Archive for the ‘Roses’ Category

I’ve just spent the morning working in a client’s garden that was packed full of Sarcococcas (Christmas or sweet box). The perfume was intoxicating, mesmerizing even, and it just got me thinking about how important scent is in a garden.

Plants with a powerful winter scent jump to mind easily,

such as the delicious Viburham bodnantense ‘Dawn’ (above),

the subltle perfume of Daphne Bholua (above),

and the delicate aroma of Mahonia japonica (above), with a scent akin to that of Lily of the Valley,

but as the year progresses, I find myself  being seduced into using colours, form and texture for planting plans,

with scent really taking a back seat. So while sitting on a bus, I gave myself the challenge of calling to mind flowers and shrubs that provide fragrance for the garden for the rest of the year.

Euphorbia Robbiae with Hyacinth ‘Blue Jacket’

In  March and April I recalled the heady scent of Hyacinths really knocking my socks off,

and Clematis armandii delicately perfuming the air , especially on warm sunny days in March and April. Oh, and the delicious honey scented Euphorbia mellifera.

Pittosporum tennuifolium flowers

The flowers of Pittosporum tennuifolium are so tiny and dark that you barely notice them , but last April, the sweet scent caught me unawares as I passed by this wonderful (and very useful) evergreen shrub whilst I worked away in my own garden. Will grow happily in semi-shade too.

May did fox me for a while, but Lily of the Valley has to be one of my all time favourite scents, and how could I forget Wisteria (call myself a gardener!).

The fresh light scent of the diminutive lilac, Syringa meyeri ‘Palabin’ (slowly growing to 1.5m x 1.5m) is also a great addition to any garden.

For June, July and August, fragrant choices abound from Roses (which flowered well in to December last year too!), Lillies,  mock orange-Phildelphus and star Jasmin-Trachelspermum jasminoides. But I started to struggle as I mentally planned ahead for the autumn months.

Roses will still be flowering in September, and then I remembered the delicious scent and waving wands of Actaea Simplex (aka Cimifuga atropurpurea) as I entered into the magical Jardin Plume  last year. These should flower well into October too.

And taking us through November and December is the wonderful shrub Camellia sesanqua, a joyous surprise, both for its loud scent and riotous colour (and also happy in semi-shade),  as autumn turns into winter and the rest of garden looks as if it’s shut up shop for the year.

Erriobotya in bloom 2Another evergreen and beautifully architectural largish shrub (or small tree)  is Eriobotrya japonica, also known as a Loquat. More subdued in colour and perfume than the above Camellia, its scent is a real treat when least expected on a frosty morning in November and well into December.

Then I thought I’d start all over again with all year round colour, then all year round structure and this brought me back to the Sarcococcas, planted where I was working both as evergreen arching shrubs (eventually growing to about 4-5ft, 120-150cm) and more formal hedging. With its small glossy dark green leaves, the ability to grow in shady parts of the garden (even dry shade in mine) and the added benefit of its fragrant perfume, it’s a great structural plant for any garden and one I wouldn’t be without in my own!

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Although I ordered most of my bare-rooted plants weeks ago, new thoughts and ideas for myself and clients mean that there are more plants to order. So having done my last day of gardening work for this year, I can sit down and spend time perusing catalogues and websites again-a very pleasurable activity. I’ve plumped for Rosa ‘Paul’s Himalayan Musk’ for a client wants a rose to grow up a tree and although not arriving for a few weeks yet, I could make the most of the promised mild days ahead to start preparing the ground for this scented beauty. The nice people at Peter Beales were happy, as ever, to give good advice about planting a rose near a tree. Try and plant at least 3 feet or more from the base of the tree to avoid competition from the tree roots and prepare the ground very well with loads of organic matter-home compost and well-rotted manure would be ideal. When planting, point the rose towards the tree and use a bamboo cane or rope to train the rose towards the tree. Next, wrap rope in a coil up the trunk to keep the rose stems as horizontal as possible as this will encourage the most flowers. Keep an eye on growth next year and tie stems in as they grow, as once the rose shoots up horizontally, it will be impossible to retrain without lopping off new growth. Paul’s Himalayan Musk is a Rambler, which means (unlike a Climber) that I shall have to wait a year before I see any flowers, as roses are formed on old wood. But I’ve chosen this variety as it’s a vigorous plant which will tough it out on poor soils and put up with a bit of shade, so with plenty of watering and judicious feeding, I will be rewarded with a wonderful skyward display in 18 months time!!

I’ve also just planted this wild rose (Rosa rugosa) as hedging in a neighbour’s front garden and hopefully will see the fruits of my labour this coming summer. There’s still plenty of time to order bare-rooted roses: Toby Buckland’s Nursery offers 10 well-selected cultivars, very reasonably priced wild rose hedging can be ordered from Victoriana Nursery and an abundance of roses can be easily selected on the very user-friendly Peter Beales website

On the fruit side, I’ve just ordered some ‘Joan J’ raspberries (from Ken Muir) to test alongside recently purchased ‘Polka’ canes and my ‘Autumn Bliss’ patch, for what I think is the best tasting variety.

And sweet, juicy Japanese Wineberries can be planted to fill the gap between your summer fruiting and autumn fruiting raspberries. Available bare-rooted from Victoriana Nursery, and Ken Muir.

And finally, I’ve been digging up Jerusalem Artichokes to eat for weeks now, but saving a few to replant in order to double my growing area for more of this delicious veg next year. The less knobbly Fuseau variety of tubers can be bought from Marshalls and can be planted from now until March.

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Over the last few days, a flurry of parcels has arrived, containing a gorgeous assortment of bare-rooted plants. Delighted to receive them all, but slightly panicked too as they all need planting or potting up as soon as possible, along with planting a whole heap of Tulips that are already lurking in the wings. Above is some privet hedging for a sad piece of land in need of topiary tlc, some autumn raspberries for a neighbour’s front garden, wild rose (rosa rugosa) for hedging and climbing and shrub roses that arrived today from Peter Beales too.

Why order bare-rooted plants? Well there’s often greater choice if you order bare-rooted plants and they’re also cheaper as there are no heavy pots of soil to transport (or indeed plastic pots to feed landfill sites with!) As the growing season slows down, plants that are now dormant and can easily be dug up and delivered far and wide.


I’ve recently noticed on the Twittersphere that Toby Buckland (previously of Gardeners World) has now started up an on-line bare-rooted nursery selling bare-rooted perennials and roses for autumn dispatch. His website looks very user-friendly and he’s a great proponent of mycorrhizal fungi as “its bacteria speeds up establishment and makes for bigger, better plants full of rude health!”. Must say, I’ve only used mycorrhizal fungi when planting bare-rooted roses before, but Toby’s ‘planting powder’ does sound very beneficial for one’s plants, so will definitely be ordering a pot or two of this helpful product to lavish on my next order of bare-rooted plants. On his website there’s also a very useful ‘how to’ clip for planting bare-rooted new plants -well worth a look.

Some of my bare-rooted arrivals are ‘Polka’ autumn fruiting raspberry canes (above) as I’m intrigued to see what differences there are between these fruits and my Autumn Bliss raspberries. I’m preparing the bed with garden compost and well-rotted manure and will now be sprinkling the roots with some mycorrhizal fungi (bought initially solely for the roses) to help the roots in establishing themselves (thanks Toby!). With all bare-rooted plants, soak the roots for 20-30 mins before planting and for raspberries, canes need to be spaced each about 40cms (16 inches) apart. Dig a generous hole, position the canes to be planted at the previous soil level, sprinkle the fungi powder over the roots and carefully backfill and firm the soil around the roots. Water in well and continue to water the plant should this unseasonably dry weather continue. There’s nothing more to do until Feb now, but click here for more detailed info on planting raspberries and how and when to cut back autumn fruiting raspberry canes in February.

Another welcome delivery is this Old Blush Climber rose. Unlike most other plants, you need to plant the graft union (the knobbly bit where the stems join the rootstock) a good inch below the soil level. Roses need good rich soil too, so mix in plenty of well-rotted manure into the soil and sprinkle the roots with mycorrhizal fungi before backfilling and firming the soil.

There’s still time to order roses, fruit bushes, fruit trees and all kinds of hedging as these can be delivered from November through until March, although the longer you leave it, the less choice there may be. Peter Beales supply great roses (and are very helpful on the phone) and this year I’ve ordered fruit canes from Victoriana Nursery , Ken Muir and Marshalls. The healthy looking privet (in top pic) was supplied by Hedge Nursey.

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