Parham’s Assistant Head Gardener Tim Miles explains how to care for your roses this month.
Of all the plants that bloom in June, the rose is perhaps the most evocative. The scented blossoms filling borders and cascading off walls typify the English garden in high summer.
Deadheading is vital to make the best of your rose display. Rose petals tend to hang on after they have finished, and can detract from blossom yet to come. Individual flowers within clusters are easily snipped at the base of their stalk, while whole clusters should be removed just above the first full leaf on the stem.
As with any rose prunings, it is best practice to burn any removed material to limit the spread of disease. If working on multiple roses, give tools a quick clean and spray of disinfectant to limit the spread of any pathogens.
Rose hips are a bonus to some roses, but not all roses produce hips. It is worth researching whether any of your roses do, and if so, you may wish to leave the spent flowers for the hips to develop.
In the case of recurrent roses (those that bloom throughout the year, not just once), it is worth deadheading the first flush of flowers to encourage stronger later flushes, which can then be left to develop hips.
Pests and disease will start to become more apparent on roses from June onward after the plants have exhausted themselves with so much flowering. Aphids like the soft, new growth and flower buds of roses. In many cases, a few minutes of squishing will see off most of them, but if this is too time-consuming a spray with a soap-based insecticide will help.
Black spot, an airborne fungal disease, is inevitable and it is a thankless task to try to stop it altogether. The best way to deal with it is to grow healthy roses. Keep them well-fed, well-watered and practice good hygiene with tools and plant material. Weed out varieties that seem particularly prone to the disease: there are always more roses to try. Sulphur granules and sprays are said to help, and we will experiment with them in the garden at Parham to see if it helps here.
We want to add to the rose collection at Parham and will choose species and cultivars that are suited to the dry, sandy soil here. While many roses prefer rich, clay soils, some are more suited to free draining, light soils. Rosa pimpinellifolia, the burnet rose, is one such rose.
Found in the wild on dunes, beaches and limestone pavements, it is well suited to our soil.
The species itself has small, white flowers in May followed by dark, almost black hips. Cultivars of R. pimpinellifolia introduce fuller flowers in pink and yellow tones, and in the case of Rosa ‘Stanwell Perpetual’, repeat flowering. It grows to around 4ft, flower early, has a good scent and are worthy of a place in any garden.
The Alba roses also do well on dry, poor soils. This is a beautiful tribe of old roses with grey foliage, fantastic scent and flowers of white, cream or soft pink. Sizes vary from the great, arching heights of the double white Rosa ‘Alba Maxima’ which easily attains 6ft-7ft, to the more compact Rosa ‘Félicité Parmentier’ at 4ft, with full blooms of delicate pink.
Rosa virginiana performs admirably on almost any soil. The flowers, which look somewhat like a darker version of our native dog rose (Rosa canina), are not the reason to grow this rose.
Instead, it is the autumn display of plump, carmine hips with burnished copper and red foliage that makes this rose garden-worthy.
It forms a dense suckering mass, grows to around 4-5ft and is generally trouble-free, but is perhaps more suited to the wilder areas of a garden.
Enjoy your roses this month and look after them. Proper care will ensure they flourish year after year.
Words by Tim Miles; photos by Erika Packard