The busiest week of the garden calendar is behind us and all the pruning has been completed. Pruning has to be the most important activity in the garden.
The annual pruning of the roses does not only allow for the re-shaping of the rosebush but it is also the time to remove old and diseased wood. This ensures that the bush stays young, vigorous and healthy, encouraging better and more prolific blooms.
Our approach is somewhat between a light and severe pruning. With some of the bushes more than 15 years old, we tend to prune these lighter. With a regular deadheading regime during the season, there are fewer dead blooms to remove and we can concentrate on the branches.
The spring and summer display of the rosarium depends on the success of the winter pruning. Pruning the more than 125 different rose bushes in the rosarium and garden borders, is no mean task. It normally takes three of us 2 days of full-out pruning.
Seeing the neatly pruned and cleaned rose garden at the end of the two days gives a different kind of satisfaction. With battle scars from the thorns and a stiff back from being in a bent position for two days, it feels good to finally look back on our handy-work.
The stark, pruned rose-bushes, holds the excitement for spring and the anticipation of the next season’s display. Every year the rosarium looks different. It is a joy to see the magic of nature revealed in a multi-coloured rosarium.
The dormant roses are sprayed with Lime-Sulphur to give them a head-start on several diseases. These include the likes of powdery mildew, rose black spot, rusts, anthracnose, spur blight and cane blight. I have agonised over the use of Lime-Sulphur in the garden but after finding that it has been recommended for use in an organic garden, I have no qualms. After reading ‘The Organic Gardener's Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control’, I decided that it was fine to use it as part of the preparation of the fruit trees and rose-bushes, for summer.
We still need to feed them. After feeding and as soon as my order of compost arrives, we will dress the bed to help the garden retain moisture during the warm summer months.
Roses demand a lot of care from their gardener, but in return they give so much more in visual and fragrant pleasure.