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Roald Dahl Ausowlish Rose bush in full flower

Roses – flowers of the month | A Care Guide

Rose care in June

The flower of the month

Olivia Rose Austin, roses in full flower

Olivia Rose Austin

Roses take centre stage in June; they are even the birth month flower. We have an enormous selection of beautifully flowering roses in our garden centre.

June is the prime time to sort out your roses to ensure your rose display looks tip top this summer!

A Care Guide

Here are a few crucial steps to take towards healthy and flourishing roses;

  • Watch out for black spot if you see that your roses have black spots then prune out the affected areas and be sure to burn them rather than putting them into the compost. However, be warned that this may not solve the problem, as it the fungi can be spread by the wind etc. If the black spot is persistent then you may need a fungicide. Ask in store for the best way to use these.

Black spot is; a fungal disease that infects the leaves of rose plants. It can be identified by signature ‘black spots’ on the leaves. Sadly black spot is more prevalent in areas with good air quality so it is one of the downsides of growing roses in Devon.

  • Look out for aphids. The solution for these pests depends on the size of the population. If it seems to be a small population then simply squishing the aphids will suffice. However if you appear to have a lot then you will need to spray. Be cautious not to spray onto the flowers and always read directions on the back of the packet. An alternative is to wash aphids of the plant with a soapy water solution.
  • Dead head rose plants with large or clustered flowers that have finished flowering and will flower again. This is great as it encourages a second growth of flowers in July and August. The best way to deadhead roses is to pinch the head off just below the flower, this speeds up re-growth of flowers! – Don’t deadhead roses if you want to have their fruits – otherwise known as ‘hips’. This also applies to roses with only one flush of roses; there is no need to deadhead them as the hips will be attractive in your garden in winter.
  • Get rid of gallicas or any other suckers. To do this, simply snip the sucker shoot off at the main stem.
  • Feed roses with potassium rich foods such as tomato feed- we recommend Tomorite. Another great idea is using banana skins- simply lay them around the plant and cover with soil.
  • Try under planting your roses to hide bare stems and create an attractive backdrop. A really great plant to use is lavender to add an aromatic and colourful element.
  • – Consider adding in a new growth of climbers or ramblers side on to promote more flowering on side shoots.
  • Water your roses regularly. As long as you have well draining soil then there is a minimal risk of overwatering.
  • Wash down roses at least a couple of times a week to avoid spider mites.

Visit our garden centre for all your roses, rose feed and treatments.

Saving rare roses

One of our delightful (and famous) customers, Orlando Murrin, has recently written an article for The Daily Telegraph about the rose that nearly vanished. This was also covered in our local Express and Echo and details how St Bridget Nurseries is saving rare roses namely Mrs Miniver and Judy Garland. Below are some of Orlando’s words from his article along with further details of our rose production technique.

Orlando Murrin tends to 'Mrs Miniver' on his Exeter rooftop
Orlando Murrin tends to ‘Mrs Miniver’ on his Exeter rooftop CREDIT: ANDREW CROWLEY FOR THE TELEGRAPH

It is exactly 75 years since MGM released Mrs Miniver, a tale of stiff upper lips accompanied by the wail of air raid sirens. The film’s most famous moment is when Greer Garson (in the title role) disarms a German airman she finds hiding in her garden and slaps him in the face. In another scene – echoed in the first series of Downton Abbey – the local stationmaster wins a prize at the annual flower show, for a rose named after the village heroine.

Mrs Miniver was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic, and took six Academy Awards in 1943. That same year, American rose grower Jackson & Perkins jumped on the bandwagon with the introduction of a hybrid tea rose called ‘Mrs Miniver’. The plant had been bred in south-eastern France by César Chambard. Flowers were scarlet with darker reverse, large and strongly fragrant. They appeared in flushes through the season, opening from long, slender buds.

After being dazzled by seeing A Star Is Born for the first time, Orlando learnt there was a rose named after Judy Garland, and set his heart on growing it. Although the plant was bred in the UK by Harkness Roses, it is now only available in the United States. Four summers later, two plants are now in bloom on his front balcony, their prodigious red-and-gold bicolour blossoms the talk of the street. But Orlando could not find the Mrs Miniver rose.

The 'Judy Garland' rose

Orlando writes: It did not appear in any catalogue – it had been dropped by Jackson and Perkins decades ago, and the French breeders were long defunct. Perhaps an English cottage gardener in a rural backwater had kept a specimen pruned and tended? I set myself the challenge of tracking her down. In early 2014 I enlisted the help of Becky Hook of La Roseraie du Désert, a nursery in south-west France specialising in old roses, who is regarded by many as the Sherlock Holmes of the rose world. (She it was who guided me through the cumbersome process of importing ‘Judy Garland’.)

“Becky finally traced the plant to a collection in what used to be East Germany.  Although the Europa-Rosarium at Sangerhausen holds an astonishing 8,300 varieties, sadly ‘Mrs Miniver’ was no longer among them. I spoke to the rosarium’s director, Thomas Hawel, who located one last surviving plant in a private garden in another part of Germany.”

Another amateur rose grower in Germany succesfully propagated a couple of rose plants to send to Orlando and these have been growing in pots on his roof top garden.

First flower and buds on 'Mrs Miniver'
First flower and buds on ‘Mrs Miniver’ CREDIT: ANDREW CROWLEY FOR THE TELEGRAPH

St Bridget Nurseries to the Rescue

At St Bridget Nurseries, we will from time to time propagate plants for our customers if we have the resources. We have propagated many trees and roses over the years in such away. Most recently we propagated a rose for a lady. Her late grandfather had been a rose breeder and had bred a blue rose that was never named and only existed in the family home. She realised if that rose died her grandfather’s work would be lost and so we have produced several her to give to each of the surviving relatives.

Mr Murrin first contacted us to propagate a batch of ‘Judy Garland’ roses some two years ago now. We talked Mr Murrin through the process which is as follows:

Rose Production for private clients

  1. We need to know how many roses you would like to end up by autumn, this is when we order our rose “rootstocks”. We will then order in rootstocks to cover this amount and allow for a few extra.
  2. We receive the rootstocks in winter and plant them in an open ground field in January. They are then left to grow until the summer.
  3. In July we then contact the client and ask for the “budwood”. This is a foot long shoot which is not too young (not floppy) and not old (hard).  We will ask for several stems like this to be provided as quickly as possible after cutting, wrapped in damp newspaper.
  4. The budwood is given to our open ground team who will prepare the wood by hand. They trim off the leaves, chop off the flower and trip off all the thorns.
  5. We then pull back the tops of the rootstocks growing in the open field to expose the soil ridge and the base of the rootstock plant. Holding the budding knife firmly, the budder rolls the blade horizontally around one side of the stock.
  6. With the finger acting as a guide running along the side of the stock, the knife is run vertically up to the horizontal cut, thus forming a “T”. The knife is then gently moved side to side to slightly open the top of the “T”.
  7. The budder then takes the budwood and cuts into the stick just below a bud (a leaf/stem bud) on the prepared budwood. Once the knife has cut beneath and beyond the bud the knife is pulled upwards to produce a tail.
  8. The bud is then inserted into the “T” shaped slot on the rootstock. The knife is then used to cut off the tail at the “T” to form a neat “T” with the bud inserted.
  9. A special rubber tie is used to keep the bud in place. This completes the budding operation.
  10. The following February/March the rootstocks are trimmed back to the budder’s “T”. The bud starts growing in April and is trimmed to a single shoot, as necessary, in May. From mid-June to late July, budwood is collected off of the crop for use with the next crop of roses.
  11. In October we start to lift the roses from the field. They are then either sold bare rooted or containerised in our garden centres.
  12. The whole process takes two years and we only charge £10-£16 a rose!

What’s next for Judy Garland and Mrs Miniver?

This autumn we will be able to provide Mr Murrin with his Judy Garland roses and if we have a few spare we will be able to sell them on a first come first served basis with his permission. The aim is to take more budwood this year and keep a ready supply if they prove popular.

A few weeks ago, Mr Murrin provided us with the Mrs Miniver budwood. Fingers crossed the buds take and providing they do, they will be ready for fans in Autumn 2018.

To join the waiting list for either of these roses, please email office@stbridgetnurseries.co.uk with your details.

Want to find out more?

To read Mr Murrin’s full article, please click here.

The Flower Garden in June

June is a wonderful time for enjoying the beauty of our gardens, with flowers blooming brightly but the mixture of rain and sunshine makes everything flourish at once and quite easily the garden can become a jungle. Here’s a few considerations for the flower garden in June:

  1. Thin direct sowings of hardy annuals (plants that only last a year).
  2. Remove blanket weed from ponds by twisting it around a stick (like candy floss). Leave the weed at the side of the pond so it allows any wildlife to crawl back into the pond.
  3. Keep your flowering tubs and hanging baskets watered. Remember that strong winds can be just as drying as hot sunshine.
  4. Protect delphiniums, lilies and hosts from slugs and snails. There are many slug controls that we sell: traditional pellets, organic pellets, slug wool (a natural deterrent), nematodes (natural deterrent) plus gels and other products.
  5. Take softwood cuttings of deciduous (plants that lose their leaves) shrubs like Caryopteris, Spiraea and Buddleja.
  6. Add lawn clippings to your composter in small amounts, mix with drier material to avoid a soggy mess.
  7. Liquid feed your containerised plants. You can buy ready mixed feed or concentrate for you to mix in a watering can. Always read the label.
  8. Divide bearded irises after flowering. Replant sections that have at least two fans of leaves attached.
  9. Stake tall plants like Delphiniums and larger lilies.
  10. Trim topiary like Buxus (box).
  11. Sow winter flowering pansies and ornamental cabbages.
  12. Tie in shoots of climbing and rambling roses as horizontally as possible to encourage better flowering.

For further advice, our garden centre staff are always pleased to help.

We have some Wonderful New Rose Varieties available now in our garden centres that were showcased for the first time at our July Nursery Rose Tours. As a member of the British Rose Growers Association, we are proud to say all our roses are grown by us, in Exeter, Devon, England! We propagate each rose by hand using the process known as grafting and ‘T budding’. Each rose started the process some 22 months ago when we planted the rootstocks. For the new varieties detailed below we have to buy in ‘bud wood’ from rose breeders (such as David Austin) and this provides us with the leaf buds we need to graft onto our rootstocks. I won’t detail the full process here (save it for another blog one day) but all you need to know is – what Wonderful New Rose Varieties have we got for sale this year? Here is your answer:

For hybrid teas (roses with shapely blooms perfect for cutting) we have four wonderful new varieties:

Loving Mum (SMI36/1/02) Scalloped edged, lightly scented blooms in vibrant orange.

Pink Perfection (Korcoluma) Double bright pink blooms with a deeper centre. Strong perfume.

Sunny Sky (Koraruli) Voted Rose of the Year 2016 this is a prolific producer of of honey yellow flowers on long stems. Fruity fragrance.

Whiter Shade of Pale (Peafanfare) Pale Pink repeat blooms, excellent disease resistance and wonderfully fragrant.

For floribundas (large clusters of flowers) we have

Friend’s Forever (Korapriber) Has an abundance of fragrant large double flowers opening to pure pink. Compact habit.

In the David Austin / English rose section we have two lovely new varieties, namely:

Princess Anne (Auskitchen) Pink rosettes fading to lilac tones, medium fragrance and good disease resistance.

The Generous Gardener (Ausdrawn) Very soft pink, water-lily like blooms. Strong old rose/myrrh fragrance.

Finally within the climbing and rambling section we have:

Ali Baba (Chewalibaba) Flowers in hues of red, peach, orange and salmon with a passion fruit fragrance.

Gardener’s Glory (Chewability) Golden yellow flowers, with strong sweet fragrance. Good disease resistance.

There is still time to order any of the above varieties as bare root specimens (best for planting in the winter and cheaper) or they are availble in our garden centres as containerised plants. To order please e-mail sales@stbridgetnurseries.co.uk or call 01392 876281

All the photographs below are copyright of St Bridget Nurseries. 

March – care of roses

We’re always being asked how to make the most of roses and how to look after them. Many people think roses are tricky, but they’re not really and indeed many people don’t do anything with their roses but to get the best from your plants a little pruning is advisable.

  Silver Anniversary with bud

The most popular types – bush, hybrid teas and floribundas and the climbers – will benefit from pruning during early March. When pruning any rose start by cutting out dead, diseased, damaged, rubbing or crossing stems.   For the bush Hybrid Teas and floribundas prune back the remaining stems by about half to two-thirds.   Generally speaking the thinner the stem the harder it should be pruned. Climbing roses produce their flowers on sideshoots formed from a permanent framework of branches.  So after cutting out dead and dying shoots, prune back these sideshoots by about two-thirds. Old fashioned shrub roses and ground cover roses require very little pruning. Simply remove the dead, diseased and dying stems and then trim to shape. After pruning feed with a granular rose fertiliser to ensure a mass of perfect blooms, then mulch the soil with composted bark or well-rotted manure and to be on the safe side spray with an insecticide and/or fungicide to protect against any possible future problems.