I know that the subject of roses in their hedging and hip form came up in the last newsletter but arguably (and I may be on sticky ground here) every garden should have a rose or two in one of its incarnations. Even for those with a more modernist or Italianate approach to gardening, a little light relief is always necessary and a rose provides just that. As we have mentioned, it is the bareroot season and so you have the opportunity to acquire all sorts of roses that are not available potted year round. Every year more and more varieties are added to the canon. In this section, we want to encourage you to think beyond the climber or rambler to disguise the oil tank or the bare wall, and even beyond patio roses for pots on the terrace, lovely and important as they are, but to focus on roses as cut flowers. A bought bunch of roses is quite an investment, while for the same price you could buy one shrub or hybrid tea rose with the capacity to flower again and again from early June to the end of October. It is really worth setting aside a sunny corner of your garden to act as a cutting flower area. Prettify it with lavender and you will know that beauty and function are coexisting, just as William Morris would have it.
Taste in roses, as with everything, is entirely subjective but for cut flowers there is one key performance indicator and that is vase life. Delightful as rose petals strewn down the table are, for preference they should remain on the flower to be a successful cutting rose. Preparing the rose is important. Cut off any foliage so that none is immersed in the soaking water. Split the stems and aim to change the water every day. Although there is nothing to stop you deploying any of the roses in your garden for vase duty, the following roses are all valuable for their prowess in a vase and for their beautiful flowers and scent.
Ispahan - a highly scented, vibrant pink damask rose.
Paul's Himalayan musk - baby pink, small flowered rambler.
Just Joey - an amber gold, lightly scented hybrid tea.
Tranquillity - a new white shrub rose from David Austin with a delightful apple scent.
Gertrude Jekyll - deep pink, David Austin shrub rose with old fashioned rose scent. RHS AGM.
Graham Thomas - the most famous yellow shrub rose.
Golden Celebrations - another David Austin marvel.
L D Braithwaite - deep red, David Austin shrub rose.
Constance Spry - a climber that does not repeat but produces curving stems of stunning, pink double flowers with a myrrh like scent.
Compassion - another pink climber with more of a hybrid tea style of flower that repeats.
Most of our bare root roses will be available from early November, just before the ground has become really solid with frost so that it is easier to work and perfect for planting. Dig in lots of muck when you plant your roses because they are hungry feeders and by next summer you will never need to stop off in the garage for that slightly dodgy bunch of carnations ever again.....