Everything’s coming up roses


This is the month for roses. Classic roses that adorn our walled kitchen garden are at their peak around the middle of June.

At this time of year, I love nothing more than going into the walled garden first thing in the morning and taking in the wonderful, rich, sweet fragrance of the roses. These include the sumptuous overlapping magenta petals of ‘Tuscany Superb’, Rosa gallica ‘Versicolor’ which is a very old variety of rose with large splashes of pink and white on a crimson background (see photo) and Rosa ‘Rhapsody In Blue’ which is the closest to a blue rose you will find, with clusters of blue/purple blooms. I am drawn to these plants by the romance of their names, their scent and of course by their flowers. At this time of year every Friday morning I go into the garden with a basket and pick a selection for the house.

Unlike hybrid tea or floribunda roses – classic, or old roses produce only one batch of flowers – this is their time. Classic roses include the groups gallica, albas, damasks and rugosa. Their astonishing beauty would be reason enough for me to to grow them, but the truth is that few plants are as trouble-free or easy to grow. All are really tough shrubs and will grow in almost any soil or position.

To get the best from any rose I plant them deeply in a generous hole that encourages the roots to spread and I incorporate plenty of manure or garden compost. When you buy roses in a container, the graft point is usually one inch or more above the compost level but this should be buried below the soil level when planting to reduce suckering.

Columbine and its surrounding countryside are at their very best. So much is still yet to come even though the garden is brimming over with beauty. June must be savoured to the very last drop.