Oh to be able to stop and smell the roses – and not need to plant and care for them as well!
But in all seriousness, and despite the care required, I’m sure we can all agree that the beauty and fragrance they add to your garden is worth all the effort!
We love using roses in design, so here are our tips on how to buy, prune and use roses in Perth.
A short history of the iconic rose
Roses have been the symbol of love and passion since being tied to Aphrodite and Venus, the goddess of love in early Roman and Greek times, and have been cultivated in Southern Europe, China and Iran for thousands of years.
Then in the 1800’s, roses began to be hybridised and our ‘modern rose’ started it’s development from what we now call ‘heritage’ or ‘old fashioned’ roses, many of which were large plants only flowering during spring. In the twentieth century gardens and properties became smaller, so the new hybrid teas and floribundas became very popular due to their smaller size and repeat flowering. They also mutated and gave us the bright red, scarlet and orange colours heritage roses couldn’t.
Thanks to England beginning a new group of cultivars in the 1960’s, the David Austin – or English – roses were bred. These have the appearance of the heritage rose combined with some floribundas, and are a smaller size with repeat flowering. This brought about the change in how roses were used within a garden design.
Roses in design
Nowadays, roses are used creatively in garden designs, and often in mixed beds with edging and under planting to retain an attractive look even while dormant. But early in the 20th century, roses were used more formally and almost exclusively planted in rows or patterns in geometric garden beds. This made maintenance like pruning and watering much easier, but didn’t allow for much creativity or layering of plants for added texture and shape within the landscape and design.
Blending roses with a variety of complementary plants ensures that there is always something to see even if the roses aren’t flowering. However, formal beds can still be an attractive part of your design when planned properly.
Climbing roses are also a beautiful addition to a garden design and can be grown over an arch or pergola to save space in smaller gardens or to create a feature, or used as a striking groundcover.
Miniature roses are smaller in size and often of a hybrid tea-shape, and grow as small bushes so they can be used in containers as well as for edging borders etc. These have a large variety of colours but aren’t often perfumed.
Buying roses in Perth
There are hundreds of roses available to us in Perth, and you can find an excellent catalogue of roses here from the Melville Nursery in the Hills.
Be cautious when buying cheap roses as they are often grafted onto rootstocks which will not survive in Perth – make sure you buy cultivars which have been budded onto Rosa fortuneana rootstock. The most common ‘cheap’ rootstock is called ‘Dr Huey’ which is usually brought in from South Australia.
How to tell them apart
‘Dr Huey’ – large leaflets with a slightly purplish colour and grows purple-red flowers in the second year if allowed to take over from root stock suckers.
Rosa fortuneana – rose with light green, small leaflets growing on long shoots which are easily distinguishable from the cultivar. It has small white-quartered heritage roses after the second year if allowed to take over. This rootstock is resistant to drought and nematodes – perfect for sunny Perth!
The best time for winter pruning in Perth is late June through to mid August. If you haven’t pruned before, it can seem excessive and harsh to prune so much back, but it helps the roses produce new growth and they love it! They also need all that older-unproductive and diseased wood removed to stay healthy, so get those secateurs out and get pruning.
Hybrid tea roses, English roses, floribunda and miniature, shrub and rambling roses need to be cut back to half their original height, then tidied up to remove any diseased older wood, crossing branches or branches which might be growing into the centre of the bush. You can also remove the remaining foliage and any leaf litter around the bushes, then spray (in winter) with lime sulphur to help control mites, aphids and fungal spores
Standard Roses (roses grown on a tall stem) can be pruned the same way a normal bush rose would be – just don’t prune below the graft/crown or you will ruin your standard.
Climbing Roses are made up of several main framework branches, and secondary branches which grow off the framework.
Tip: prune the main branches to contain the spread and cut back the secondary branches by around a third to one half of their length, and thin so they are well spaced. For growing climbers on a fence or wall you can tie the branches out into a fan shape once trimmed.
So there you have it, pruning isn’t so complicated!
It’s good for the roses and some pruning is better than none at all, so keep at it – they will love you for it!
Roses add colour, romance, and fragrance to your garden and can look wonderful as part of your design – nothing says English tea garden like an English rose – so they are brilliant for accenting a themed design.
If you want stopping and smelling the roses to be the only way you need to interact with them – enlist the help of our expert gardeners.
We can design, install and maintain your stunning rose garden, so you can simply sit back and enjoy – call now to get started!