Many gardeners are deterred from growingbecause their seems to be a bewildering task surrounded by a great deal of mystique. Although not nearly as daunting a job as it might at first appear, the pruning of roses such as the floribundas and hybrid teas does require a fair amount of time and care, both in finding out the correct pruning method for the types and varieties of rose being grown, and in the actual pruning itself.
This is all very well if you insist on growing types such as the hybrid teas and if your aim is to produce perfect individual blooms. However, if you want to cut down on routine work choose the oldor their modern equivalents; With these, as in most other hardy shrubs, pruning consists merely of cutting out dead or diseased wood, or any shoots that are crossing or growing into the centre of the bush. Prune in March or early April; do not prune during a hard frost.
These labour-saving tactics will give you a riot of bloom with plentiful supplies for cutting, rather than a dozenof more perfect shape.
The colour, form and fragrance of the old shrub roses is magnificent. Many of them bear decorative fruits, known as hips (or heps), in various shades of red, orange or yellow. In some kinds the hips are as large as small, while in others they are flagon-shaped, or tapering, or covered in hairs.
Some shrub roses, such as Rosa rubrifolia, are grown primarily for the beauty of their foliage. The leaves of this rose are grey-green with a reddish-purple tinge. It is almost thorn-less and the single pink flowers are followed by clusters of reddish brown hips.
Rosa pyrocantha is probably unique among garden shrubs in being cultivated for the appearance of its large, translucent scarlet thorns, which are extremely showy on the younger shoots. Other shrub roses, like the attractive Penzance Briars, have delightfully aromatic foliage and can be used to make a scented hedge, since they clip well and still produce a good crop of blooms.
Shrub roses will thrive in any fertileand are mostly very hardy, surviving cold winds and sharp frosts that often damage other roses. Some varieties grow up to 2 m (6 ft) high and reach the same width, while others are more compact, such as ‘Cecile Brunner’, which grows to a mere 60 cm (2 ft).
Bare-root roses may be planted at any time from late October to the end of March, but November planting gives the best results. Container-grown roses can be planted at any time of the year. Plant when the soil is easily worked, neithernor too dry, and not during a frost. If conditions are not suitable when the roses arrive, ‘heel them in’ by burying their roots in a shallow trench until the situation improves. If there is a severe frost, do not remove the roses from their packing.
Break up the base of the planting holes to encourage goodand make sure that they are wide and deep enough to allow the roots to spread out comfortably. Plant so that the soil mark on the stem is just covered. You can mix a handful of bonemeal thoroughly with the soil before you return it to the hole. Firm in the rose by treading the soil. Plant shrub roses at least 1.5m (5 ft) apart, unless they are to form a hedge, in which case they should go in about 75 cm (2-1/2 ft) apart.
Shrub roses need little attention; a mulch of well-rotted compost, leaf-mould or moist peat can be applied to the soil in summer (make sure the soil is moist before you apply it) and if growth has not been good feed with a rose fertilizer in April, forking it beneath the mulch.