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Planting bare root roses

In my last garden diary blog, I mentioned that we’d ordered some bare root roses. Well, they arrived from David Austin Roses at the beginning of this month …

I prefer to plant bare root roses. They seem to get established much more quickly than potted specimens – and flower in their first year. We selected one example of five varieties, each of which has the characteristics we were looking for, as described in my previous gardening blog. We were aware that we were in for quite a long wait for delivery, but knew that it would be worth it when the plants are in full bloom next year.

The first thing to do was to take them out of the parcel and place them in a bucket of water.

I decided on a ‘W’ formation for the planting scheme for our new rose bed.

The hole for each rose needs to be around sixteen inches deep and sixteen inches wide, to facilitate good drainage and penetration of feed into the soil. Depending on soil conditions, digging such a sizeable hole can be quite arduous, but loosening the soil and ensuring the roots start at an optimum depth will be well worth the effort.

To give the plants an early boost, I add well-rotted farmyard manure around the base of the planting hole.

Light pruning of the roots encourages them to grow more vigorously.

Mycorrhizal fungi are interesting. They develop a symbiotic relationship with many plants; and roses can derive great benefit from them, as the fungi supply them with water and mineral nutrients such as phosphorus. The relationship is good for the fungi too, as they receive organic molecules such as sugars, produced by the plant’s photosynthesis function.

Mycorrhizas are available to gardeners in packets. I scatter the fungus on the roots of the roses and also around the base of the planting hole.

I make a small mound in the middle of the planting hole and arrange the roots around it. Then it’s time to begin filling in the hole and firming the soil to ensure the plant will be in good contact with it.

Once the hole has been filled, I add some more well-rotted manure and give the plant a good watering.

I blanketed the whole bed with quite a lot of bark chippings to provide a mulch to help retain water and also suppress weeds.

At the time of writing, we’re finishing off the rose bed with some low level willow fencing, prior to surrounding it with a single course of brick to separate the bark mulch from decorative gravel in the vegetable patch, which we’re still working on.



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January-June, 2019 garden diary

Once gardening is in your blood, it’s very difficult to root it out. But it’s an addiction that I’m delighted to live with.

We left our Chatteris home for good on April 1st; but as noted previously we’d started work on our new garden in Ramsey well before that time. One unforeseen benefit of the arduous lowering of the bramble hedge at the bottom of the garden – originally intended simply to reveal the quite lovely view of the countryside beyond – has been the profuse flowering of the blackberry bushes.

So … blackberries (or brambles – there seems to be some debate over the correct taxonomy) to look forward to. We had blackberries in our last-but-one garden, and they got a bit out of control. But hopefully it’ll be a fairly straightforward process to give the hedge a haircut once the fruiting season is over.

We were also bequeathed a cherry – Athos. Unusually it’s a bush variety, not a tree, one of a series of three that have recently become available. It’s been sitting in its pot for quite a long time but soon we’ll be able to find a place for it, alongside, perhaps, a blackcurrant or raspberry.

We may plant out the potted strawberry plants we brought with us from our garden in Wimblington; and then our miniature fruit garden will be complete, shaded in part by the three apple trees, which recently executed the ‘June drop’ (see below) of small fruits, which simply helps to ensure that more resources go to the remaining apples.

We uncovered this lovely Mock Orange (Philadelphus) only after breaking away lots of undergrowth and yet more brambles. Its blossoms are a beautiful shade of white, delicate blooms cascading on long, arching, brown (old) or green (new) stems. It’s got very little to do with actual oranges, but coming across it was a very pleasant surprise! The Philadelphus genus is quite complicated and rather exotic. Next step here will be to remove more of the surrounding jungle and open it out to give the shrub more air.

Early May saw the sudden appearance of pink Clematis Montana flowers amongst the tangle of holly and ivy alongside the garden path by the front door – an unexpected but welcome arrival.

As yet unidentified is a tree hidden away amongst more holly, near the summerhouse. It has small, cherry-like fruit or berries. One to investigate further.

One more startling discovery was the number of roses which have appeared on what was a very leggy rambler next to the conservatory, which I cut back last autumn. It’s produced literally hundreds of buds which are now breaking into a riot of mid-pink flowers – a quite spectacular floribunda, though I’ve no idea what variety it is!

But we do know the names of five bush roses which we’ve ordered from David Austin Roses for planting out in November. This is very exciting. We’ve ordered bare root roses to go into a small rose bed which we’re creating. We’ve been removing all trace of weeds from the bed – well, as much as possible, though there are still some thick ivy roots to be dug up. It really doesn’t look very attractive at the moment …

… but with a little help from these five different shrub rose varieties – Gertrude Jekyll, Queen of Sweden, Emily Bronte, Eustacia Vye and Gabriel Oak – a transformation will take place by next Spring.

We selected these varieties with various considerations in mind – size, disease resistance and strength of fragrance being amongst the most important, along with colour, of course. Planting bare root roses, as opposed to pot-raised specimens, ensures the plants focus early growth into developing a strong root system, rather than putting too much energy into leaves and flowers.

In the courtyard, the flowering of fuschias, lobelia and petunias is in full swing in hanging baskets and containers.

We’ve added some new borders and put annuals in as a temporary measure. We’ve used turves dug up to create the borders to construct a foundation for a small rockery. At the moment it’s also doubling as a grass heap, but in time we’ll add topsoil and grit, along with selected rocks to provide us with a suitable display area for alpines.

With hedgehogs and crawling insects in mind, we’ve also been building a log pile.

But the biggest projects for the remainder of the summer and into the winter will be clearing the ground at the back of the rose bed to create space for raised vegetable beds and (in the corner of the garden) a greenhouse. One of the biggest obstacles in the way of a greenhouse is the large elder tree that came crashing down last winter.

However, our shredder is on standby and our new chainsaw is cocked and ready. We have the technology …

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