Gardening: Take time to smell the roses

By Rachel Vogan

Roses, like people, come in all different shapes, colours, sizes, types and forms. Being one of the oldest flowering plants in the world, this certainly proves that they are easy to grow. For some reason over the years, roses have developed a reputation for being challenging to grow.

Let's set the record straight: roses are easy to grow, all they need is full sun, fertile soil, and water through the driest periods.

Even if they don't get the water it is unlikely to kill them, as they are fairly robust, hardy garden campaigners that, when treated with even a smidge of kindness, will reward you with bloom after bloom after bloom.

Growing Roses: Choose a rose that suits you, make it all about you. If you like fragrant red roses, plant one or a few.

 New for 2012: Climbing Blackberry Nip, a climbing version of the fragrant bush rose, featuring a heady, old-fashioned fragrance and deep crimson blackberry flowers. A must-have for walls, trellis and pergolas this season.

Order your roses early, garden centres have fresh stocks in June and July.

The newer varieties seem to sell through first, so if you are after one of those, order it so you don't miss out. There are always good stocks of top sellers such as Iceberg, Margaret Merrill, Freesia and Loving Memory.

Prepare your garden before planting, at least a week ahead if possible. Dig over the soil, blend in Tui Super Sheep Pellets and Debco Rose Compost, add a sprinkle of Tui Rose Food and mix well, water and leave to settle for a week or so. This allows the soil to meld all the goodies together, encourages the worms back and provides a wonderful base for the new rose's root system.

Prune once all the leaves have fallen from the plants and clear the decks, removing all dead and diseased leaves from around your rose plants.

Protection is prevention and is the best way to deter attacks from pests and diseases. After pruning, spray with copper to prevent any diseases carrying over to the next season. Planting garlic under rose plants will control greenfly. Later, apply Eco-Fungicide or lime-sulphur to clean up powdery mildew.

Mulch and feed, add a thick layer of Debco Rose Compost to new and existing rose beds. This enables soil to hold on to more moisture and protects the root system. Fertilise existing rose beds with Tui Rose Food or Novatec; both have the goodies the ground needs to feed roses.

Read all about roses - seek out a copy of The NZ Flower Garden, it has a huge section on growing roses, with page after page of ideas and inspiration for growing roses all round the country.

Last but not least, take heed of these well-known words "always take time to smell the roses" - it's an oldie but a goodie.

- Hamilton News

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