Autumn is the time of year when I hide the secateurs if my mother is coming to visit! We are at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to rose pruning and it is a battle which no side will ever concede. Known in the family as “The War of the Roses” my mother is a harsh pruner, chopping all my beloved blooms into stumpy sticks, believing that they will be bigger and stronger next year. I, on the other hand, am a die-hard duel pruner.
During the last hints that we ever had a summer in Britain, my roses can flower up until the end of November, I have even had the odd Christmas rose. Ok, being honest it only happened once, last year as it was such a mild winter, yet it was still a lovely treat worthy of note.
My Rose Plan:
– Deadhead the whole plant, do not let it become rose hip laden yet
– Delicately prune the dead, dying spindly pieces and side shoots away till you have a few good branches on the main plant, it has a better chance to create the last new flowers.
– When the last flowers have gone, leave them alone (Mum, are you reading this?) Rose hips will turn orange or red, especially the climbing/rambling type. They provide autumn and winter colour, and food for garden birds.
– In March give them a proper pruning. Not as severe as someone might like, but a good going over is a grand plan. Cut the main stems by a quarter to just above a healthy bud that faces outwards any dead stems can be taken out too.
The good old BBC has taken my side of the argument –http://www.bbc.co.uk/gardening/basics/techniques/pruning_roses1.shtml. However there is the other method and one which my mother adheres to with a passion.
– Hack them back to an unsightly stalk at the end of October and forget about them.
– The end!
To be fair to my mum, her roses always look beautiful in summer and she will claim that it is because of her method. Mind you, I believe that mine look lovely too, and provide colour for longer.
The RHS website has plenty of wonderful advice on caring for roses, you can visit their website by following this link: https://www.rhs.org.uk/plants/popular/roses
I want to look through the shutters in my kitchen and see a bed of green, the wonderful gold of the leaves and the bright red of the rose hips. My mother, on the other hand, has sticks for rose bushes but she does plant lots of winter primroses and cyclamens to give her garden a bit of colour, so at ground level, at least, there is some cheery colour to be seen during the cold and gloomy months.
I don’t think we will ever agree on which is the best method, but one thing is for sure, War of the Roses aside, I do have a wonderful old Mum!