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INDEX gardening

A world-wide symbol of romance, the rose will enhance any garden. Caroline Knight picks a few favourites….

Valentine, it is only fi tting that the topic of roses should be blooming beautifully on this page. You might already know that the celebration of St Valentine is thought to have originated from a Roman priest named Valentinus. He refused to worship pagan gods and married young Christian couples in secret if they were unable to obtain parental consent. Supporting Christians was a crime during the reign of Claudius II and Valentinus was imprisoned, where he fell in love with the jailor’s daughter. but eventually came to a sticky end. Roses are symbolic of beauty and love: the young buds unfurling into a magnifi cent fl ower before maturing with grace. Traditionally, the gift of a thornless rose is said to represent ‘love at fi rst sight’,


ith February highlighted by the romantic festival of St

For the love of

and a single rose of any colour other than red means ‘thank you’. The single red rose doesn’t need any explanation, particularly on Valentine’s Day – but if you feel generous and give a bunch of 12 red roses, you should perhaps be aware that the gesture means, ‘I want to marry you’!

If your loved one is a

gardening enthusiast, he or she might prefer a living rose that can be planted now for future pleasure in the years to come. Bare-root roses might not strike the pose of a perfect present – but will be a true test of your

Common varieties:

Wild roses such as Rosa rugosa and Rosa canina – ideal for informal hedges. Old Garden rose varieties include the pink, scented Rosa Chinensis. Flowers are large – can be high maintenance. Hybrid tea roses – varieties include Claret, a red/crimson with a lovely fragrance and the award-winning Aphrodite pink rose, complete with good disease resistance. Hybrid tea are very popular, originating from the old tea roses that smelt of spiced tea. They have strong, single blooms and are good for cutting. Floribunda roses, with their delightful profusion of smaller clusters of fl owers are repeat fl owering – but choose your variety carefully for good scent

and disease resistance. Try Joie de Vivre, an apricot variety and Rose of the Year 2011. Ground cover roses – look wonderful draping across a low wall. Try Kent, a white variety with excellent attributes including large clusters of rain-tolerant blooms, or Tango Showground, an orange- scented ground-cover rose. Shrub roses – modern equivalent to the Old Garden variety. They have been bred over the last 100 years or so and are thus more disease resistant, with larger fl owers that bloom for a longer period of time. Can look great at the back of borders, or even as a specimen, in which case consider Ferdinand Pichard, an unusual striped fl ower variety

getting married? – Princess Alexandra of Kent

partner’s genuine affection (for gardening, at least). They should be planted before the spring growing fl ush really takes off, but avoid frosted ground and remember to add some organic compost to the planting hole. You can include a dose of naturally-occurring mycorrhizal fungi for the roots of your new rose, which will get it off to the best possible start. These little beasties form a symbiotic relationship with a plant – a mutually benefi cial arrangement which draws nutrients to the plant and improves the entire root effectiveness. This will help


with its bold pink, crimson and purple clashes of colour. Rambling roses. Great for growing up through trees; not so happy when tamed to a trellis. Generally fl ower only once a year – but it’s a show worth waiting for. Rambling Rector has fl ushes of white and cream golden centred fl owers and a heady scent.

enormously when you forget to water it. These canny organisms actually replenish and improve the soil – so you can view them as an invisible team of ‘under gardeners’ working tirelessly to keep your plants healthy. But which rose to buy?

There are literally dozens of different types of roses and thousands of varieties in each category. And, while you might not want to create a formal rose garden, your specimen will make a strong statement wherever it is positioned, so it’s vital to choose the best for your particular situation.

Climbing roses are a more orderly bunch of characters. They love to grow over pergolas and can usually be trained to obey the chief gardener. They often fl ower more than once per year so are more ‘showy’ than their rambling cousins. Try Gardener’s Glory, a yellow rose that’s a Gold Standard Award- winner, or Gloriana, a striking purple rose that fl owers almost all summer long. Patio roses are smaller than the shrub varieties but larger than miniature ones. They are suitable for pots and containers but don’t like to live indoors. Try the Gold Standard Award- winning George Best, a lovely red which fades to pink or how about Special Friend for a special friend? It’s the palest of pinks with a delicate fragrance.


The INDEX magazine February 2012

Roses all from David Austin Roses

Lady of Shalott

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