Most people think of roses as finicky creatures, and many are. English Garden Roses, on the other hand, have the lush flowers and pleasing fragrance people love about roses, amply supplied on vigorous, lush, disease-resistant bushes that flower all season long. They are bred for the garden, not the garden show, and if given just a minimum of common sense care they will provide season after season of abundant blooms.
From Michael Marriott, senior Rosarian for David Austin Roses, come these tips for peak performance and enjoyment of romantic, fragrant English Roses:
- Ideally, if you have the space, plant in tight groups of three of the same variety. This allows the roses to grow together to form the appearance of one dense shrub. The approach provides a more continuous display and makes a more definite statement in the border.
- Plant approximately 18 inches apart (45 cm) within the group. Adjacent plants of neighboring varieties should be planted approximately 3 feet away (90 cm).
- For hedges, plant fairly close together approximately 18 inches apart (45 cm) for maximum effect.
- Roses will grow in a wide range of soils. They do, however, appreciate good soil preparation. The addition of a generous quantity of well-rotted manure or garden compost before planting will help to ensure strong growth.
- On arrival, plant bare root roses as soon as possible. Never allow the roots to dry out at any time prior to and during planting. Before planting, soak the whole plant in water overnight.
- When planted, the base of the canes (bud union) should be about 3 inches (7 cm) below ground level in cold winter areas and at ground level in mild winter areas.
- Water in well and mound the base of the canes with about 6 inches (15 cm) of compost, soil or bark chippings until the plants leaf out.
- Container roses should be soaked thoroughly before planting and planted at the same depth as bare root roses.
- Regular watering is essential, the rose will be stronger, healthier and, most importantly, produce more flowers. Depending on your climate and the time of year it is recommended that deep watering should be done at least once a week and often more frequently.
- Roses, especially the repeat flowering varieties, need a generous supply of nutrients regularly through the growing season, although this should not be applied too close to the onset of winter.
- Slow release or organic fertilizers applied to the ground are the most effective; however foliar feeds are also valuable for a quick effect and to help keep the leaves healthy.
- Mulching with organic matter (a very wide range is available) is a very important part of rose growing, helping to conserve water, keeping the ground cool and feeding the microorganisms and worms in the soil. It should preferably be well rotted and, if it starts to diminish during the season, be reapplied.