pruning multiple roses that you clean your secateurs in between each, to avoid spreading any disease that may be present.
We have applied a mulch about 2-3” thick in a ring around the base of the rose 3 or 4 inches clear of the stems. The reason we leave a gap is that manure which is insufficiently rotted could be acidic and may ‘burn’ the stems. We are using well-rotted manure. However it pays to be cautious.
Our ornamental deciduous grasses have been cut down to approximately 30cm from the ground allowing the new shoots to rise up unobscured.
Buttercups and Nettles are starting to put on growth now. We have dug them out before they have a chance to re-establish themselves.
Finally the beds have been hoed and raked over. This serves two purposes. Firstly, loose top soil will make weed pulling much simpler, as they appear in the spring. Secondly, it just makes everything look so much tidier! Like they say the quickest way to make a garden look tidy is to edge the lawn. Well the same applies to the borders. Tidy the soil and the whole thing looks neater.