First published by Rattan Direct on 19 July 2016.
June and July are the months of the rose, dreamily, fragrantly, most definitely, the months of the rose.
Whatever else is thrown at us, June and July almost always bring some still and warm weather. It prompts roses into bloom and holds their wonderful smell in the air. It is summer.
Anonymous, the well-known poet, tells us:
Each fairy breath of summer, as it blows with loveliness, inspires the blushing rose.
Roses stand for love
And Robert Burns’ feelings are familiar to many:
My love is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June :
My love is like the melody
That’s sweetly played in tune.
The world of roses
There is a whole world of roses. They come in so many forms and colours. Rambling, climbing, espalier, standard, bush, patio. Floribunda, hybrid tea, English. Those which flower once a year and those which repeat.
I love seeing roses which ramble and tumble and climb, with hanging sprays of many flowers. I have Félicité et Perpétue on my north-facing wall and love it in bloom, once a year in June. It’s just coming into flower now.
We like roses but what do they like?
They are a bit choosy but once you know their preferences, you will do well and so will they.
Roses like a cool, but not freezing, winter. They like mild spring days with cold, but not frosty, nights because this keeps diseases at bay.
They like to be fed at the beginning of the growing season in late March or early April. Those which repeat flower like to be fed again in June to help them to produce more flowers.
Repeat flowerers like to be deadheaded so they have the energy to flower again, rather than setting seed. Cut the stem that has flowered back to two or three buds on this year’s growth. But no need to deadhead those roses which only have one flush of flowers because their bright rose hips will be lovely in winter and provide food for birds.
All roses like to be watered well in late spring and early summer, as flowers are coming into bloom. This avoids water stress in the plant, which can cause powdery mildew in summer.
If mildew or black spot fungus do threaten, roses like to be sprayed with a fungicide and insecticide, but don’t over spray because that can cause other problems. Environmental fact … Blackspot fungus is an indicator of air quality. It grows well on roses in unpolluted areas but is killed by the sulphur dioxide found in polluted air.
Rose gardens to visit
There are so many. Perhaps you’d like to visit one today, on Father’s Day.
Mottisfont Abbey Rose Gardens are set in a walled garden in the valley of the River Test, the well-known Hampshire trout stream. Designed in the 1970s by Graham Stuart Thomas, the National Trust’s first gardens advisor, to house his collection of rare, old rose varieties.
Bodnant Garden, near Llandudno in North Wales has wonderful Italianate rose terraces that look across to the Carneddau mountains, and date from the 1900s.
The Belfast International Rose Garden in the Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park began in 1964 and has more than 30,000 roses in bloom throughout the summer. It is home to the Historical Garden, the Heritage Garden and international trial beds which are judged during Belfast Rose Week in late July.
The Castle of Mey, near Thurso, Caithness is a royal garden, owned by the Queen Mother from 1952. Her favourite old rose, Albertine, thrives here and other old varieties of shrub roses and climbers can be found in the Shell Garden.
Roses are poetry
In Betsy-Tacy and Tib, a children’s book, Maud Hart Lovelace wrote:
It was June, and the world smelled of roses. The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside.