Left Continue shopping
Your Order

You have no items in your cart

You might like
The June Garden 2022

The June Garden 2022

Glorious June heralds the arrival of summer with all its varied delights. There is still plenty to keep the gardener occupied such as dead heading, cutting back, watering and mowing but it is also a time to enjoy all that the garden has to offer. Many plants are at their peak, borders look full and fresh and summer fruits and vegetables are flourishing so we all need to take time to relax and admire the results of our labours earlier in the year.

Having spent the last twelve months writing about and photographing the delights of the gardens at Aberglasney, all of which remain in the blog archives from June 2021 to May 2022 if you missed them the first time or would like to visit them again, I am now going to concentrate on highlighting plants which are particularly associated with each of the next twelve months. I can’t think of a better way of beginning this than by focussing on the truly wonderful rose. This will also be the subject for my talk at the Old Railway Line at 9-30am on Saturday 18th of June, my first talk since October 2019! Please do come along if you can, there is no charge and it will be great to see some familiar faces as well as, hopefully, some new ones.

 There is little doubt that at one time the rose was the nation’s favourite flower and had a place in almost every British garden. However, it has witnessed a decline in recent years as especially younger gardeners have looked for more exciting plants rather than those their parents and grandparents grew. Sales of rose bushes in the UK have dramatically declined from the 65 million a year in the 1960’s to more like 5 million in the last few years.  This is a great shame as roses in all their variety still have a great deal to offer the modern gardener. They have been around for a long time with the oldest, fossilised imprint found in Colorado, USA dated at around 35 million years ago. There are records of their cultivation in the Middle East as far back as 2,700BC, in China in 500BC and in ancient Egypt and Rome. Interestingly no wild roses have ever been found in the southern hemisphere making the rose truly a northern hemisphere plant. In more recent times by the mid-19th century France led the way in the growing and using of roses in both gardening and fashion. In 1867 what is still called the ‘modern rose’ arrived, a cross between a tea rose and a hybrid and was named ‘La France’. By the 1870’s Britain had become the world leader in rose growing and has kept its place ever since. To mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee one of our greatest rose growers, David Austin, which over the last six decades has already introduced over 200 new English roses, has produced a new variety ‘Elizabeth’ with beautiful, soft pink flowers and, by the way, another one called ‘Bring me Sunshine’ which as you can probably guess pays homage to the magnificent Morecombe and Wise. Rose enthusiasts believe that there really is a rose for every garden situation. With around 30,000 varieties available and with many types to choose from they are incredibly versatile and almost any space can benefit from their beauty. Climbing and rambling roses can transform a wall or fence into a living feature, shrub and bush roses can brighten up any border and for smaller spaces patio roses are perfect for providing not only the classic rose flower but also in some cases wonderful perfume. Roses are also extremely good value for money with a typical plant costing between £10 and £20 producing as many as a hundred flowers a year for up to 15 years- something like 1p a flower! The newer varieties are not as difficult to grow as people think and don’t require a three day course in pruning! Younger gardeners in particular don’t want to spend all their time tending the garden, they want an almost instant garden that acts as an outdoor room and roses can definitely be part of this.

On the subject of pruning each of the different types of rose do require slightly different pruning methods but certain general principles apply to them all which makes the whole process much easier. These include using sharp and clean tools, cutting out dead, diseased and crossing or rubbing stems first, keeping branches well-spaced out, always pruning about ¼ inch above a bud with a downward sloping cut on the opposite side to the bud, pulling away rather than cutting suckers which grow from the roots below any graft and not composting rose leaves or cuttings. The timing of pruning is also important but not difficult to get right. Most pruning is done in late winter from mid-February to mid-March just as the buds are beginning to swell. Summer pruning is really about dead-heading spent flowers, unless hips are wanted, by cutting back to the first strong bud below the flower. Late summer pruning in August/September is only for rambling roses, more on this later, and autumn pruning in say November is really only necessary on very long shoots which may get damaged by strong winds over the winter.

As suggested earlier there are several types of rose all of which offer something different to the gardener. Perhaps the best known are the Hybrid Tea roses, now generally referred to as large-flowered bush roses. These have a single, large flower on each stem and like all the rose types apart from the ramblers flower on the current season’s growth and will generally repeat flower during the summer. They come in a range of colours and many have at least a light fragrance. In order to produce a constant supply of new shoots they are pruned quite hard in the February/March period. The strongest stems are pruned to around 9” (22cms) from the base and less vigorous shoots to about 6” (15cm). This might seem the wrong way round but remember that harder pruning stimulates more growth so these thinner shoots soon catch up. Any side shoots, known as laterals, are pruned to around 6” (15cm) from the main stem.

The second group is represented by the Floribunda roses, now often referred to as clustered- flowered bush roses, which as the name suggests have many flowers on each stem and which are also generally repeat flowering and scented. They are generally more vigorous than the Hybrid Teas and therefore require lighter pruning. The easiest method is to prune each stem, again in the February/March period, to between 12-18” (30-45cm) from the base, again pruning weaker stems a little harder than strong ones. It is also possible to combine light pruning of some shoots to produce early flowers and harder pruning of others to encourage more basal shoots which will flower later in the season. These two groups include many of the roses developed in the late 19th century and in the first half of the 20th century, the names of which are familiar to many, shall we say, more experienced  gardeners! They were the roses which formed the basis of the rose gardens of stately homes and were the mainstay of the rose beds which we have enjoyed over the years in our public parks. However, beds of just roses have now largely gone out of fashion and today Hybrid Tea and Floribunda roses are much more likely to be found within mixed planting schemes to add vibrant colour particularly in the June/July period. One great advantage of mixing them with other plants is that they suffer much less damage from insect and fungal attack, problems often associated with these types when grown just on their own.

A third type of rose is the Standard rose which is usually a Hybrid Tea or Floribunda type grafted onto a vigorous stem and root in order to give more height. These are suitable for beds and borders but can also be grown in containers on patios or along pathways. As a general rule these are also pruned in the February/March period and are cut back to around 9” (22cm) from the graft point. This encourages more flowers to form but also helps to prevent the plant becoming too top heavy. Any growths which appear from the root or along the stem below the graft need to be pulled or rubbed off as they are not the same variety as the top growth and will, if given the chance, produce different leaves and flowers and as they are more vigorous eventually take over the whole plant!

The next two types represent much more recently introduced roses and are very useful additions to our modern gardens. Firstly there are the Patio or Miniature Roses which are ideal for growing in containers or at the front of beds and borders. As the name suggests these are smaller than the Hybrid Teas and Floribundas but they can still produce masses of flower colour and some are also scented. Once established they are easily pruned back to 4-6” (10-15cm) in February/March. Secondly there are the Ground Cover Roses, sometimes referred to as ‘Flower Carpet’ roses, which do exactly what it says on the tin! They can be relied on to cover slopes or other difficult areas where they will hold the soil in place, smother weeds and produce a swathe of colour throughout the summer. There are several ways of pruning them depending on how keen you are to battle with their thorns and their often tangle of growth. In the February/March period any dead and diseased wood can be removed, long shoots cut back to the allotted space, strong shoots reduced by a third and side shoots shortened to 2-3” (5-8cm). If all this is too much to ask they can simply be reduced by a third with shears or a hedge trimmer. Also if they ever get completely out of hand the whole plant or plants can be cut back to 4” (10cm) from the base- they are that tough!

This brings me on to a sixth group of roses which are generally referred to as Shrub Roses. This group is a bit of a mixture as it contains some older shrub roses many of which originated in France, some species roses which occur in the wild and in the last 60 years the so-called English roses developed by David Austin and his family. The older roses and species roses such as Rosa rugosa produce some lovely simple flowers, some of which are repeat flowering, have great perfume and often wonderful hips at the end of the summer. They are generally pest and disease free and are very easy to look after. The more modern David Austin roses have been bred for their colour, range of flower types from simple through semi-double to double , glorious scent and resistance to disease as well as the ability to repeat flower all through the summer. The good news doesn’t end here though as all this group require the minimum amount of pruning. In the early years the plan is to build up a framework of well-spaced, strong stems by hard pruning thin, weak shoots after flowering and dead or diseased shoots as seen. Also during the growing season spent flowers can be dead headed, unless the variety produces good hips, to keep the plant tidy and to encourage more flowers to form. Then in the February/March period all shoots can be shortened by just a few inches which encourages buds lower down to grow and create a bushier plant with more flowering potential.

Finally we move on to the larger roses, the Climbers and the Ramblers which are wonderful plants for covering structures of all kinds and bringing them to life. Climbers are more vigorous than bush and shrub roses, are usually repeat flowering, are often scented and are particularly good for adorning the smaller structures such as trellis, arches, fences, low walls and pergolas. The aim is to create a framework of strong, evenly spaced stems tied into the structure at an angle or even horizontally from which flower producing laterals, side shoots, grow. Summer pruning and training involves dead heading if the flowers can be reached easily and tying in new shoots to the support. In February/March after removing any dead or diseased wood,  completing the tying in process and pruning the ends of the main shoots where they reach the limit of the support, the laterals need to be pruned to about 6” (15cm) from the main stems. On older plants each year one or two of the oldest stems can be cut back low down in order to encourage new growth from the base. Ramblers are usually taller and more vigorous than the climbers and are used more to climb through trees or to cover high walls and even small buildings. Most have white flowers and only flower once a year in the June/July period but what a display they put on! Unlike the rest of the roses they flower on long stems produced in previous years not the current season’s wood and therefore need pruning in a different way. During the growing season they produce new, long shoots sometimes from near the base and other times from higher up and during the summer these shoots need to be tied into the structure on wires unless they are able to tie themselves in using their formidable thorns. It is these shoots which will produce next year’s flowers. At the end of the summer in August/September the tying in can be completed and any laterals that have also grown can be pruned to 4-6” (10-15cm) from the main stems. Other, older stems which flowered this year need to be cut back to allow room for the new growth to replace them either down at the base or at a level from which some new growth has appeared during the summer. For Ramblers growing through trees this is often a difficult and painful task and most people very sensibly just leave the rose to its own devices. Nature will in time do the pruning for you as the older stems eventually die back and fall off.

Pruning in the right way and at the right time will help your roses to perform at their best but as you can imagine there are one or two other things which the gardener can do to help in this direction. It has to be said that roses are fairly greedy plants and if we want them to produce masses of flower and healthy growth they do need to be nurtured. At the time of planting whether it be a pot grown plant or a bare-rooted rose between November and February it is always worth improving the soil with some organic matter and fertilizer. Then each year in April and again in June it is important to add a top dressing of specialised rose fertilizer. There is also nothing wrong in using the old method of feeding roses, well-rotted manure or garden compost spread around the plants in late winter which will also improve the soil structure and water holding capacity. On the question of whether or not to spray roses to control aphids, black spot and mildew I think we have reached a time when many, and I would hope most, gardeners feel that they no longer need to do this for a number of reasons. Firstly by planting roses amongst other plants the threats from these problems are greatly reduced and by planting disease resistant varieties this is reduced further. Also many gardeners actively encourage birds into their gardens for the many benefits which they bring, one of which is that they like aphids particularly when they are raising young. So growing roses no longer means that you have to be out there all the time with spray gun in hand on patrol looking for problems. My advice is to leave the harmful chemicals in their bottles which will be much healthier for you and the beneficial creatures which have made your garden their home. If you can’t always hold your nerve there are less harmful methods of control such as plant based sprays, thumb and first finger as well as diluted washing up liquid!

Hopefully the above has convinced you that rose growing is both worthwhile and not too difficult. In my view the benefits far out way the costs and I hope you can find places for several different types of rose in your own gardens.  Even if you can’t, all is not lost because the rose ‘family’ is a massive one and even if you are not aware of it you are probably already growing several members of the rose family in your garden without knowing it! The things to look out for out five petals arranged around the top of a tube and plenty of stamens, the male sexual organs in which pollen is produced made up of an anther and a filament (stalk) – in cultivated roses most, if not all, stamens have, through cross breeding,  become extra petals. To name just a few of the family:-

Trees – Hawthorn, Quince, Apple, Pear

Shrub – Cotoneaster, Potentilla, Raspberry, Blackberry

Herbaceous – Alchemilla, Geum and Strawberry

Have a look at their flowers and you will see what I mean!

Finally on the subject of roses I would just like to suggest some plants which can be used to under plant roses where they are being used as the dominant plants to enhance and extend their period of interest. These need to be low, shallow-rooted plants which do not compete too much with the roses for nutrients and water. These include:- Alchemilla mollis, Armeria maritima (Thrift), spreading hardy Geraniums, Nepeta (Catmint), Viola, spring bulbs, fragrant, evergreen herbs such as Santolina, Thyme and Sage and silver foliage plants such as Artemisia and Stachys.

That is enough about the wonderful rose but before I finish I would just like to mention two other excellent June plants which can enhance any garden. The first is the reliably perennial, stately Delphinium which brings height and colour to any mixed planting. Delphinium cultivars have been placed in three groups:- the Belladonna group which have looser, more branched flower spikes, the Elatum group which produce tall, tightly packed flower spikes and the Pacific Hybrids which are similar to the Elatum group but are grown more as annuals or biennials. They do best in fertile soil in full sun and apart from the dwarf varieties they do need staking with canes or supporting in some other way. Most people would consider Delphiniums to be blue and there are certainly lots of shades of blue to be found but they actually come in a surprising range of colours from white, cream, pink and purple.  Secondly I would like to sing the praises of the exotic-looking Alstromeria, Peruvian Lilly. There are perennials from South America growing from fleshy, rhizome-like tubers which produce often lance-shaped, grey-green leaves and showy, funnel-shaped six petalled, often patterned flowers throughout the summer. They are ideal for a mixed or herbaceous border in a fertile soil with sun or part shade and are excellent as cut flowers. They can be grown from tubers planted in late summer or early autumn but most, I think, are planted as pot-grown plants in the early summer when people see them in all their glory in garden centre displays. They come in a range of bright colours including pinks, apricots, yellows, oranges and reds making them a perfect addition to any ‘hot border’ with their bold, striking colours.

Now for the June jobs which we all need to do at some time during the month.  You may well find the full list posted on a blog this June but if it is not the list is also available in the blog archives for June 2019. Also available in the archives for June 2020 is my blog looking at some June favourites as well as a separate blog on two of our best known summer plants – Fuchsias and Pelargoniums.

Do not forget the talk on Roses on June 18th at The Old Railway Line, it would be good to see you there, which will be followed by my next blog in July to look at some favourite plants for that month. Until the then keep well and enjoy all that your June garden has to offer.


Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.