The Rose Garden at Kew today – I was expecting a delicious crop of hips amongst otherwise bedraggled roses, in the garden behind the Palm House at Kew Gardens this afternoon.
I called in more to capture some of the arboreal autumnal fireworks from the likes of the Sweet Gum, Liquidamber styraciflua, the gorgeous Cotinus obovatus by the Victoria Gate, the witch hazels in the Mediterranean Garden – the buttery fall of leaves from the grove of Gingko, and of course the cherries. I didn’t expect there to be roses in abundance, still, in the Rose Garden.
This is a great collection of roses from David Austin, plus a few species roses, Hybrid Musks and some Old Fashioned roses too. Now, I would not be alone in thinking that the maintenance of these roses is often a bit of a hit and miss affair. Deadheading in the height of summer is a rarity, so the whole garden can look unloved and untidy.
Today, all was fresh, clean and there was quite an abundance of flowers – testament to the late warmth of the Indian Summer we have been enjoying – plus a little TLC from the Kew crew which is much appreciated.
As an almost unbroken rule, the roses from David Austin flower in regular flushes throughout the season, tailing off as the light levels fall and the season cools. Regular readers will know that I have picked roses for my Christmas table decorations and later even, into January. I have not seen such a variety of roses in flower this late in recent years – and bearing in mind we had an early Spring and many of these plants will have been in flower since May. Six months of flower is a great achievement for any plant – in fact I can’t think of anything else that gives quite so much, so generously. The colour – and particulalry the scent, even after rain – of these roses today was especially welcome.
It is always a useful pursuit, whatever the time of year, to see these roses actually growing, to assess their height and habit, the size of the flowers, how they are held (Queen of Sweden holds her flowers quite upright, Jubilee Celebration tends to hand her head – Alan Titchmarsh has a very droopy flower indeed!). And I’ll mention fragrance again too, there is such a variety balancing Old Rose, fruit, musk, myrrh and Tea to be appreciated.
With the David Austin crop, there are other factors to consider. A good couple of dozen from the camp can be treated either as shrubs or as climbers (depending on the pruning regime). Seek out their Fragrant English Climbers for this accommodating habit.
All of the roses in this garden are treated as shrubs and are pruned accordingly. Other factors will affect vigour and eventual plant size – warmer climates breed larger plants. Munstead Wood is a comfortably short 3′ here in the UK but in Provence, it might double – treble – in size.
How closely they are planted – and how rich the soil and the feeding regime – will also have an impact. So it is good to see real examples of the roses you might consider for your garden – and mature examples at that – and there is a good capsule collection here at Kew. Head over to the RHS gardens at Wisley for a greater selection, in two separate rose gardens. A little further and the new rose garden in The Savill Garden (part of Windsor Great Park) will give you more food for thought.
Autumn planting of roses –
Now is the perfect time to be planting new roses – they can get on with the business of rooting into the ground, anchoring themselves and seeking out the food reserves that will feed them throughout the coming year. Without the obligation of maintaining a leafy canopy and producing crop after crop of flowers for our delight and delectation, autumn planted roses can concentrate on what is going on underground and get a head start on their Spring counterparts.
First of the new season roses
Wednesday, 12th November 2014 02:57pm by Resident Rose Expert – Martin Ogden
Arriving tomorrow, ready for the weekend…
We’re very excited as our new season roses arrive this week – the biggest collection of David Austin Roses we have everstocked – roses ready for planting now and over the coming weeks.
The ground is still warm after the glorious Indian summer and these new roses will have plenty of time to put out fresh roots, anchoring themselves into the earth, and making subterranean preparations for a summer full of flower next year.
‘Falstaff – Deep Red’ ‘The Wedgwood Rose – Cool Pink’
We have the select crop of new names from David Austin – just three in 2014 – introduced at Chelsea this summer: the free-flowering and beautifully pink, Olivia Rose Austin, the fragrant yellow ‘The Poet’s Wife’ and the vigorous, repeat-flowering rambler ‘The Lady of the Lake’. Perfect as gifts for the gardener who has everything except the very latest, most healthy and floriferous introductions from Gold Medal winner, David Austin Roses.
‘The Lady of the Lake’ ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’
Within this new collection you will also find all our favourite David Austin Shrub Roses, including their most fragrant creations, saturated with Old Rose scent, Myrrh, Fruit, Tea and Musk. The superlative Old Rose of Gertrude Jekyll, the luminescent and fruity Lady Emma Hamilton, deep-plum and blackberry Munstead Wood, Scepter’d Isle with hints of Sweet Cicely. Roses with the scent of citrus and lychees, aniseed, elderflower and pear, meadowsweet and vanilla, honey and almond blossom.
We have ordered a collection of White Shrub Roses: Tranquility, Winchester Cathedral, Susan Williams-Ellis, Claire Austin, Lichfield Angel, Wollerton Old Hall (with such an attractive aniseed scent) and Kew Gardens. Each one a perfect candidate for a romantic (or cool and sophisticated) White Garden. (We have a workshop planned for next year ‘Creating a White Garden’ May 22nd 2015 to inspire you more!). Other Shrub and Climbing Roses in this collection include Glamis Castle, Creme de la Creme, Snowgoose, Wedding Day and Iceberg.
‘Winchester Cathedral’ ‘Tranquility’ ‘Lichfield Angel’ ‘Kew Gardens’
In contrast to the whites and creams arriving, colours also range from blood-red to purples and pinks of every hue, burnt orange and tangerine, golden yellow and primrose – and a whole range of flower forms – huge, glamorous paeonies, formal doubles, semi-double, goblets and chalices, ruffles, and informal clusters, deep, full, fat or flat, else simple, single blooms.
Not forgetting – enroute to Petersham Nurseries this week an excellent selection of Fragrant English Climbers from David Austin – tough, healthy and reliable – these roses will flower regularly throughout the season. So too will their remarkable repeat-flowering counterparts – the Ramblers, that equally have a wide range of colour, scent and flower form. In stock we will have the best of the traditional named roses, for climbing and scrambling into trees, covering walls and fences, adorning obelisks and pergolas – refined, smaller varieties as well as some of the Big Names. Roses too for more difficult situations – poorer soils, shadier spots for example, that will still shine and flower well.
‘David Austin at Hampton Court’ ‘Roses at Mottisfont Abbey’ ‘More exuberance from Mottisfont ‘
Finally the Standard Roses we already have in stock – perfect punctuation marks in any garden border and ideal for containers – and as rare as hen’s teeth, very very limited stock at any time of year, so we are pleased to have about a dozen for sale.
Fill your garden – and your home – with roses next season and plant these remarkable new arrivals now. Expert advice on which varieties to choose and on garden care, planting, feeding, pruning and regular maintenance is available from one of our Horticultural Team – and we have a number of workshops set for the coming year where the sole focus is the Rose in all her glory!
‘Jude the Obscure against pink of Gertrude Jekyll & yellow of The Pilgrim’
About Martin Ogden
Resident rose expert, Martin Ogden, hosts instructive workshops and talks throughout the year sharing our love for old fashioned roses. You are invited to journey through an exploration of the different types and varieties, the beautiful forms and wonderful fragrances of old roses, picking up expert planting tips and tricks, including advice on how pruning is the key element to maintaining healthy plants. Martin has joined us from Syon Park Garden Centre, and brings with him a wealth of gardening knowledge and experience as a garden designer and plants man.
Next workshop: ROSE PLANTING, CARE & PRUNING, Tues 24th Feb 2015 10:30am – 12:00pm
From Hansard, a little Historical Banter….
ROSE BLIGHT AT KEW GARDENS
§ 2.35 p.m.
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty’s Government why the rose blooms at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, have been blighted this summer.]
THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FOOD (LORD ST. OSWALD)
My Lords, the damage was caused by a selective weed killer applied to the grass between the rose beds. Shortly after the weed killer was applied on April 18, light rain fell followed by a spell of heavy, quiet weather which unexpectedly caused the weed killer to vaporise in sufficient concentration to damage the young growth on the rose bushes.
LORD ST. OSWALD
My Lords, the weed killer used contained 2,4-D, a growth regulator, not insecticidal, and it does not represent a hazard to human health if correctly used.
May I ask the noble Lord whether it was correctly used in this case, and what would happen to children playing on the grass where this substance was deposited?
LORD ST. OSWALD
It was used completely correctly. It was applied with a highly efficient instrument which does not allow spray, and was used entirely as 880 recommended by my Department. The whole matter is still being investigated and discussed with the manufacturers. I could describe at great length to the noble Lord exactly how unusual were the circumstances which produced these conditions. We are quite certain it must be very rare indeed.
My Lords, how can the noble Lord be so certain that there will not be frequent occasions of light rain followed by a spell of calm, heavy weather? If, in fact, this material is being correctly used, does it not suggest that the use which is specified as being safe is not safe?
LORD ST. OSWALD
My Lords, in answer to one of the noble Lord’s questions, this particular weed killer has been in use in this country for nine years. This is the first case of this kind that we know to have occurred. It was not merely weather conditions which were responsible, but weather conditions combined with the layout of the gardens and the state of growth of the rose trees at that particular time.
My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that damage to private gardens is increasing throughout the rural areas of the country owing to the indiscriminate spraying of crops and the negligent manner in which contractors employed by the gardeners are putting on this material? I speak with a vested interest. I have had some very fine prize rose trees ruined, so this is not an exceptional case. The contractor comes with these huge pumps and sprays, irrespective of the weather, and the vapour from them can travel two or three hundred yards. Will the noble Lord ask his right honourable friend the Minister if he will look into the matter to see whether some regulation cannot be made to prohibit the use of these sprays when the fields are adjacent to private houses and private gardens?
LORD ST. OSWALD
I am in the advantageous position that the noble Lord described this incident to me with some poignancy the other day. I have therefore had myself advised on what his recourse was. If, as I understood in private conversation with him, there were witnesses to the effect that the spraying being done in his neighbour’s field was carried on to his garden, he has recourse to Common Law.
My Lords, I can assure the noble Lord that I did not need to ask a Parliamentary question to learn that. I want to know whether the Minister will do something to prevent my having to employ an army of lawyers to prevent something that should never occur.
LORD ST. OSWALD
I am sure that the noble Lord does not want me to go into the whole subject of a debate which we had some months ago, but in that debate I stressed the usefulness of these sprays to agriculture. To say that no sprays could ever be used in the neighbourhood of anybody’s garden would be going beyond what we think is right. What we do say is that they must be properly used, and it seems to me that on this occasion the spray in the field of the noble Lord’s neighbour was not being used either properly or considerately.
My Lords, in view of the lethal effect of this particular weed killer, has the noble Lord assured himself that its distributors have been told they should warn those engaged in producing vegetables that, if not used carefully, it has this particular toxic effect?
LORD ST. OSWALD
The noble Baroness is much more professionally aware than I of the meaning of the word “lethal”. I am bound to say that this was not lethal even to the young roses, because it spoilt the first growth but the second growth which is now emerging appears to be unaffected.
My Lords, would the noble Lord say whether this operation has resulted in the blighting of anything else or anybody else?
LORD ST. OSWALD
No, my Lords, nothing more sensitive than young rose buds. I like to think that the Liberal Party is immune.
My Lords, in order that these sprays may be used even more correctly than they appear to have been used in the past, would the noble Lord now add a note to his booklet on the safe use of chemicals in the garden, saying that these are not to be used before light rain and a spell of heavy calm weather, and also provide a weather forecast?
LORD ST. OSWALD
My Lords, I have said that this matter is under discussion with the manufacturers. Anything that emerges from these discussions will of course be applied to similar herbicides.
My Lords, will the noble Lord also look into the possibility, of which there seems to be evidence, that this particular substance may cause leukæmia in human beings?
LORD ST. OSWALD
My Lords, I did not even catch the esoteric phrase which the noble Lord used. I am afraid I am certainly not qualified to answer him without notice.