At the risk of sounding repetitive I am about to say that nature always has the upper hand and indeed when we had Countryfile filming here a couple of weeks ago we had barely a rose to show for ourselves, let alone any other colour in the paddock. Happily the sun shone despite a gloomy forecast and all went well so do look out for us on Wednesday 15th at 7.30. Meanwhile, thanks to the sun shining, the roses are now in full bloom.
There is something so exciting about seeing the first English rose breaking into bloom and indulging one’s starved senses with that incredible scent. It gives such a huge lift to one’s spirits and heralds the start of a summer of happiness surrounded by exquisite flowers. Banish the thoughts of mildew, blackspot and aphid infestation and concentrate on the extreme pleasure which garden roses have the ability to provide. With the right varietal choice, you can have garden roses flowering from now until the first frosts and with very little work. Even if you haven’t managed to plant bare rooted bushes, you can plant containerised ones at any time as long as you put a bit of effort into placing them in a good position and watering them really well before you plant them. You will be rewarded with a summer of scent and beauty and a load of happy bees!
A Gertrude Jekyll – pink rosettes and generous scent.
A mild winter followed by recent heavy frosts has caused some confusion amongst the roses. They were still growing when we pruned them at the end of February and this boosted more new growth which then got hit by the frost, becoming blackened and shrivelled. If this sounds familiar then have faith and leave these stems in situ, they will grow through this either by aborting the stems and pushing out new ones or just losing the affected leaves and producing more. These beautiful young red leaves of Sweet Parfum de Provence, a Delbard rose, have escaped unscathed and are a reassuring sign of the deep pink, fragrant blooms to follow.
Growing under glass, the sweet peas are unaffected by these late frosts and are flowering madly. Have a look at the beautiful bouquets we are sending out at Real Flower Company.
With Chelsea Flower Show less than a month away, mornings such as this (down to zero) are doing nothing to help the progress of viable English roses which are meant to be flowering soon ready to take centre stage on The Real Flower Company’s stand (EA539). Even the tulips in my garden have collapsed under the frost, heads hanging in a listless fashion and fresh rose leaves, so full of promise are flopping helplessly.
However the violets I saw on my run this morning were ignoring the vagaries of the weather and the ducks too, like every other year, are ahead of the game and already on patrol at the Rose paddock with 12 ducklings in a regimented line.
It has to be the weirdest season weather-wise and one of the hardest to know what to do horticulturally. With temperatures ranging from 17 to -1 any fragile seedling doesn’t stand a chance! Gardeners are inherently impatient but we need to err of the side of caution for a while longer and not send out tender plants outside like lambs to the slaughter. However in complete contrast our Chichester based sweet peas are mollycoddled to put it mildly, romping away in glass houses and loving the sun, secure in the knowledge that they will be protected from Mother Nature . We are currently cutting thousands of stems a day to send to The Real Flower Company to turn into spring bouquets.
I admit I have an addiction but its a healthy one I promise and it’s not one I have to give up for Lent! Wherever I am, I am always on a rose hunt. Are there any? If so, where are they growing and how are they being grown? I have seen some incredible specimens and am always amazed at their resilience. These were a case in point:
Rugosas just coming into growth despite sub zero temperatures and the snow having melted around them, being grown in an exposed site but tightly tied to protect them from the elements and looking remarkably healthy despite the climate. You have to hand it to the species – they have a will to survive which is hugely admirable.
Following nature’s lead this spring we have been putting up the polytunnels, grabbing every still day available to avoid plastic blowing all across Hampshire. It’s always an exciting time when the roses are pruned and the tunnels are up and ready; it really feels as though we are on track for the new season with these tasks completed and now we can look forward to the first buds appearing.
Easter is just a few days away and The Real Flower Company are celebrating with an Eastery collection of yellow and white scented roses, the new season’s sweet peas and a scatter of fragrant herbs all combined in their Easter Bouquet.
This must have been the first pruning day of the year that it was warm enough without a jacket. Tackling the climber somehow doesn’t seem so daunting with the sun on one’s back. Mme Alfred Carriere has put on some amazing growth through the season,
so the first job was to take her off the wires and establish which main stems to keep. Having sorted the framework it was then a case of cutting all the laterals off the main stem to 2 – 3 buds from the base. These will be the flowering stems in June.
Kudu, not to be left out, seems immune to the thorns.
Finally all that’s required is to tie the main stems back on to the wire and feed with a good handful of Vitax Q4, some well rotted manure and roll on June!
Tomorrow is International Women’s Day and having just watched the film Suffragette on our way back from Japan where we were sourcing roses, I am now thinking that there should be a rose called Suffragette. Suffragette might be a Floribunda, multi headed and symbolising the ability to do more than one thing at a time – or possibly a Hybrid Tea ,standing strong and beautiful on her own. She will have good resistance to disease and pests (particularly the pests…) and won’t droop in the sun or complain about the cold and wet. She would be a vigorous grower, working well in a group and adapting to most habitats as required. Looking good on any budget, she is a great and empathetic hostess and through nature of her habit commands respect . Suffragette is patient and tolerant of beginners and can hold her own in any situation.
The Real Flower Company’s sumptuous International Women’s Day bouquet is bursting with colour and scent – Peony Pink and Princess roses, clematis, freesias, stocks, tulips and more.
We talked about the meaning of Valentine’s day last year, drawing on various versions of who St Valentine was and what he did and although his isn’t the happiest story, he might have enjoyed the thought that nearly 2000 years later, people would still sending roses to each other with love and in his name – what a legacy!