3 June 2014 - 12:19pm

Roses rule in June

The June garden speaks to me in roses. I know some are out earlier in the year, but walking through the sight and smell of their gorgeous blooms gladdens my poor old gardeners’ heart right now. Talking of earlies, if you passed our front gate late April/early May you will have seen a single, yellow flowering rose covering our front gate. That is R. ‘Canary Bird’. It is really easy shrub rose so not fussy about pruning, with lovely ferny leaves. Apart from the odd smattering of flowers later on it tends to only flower once but it is a really good show when it does. R. Glauca flowers mid spring; good for more natural settings as it is a small, species rose with small pink flowers. We have it as underplanting in an area shaded by silver birches. It copes well and has big, showy hips later on. My new favourite rose is ‘Biddulph Grange’. Peter and I visited that National Trust property famous for its dahlias a few years ago on our wedding anniversary. It is shrub rose with bright red single flowers with white centres and yellow stamens. A repeat flowerer and stays really healthy all year, it is real star all summer and mixes well with other plants unlike some of the more showy hybrid tea roses. I’ve written about R. ‘Laura Ford’ (pictured) several times here and it remains a favourite. It is a short climber, to about 3 or 4 metres with small but beautiful double yellow flowers that age a bit pink. The old fashioned tea scent is wonderful and it repeat flowers if, like most roses, you give it a regular feed. I give it a good drink every now and then as well as it’s planted close to a wall where it gets very dry, even when it’s been raining. Roses hate poor, dry soil. Having said that we have R. ‘Mme. Alfred Carriere’ growing out of a small hole in our patio climbing valiantly up the back of the house. It’s in a fairly grim, windy spot so if you want a rose that will put up with poorer conditions, this is the one. She has beautiful, creamy white double flowers,a Noisette if you care about such things! To be kind I water and feed it a bit, but not reliably, and it doesn’t seem to mind too much if I forget. It used to be the fashion to have roses planted out in a bed to themselves, and you still do sometimes see it. It can look wonderful and the perfume fabulous. I try and mix them at Charnwood, mainly because I want a succession of flowers. You can plant other things round them that either complement their flowers and bloom at the same time, or come out after so the colour carries on when they are over. A classic planting combination is to underplant your roses with hardy geraniums. Pick a scrambler rather than an upright variety so the rather boring stems are covered up. You can cut the geraniums hard back in the autumn or spring and distribute a good feed and a prune depending on the rose. I have also seen violets, violas and primroses planted in rose gardens for early ground cover, with wigwams of sweet peas or clematis among them to carry on later into the summer. I have good combination of a red climbing rose and a purple clematis, varieties long forgotten I’m afraid. As long as the rose is well established before you inflict a climbing partner on it and you keep them both well fed and watered, you will get a lovely effect. Old trees can be brightened up by a climber or a rambler; rose that is, not the human variety. Take some time out to enjoy your garden in this (hopefully) lovely month!