JOHN’S JOURNAL

Pruning an English Shrub Rose

Pruning is always one of those funny subjects, everyone knows that it’s something they need to do but more often than not they don’t quite know how to do it. I once heard a seasoned gardener say you can never kill a Rose from pruning and that’s very true, there is however a nack to doing it right and pruning your Roses is essential if you want them to thrive and not become large and leggy so let’s have a look at what you need to do.

For Shrub Roses you want to form a strong stem structure low down, so in their first year when you buy them leave them to grow, then in their second year prune the stems back down to 12 inches above soil level choosing an outward facing bud, this helps the rose to form a nice strong structure. Then in the third year and beyond you need to prune it back by half its height, measure the height of your bush and stick a cane half its height in the ground as a reference then start cutting the stems back to this, then look out for any dead stems which will be brown in colour rather than green, also look out for and remove any crossing stems. Next remove any weak stems which won’t be able to hold the weight of a flower, this also allows a little more air into the bushes and finally go over the bush and remove any shoots bearing leaves. Then your Roses will shoot away and produce lots of flowers for the Summer ahead.

If you have a long established bush which hasn’t been pruned properly for many years and is long and leggy and unproductive you can restart it now by giving it a good hard prune back to 6 inches, also remove any old gnarly stems right back to the ground. Then it will send out strong new shoots this year and you can then follow the yearly pruning advice above.

Finally don’t forget the feeding, it’s essential to feed your Roses annually with a good Rose fertiliser and Vitax Q4 is also fine to use as well, this then gives them the energy to produce their new growth and flowers and at the nursery we proudly offer the David Austin Rose varieties for sale and towards March we will have the full range available to buy along with help and advice on hand so you can pick the perfect Rose for your garden.

Next week we will take a look at how to prune your Climbing Roses. Again there are lots of tricks and tips but once you know it’s simple and easy to remember for you to follow, so watch this space!

 

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Here you can send in and find out the answers to those gardening problems

 

My lawn is very wet. What can I do?

It’s this time of year you really notice if your lawn drains or not, if there is standing water on your lawn then yes you need to look at improving the drainage. It means the water isn’t getting away so you need to dig in a series of trenches into the clay filled with gravel to help let the water get away and prevent the topsoil getting so sodden. A good landscaper or gardener will be able to help you with this

 

The leaves on my Bay are brown?

The hard frost we had back in November did a little damage in the garden, not a lot, but you will find some evergreen plants have a little frost burn and the brown leaves on Bays is a fine example of this, don’t trim them off now though as these will help protect the rest of the leaves from damage, then trim them off once the new shoots emerge later on in Spring.

 

Is it too early to plant things in the garden?

The soil is very wet at the moment and you can easily make mud pies, there’s nothing stopping you planning to plant, and you can also buy hardy plants and keep them in their pots ready to plant out when things dry up a little bit. 

 

JOBS FOR THE WEEKEND

 

 

Plant of The Week

Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’

Commonly known as Twisted Hazel or ‘Old man’s walking stick’, it’s a fascinating shrub which forms a beautiful plant in time, full of twisted stems with straight hanging catkins through the Winter months. Great for flower arranging and grows very easily in sun or shade.