The Teddington Gardener

A million tiny diamonds…

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Geoff Hamilton looking rather marvellous annointed with morning dew – and in not too long, this will very likely be frost.

A few photos including Gertrude Jekyll (the pink) and Winchester Cathedral (the white) – all roses from David Austin – and like Geoff, glistening with dew.

Gertie we have come across before, a headily fragrant shrub rose, or short climber. Winchester Cathedral is a sport (a spontaneous mutation) of a classic David Austin rose, indeed almost the original success story, Mary Rose. To reflect its heritage, there is often a flash of pink in the otherwise pure flower that I find quite charming. The buds are pink, but open to a pure, crystalline white.

Although we are well into September, there are buds aplenty on these plants and I would expect another full flush of flowers before they quieten down for the winter. The odd flower might be offered in later months but really, they should take advantage of a well earned rest and slumber until the Spring. Pruning can be tackled when they are fast asleep, in January/early February in the south, perhaps a little later in colder climes. Young plants (of the David Austin shrub variety) should be lightly treated for the first couple of years – more mature plants can be cut back by a third, or a half, once a strong framework has begun to develop. Strength to hold such large trusses of flowers aloft.

A little good housekeeping to clean off any leaves with a touch of blackspot (as if it dares!) and a mulch of compost/composted manure around the base of the plant later this month/through October, will bury any rogue spores, preventing reinfection as the new leaves emerge next year. There is no need to feed your roses now (even those being grown in containers), but a mulch is a wonderful thing – it suppresses weeds, feeds the soil over the winter, improves soil structure (whether sandy or clay), regulates soil temperature…. There should be a song!

You might trim tall shrubs back if wind-rock is likely, loosening the root-ball which should be firmly anchored in the soil. Ensure the graft – the knobbly ankle between the root and the main stem – is a couple of inches below the soil surface as this will help prevent suckering as well as secure the plant firmly while winter gales pass overhead. Check that the posts for any standards (rose trees) are secure since the heads of these beauties are like sails and we don’t want to see them tacking down the garden path.

A little more than I was going to write, here, now, and the very definition of ‘stream of consciousness’ though I will return to the subject of pruning, particularly of roses, a little later in the year. Hybrid Teas and floribundas need very different treatment and there are climbers and ramblers to tackle, too.

In the meantime, I bid you good evening…

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