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Roses the bloom of the moment
It's the last week of May and time for roses to do something very special. The buds are bursting into colour and throughout June they will bloom their socks off. The warm air will be filled with scented delight - a smell evocative of a quintessential summer.
Why do we have such a love affair with roses? They have never lost their charm, despite the changing of fashion and advancement of thinking in terms of garden design. Perhaps it's the amazing versatility of a plant that can measure as little as 8cm high or as tall as 8m+. A shrub that can be used as a groundcover; a bush; a standard or a climber. A beautiful, living gift. A plant that can live in a pot, on a windowsill or clothe the wall of a cathedral as one has been doing at the Cathedral of Hildesheim in Germany for over 1000 years!
Did you know?
- The rose is England's national flower. It became recognised as such during the Wars of the Roses (1455-1485). The Tudor Rose became a symbol of peace merging a white rose with a red rose to represent the Yorkists and the Lancastrians who fought during the war.
- The rose was highly important to Romans and Egyptians in fact Cleopatra was believed to have covered her palace floor with rose petals before inviting Mark Antony to visit.
- Roses are ancient! A rose fossil was found in Colorado which was dated to original from around 35 million years ago.
- Rose hips are generally rich in Vitamin C and they are used in some medicines and food supplements. Hip seed oil is also used in some skin and make-up products.
- Rose hips can be made into jam, jelly and brewed for tea.
- Rose oil is used in some perfumes. But the extraction of oil requires a lot of roses - one gram of oil is produced from 2000 roses!
- We all know that red roses mean 'love' but did you know a yellow rose means friendship?
- Roses like potassium and if you bury pieces of banana skin nearby, they will enjoy the feed!
- Climbing roses provide you with repeat flowering throughout the summer (if you dead-head) but rambling roses flower just once - with masses of blooms.
- The rose is considered to be a 'universal flower' because it has the ability to adapt to so many different climates.
- Roses do require a little maintenance in order to keep them looking beautiful. They can be prone to disease such as black spot and rust - so look for high disease resistant varieties so you won't need to use chemicals.
- If you have a problem with aphids, try hanging bird feeders nearby to encourage birds to feed off your unwanted visitors!
- You should dead-head your bush/shrub roses regularly if you want to enjoy repeat flowering. However, don't dead-head roses that flower only once as these will subsequently form into hips.
- Train climbing and rambling roses in autumn the new stems can be bent and coiled without breaking. The bending of the stems slows down the flow of sap and the rose will then produce more flowering shoots.
- Prune rambling roses by cutting out some of the old stems at the base, then fanning out the branches from ground level in a similar way to training a fruit tree.
- Prune your bush roses in early November (to prevent wind-rock) then again in early spring (March). You don't need to prune too low unless you are after fewer, showy blooms
- Give your roses a lovely rich mulch - they like a fertile soil with lots of organic matter.
- Try not to plant a new rose in ground where an old rose used to grow - soil tends to become 'sick' unless it is changed before replanting.
In just a few days the glorious month of June will commence and there's no better time to walk amongst the flowers! And trees and vegetables! Or sit in a garden chair and survey the garden scene. Whatever you are doing this month just make sure you enjoy the splendour of the season. The fresh leaves are still lush; the soil is smelling moist and hearty - and of course there are flowers galore - including those beautiful roses.