There is nothing more romantic than an englsh garden dripping with roses.
Rosa alba, “Cuisse de Nymph”
Roses are undisputedly the Queen of flowers and rightly so when they are in full bloom.
Old Moss Rose
And as a queen they are temperamental, fussy and prone to all kinds of attacks. With the trend towards organic and fuss free gardening, one tends to give up on roses but there is hope!
Grow your roses together with other plants. I like to think it confuses the bugs and they can’t find them as easily, it seems to work. It also extends the flowering of your garden bed and looks utterly divine. Consider old roses; they only bloom once but bring a glorious mass of blooms for about three weeks. With the recent onslaught of the japanese beetle, they also have the advantage of blooming before the beatles arrive and you get to enjoy your flowers. Some roses seem less susceptible to the japanese beetle than others. Rugosa roses are highly attractive since they are japanese in origin as are the beetles. I have an old tea rose called Dainty Bess that isn’t touched by anything and others like the lovely hardy climber John Davis that are just devoured. Check the roses in the garden centre to see which ones are covered by beetles and which ones aren’t as popular.
Rosa gallica, “Cardinal de Richelieu”
This year I sprayed my roses early in the spring with dormant oil, then later with BTK, bacillus thuringensis for rose budworms, leaf rollers and other caterpillars. It works and is one of the few insecticides, organic or otherwise, that is non toxic to bees. Remember, insecticides are meant to kill insects regardless of whether or not is is labelled organic and bees are insects. Always read the instructions and spray early in the morning or later in the evening when the bees are not around. Roses can be sensitive to sprays as well; I accidently burnt my easy elegance rose “Champagne Wishes” with an organic insecticide spray so make a note of it if it happens so you won’t forget and repeat the mistake next year! Watering early in the morning cuts down on fungal diseases as the leaves have a chance to dry off before evening.
Yes roses take a bit of extra work but with the right choices, you can enjoy the queen of flowers without being a servant to her!