On 3rd October we were priveledged once again to welcome back Ann Bird an international leading expert on roses.  We were especially pleased to see Ann as it had been her first talk in about 5 months following the administration of the famous rose gardens at St Albans that had been such a huge part of her life.  The Royal National Rose Society, of which she had been president,  was formed there in 1876 and had thousands of various roses within its 5 acres.

Ann’s top tips:

Always purchase strong healthy plants with 3 main stems.  Roses need lots of manure and Ann suggests light soil should ideally have cow manure spread on in the Autumn.  Heavy soil should have horse manure spread on in the Spring.  All roses need plenty of water, especially newly planted ones.  Soil steralizer is recommended to avoid the need to replace old soil. After 6 to 8 weeks it will be ready to plant.  Ann tends to sprinkle root growth on wet roots to assist with the initial growing process.

Pruning Roses by Ann Bird

A balanced feed such as blood fish and bone and a handful of sulphate of potash round each plant is recommended,  together with a good mulching of well rotted compost.

Especially positive in helping to maintain plant health is the Maxicrop seaweed collection.

  1. Complete Garden Feed
  2. Plant Growth Stimulant
  3. Sequestered Iron.  (to prevent yellow foliage).

To protect against mildew, black spot, greenfly rust etc Ann finds “Rose Ultra Clear” and “Bayer’s Fungus Fighter” to be well worth holding in the armoury.   The majority of these additives are available at the Garden Club trading store.

Now we have the basic knowledge and solutions to help to keep our roses healthy Ann went on to discuss pruning.

New plants should be cut down to 6 inches whilst mature ones should be left at about 18 inches.  A good rule of thumb is to take out any stems thinner than a pencil as they will never have flowers that open.   Remove any stems that cross in the middle as these will only encourage disease such as rust which is fatal to a rose.  Prune above an eye and cut at a slant.

The general thought is to prune modern roses in Spring and old garden varieties and ramblers in October,  prune older bush roses in November.  The addition of a handful of bonemeal to each plant at pruning is advisable.  It was also useful to learn that rambling roses need to be trained horizontally otherwise they grow tall and only tend to have one bloom on the top.  Horizontally they will have multiple flowers.  Ann told us perhaps her favourite climbing rose is “Compassion” a beautiful pale orange shade and very disease resistent.

Ann completed her excellent presentation with a few slides to help explain further various pruning methods.  A large climber or bush rose can in fact be pegged down provided you have enough space.  This is indeed a different way of growing a rose.

Thank you  to Ann once again for her time and infectious enthusiasm for these wonderful plants.  I’m sure we’ve all learned something new and can apply the knowledge to give even greater care to our much loved roses.