Are you sure you want to grow roses?

David Austins: Not for everyone?

Should you be the sort of gardener who likes to plan things, plant things, and forget things, this is not the book for you. Maybe you shouldn’t grow roses. NO book about roses is suitable for a gardener that doesn’t actually like gardening. What you need is a book about grasses and succulents. Or maybe, if you like flowers, shrubs. Not roses.

Roses are hands on plants, in gardening terms, play things. There is no other plant I can think of, so willing to be played with. Especially if you live in a high rainfall, warm climate, where they keep growing, all year round. The size of your garden doesn’t matter. Roses come in all sizes, from giant sprawling shrubs that will happily fill a quarter acre section, to micro- miniatures that will “grow in a tea-cup”.

The roses we are dealing with in this book, the David Austins, do not extend into the widest boundaries of the spectrum. However, they do encompass plants compact enough to live happily in a pot on the patio, while plenty that, given their heads, will happily fill a large corner of a large garden.

Playing in the garden

Back to the playing – what could be more fulfilling than moving a plant to a better, bigger, smaller, different part of the garden? OK, maybe planting a brand new one in anticipation of great things, might be marginally better, but only marginally. I find, once I have moved a rose bush in a day, it doesn’t matter what else does or doesn’t happen, I feel like I have achieved something.

Take this morning for instance. In the pouring and apparently set-in rain, I cut back Country Living’s rust infested branches, dug her out and put her in a pot, (in the meantime while I think of a place she can go where her disease-infested foliage will annoy me less) dug out a couple of buckets of dirt from her spot, then moved Dame Prudence from where she is being crowded by Mrs Hebert Stevens to the new spot created by the removal of Country Living. Phew! Then it stopped raining and has never rained since, and I’ve been inside working on the computer. But that’s okay. I feel sated, having moved a rose.

I guess you know by now that I am nuts.

Moving roses

The point is, roses mind being moved less than any other plant. Sometimes I would go so far as to say they enjoy it. Not so much in summer, when they really droop for a while, but even then, so long as you remember to water them every day until it rains, they soon perk up again and get on with making flowers.

But moving them will never kill them (so long as you do it right), and will often give them a real boost if they weren’t quite happy where they were. There’s nothing more satisfying than having them all in just the right place and colour scheme.

The demands of gardening

Then you’ve got more time to sit back and admire them. Pick a bunch or a bucket for the house or a friend, and plan the next garden! So, roses can do a good job of keeping boredom at bay. But, if you don’t care so much, or don’t have enough spare time, they’ll be okay with that too. If however, you live in a humid climate and want to grow David Austin roses with any sort of success, you will have to be prepared to set some time aside for them at least once a fortnight. Being the most rewarding of roses to grow, in terms of production of beautiful flowers, they obviously also need to be a bit demanding. The more you give them, the more they’ll give back. So long as you give them what they want, that is!

So that’s basically what this book is about. Making David Austin roses as happy as possible in a humid climate.

Introduction –  Buying roses  ⇒