As the Autumn days start to turn a tad wintery, one of the big jobs in any garden at this time is to tackle to your roses. At Chartwell we have around 100 different rose varieties and over 1000 individual rose plants so as you can imagine this can take some time! At the moment we are all busy pruning and training our climbing and rambling roses for another year, a process I discussed way back in January 2012, which you can read again by clicking right here. In fact, I think I’ve covered almost every aspect of rose care at Chartwell in this blog over the last two years or so. An overview of our roses can be seen by clicking here while a blog about the beauty of the humble rose hip can be read here. Today I want to let you know about the process of wind rock pruning in our Golden Rose Avenue. I have already written about the more specialized pruning which is done in early Spring in this blog post here, and the story behind Golden Rose Avenue itself can be discovered in this post here.
The wind rock pruning of roses is done after flowering and before the harsh winter weather sets in. Essentially it involves reducing the height of the new growth on each rose by between a third and a half, depending on the individual plant and the growing conditions/microclimate in which it resides. It is done to stop the strong winter winds from uprooting or loosening the relatively shallow-rooted roses so easily and also to reduce the damage that heavy snowfall might do to long, soft stems. Wind rock can create a small circular hole around the main stem of the rootstock. This exposes the tender root structure to freezing weather. It can also tear some of the fine feeder roots of the rose and may damage some main support roots. Winds can also snap overly long stems and branches right off the plant causing damage to the stem which in turn could allow disease to enter the plant. In theory, the wind rock prune could probably be done very quickly with a hedge trimmer even, because the ‘proper’ pruning is still to be done in the new year (see above). We stick to the tried and trusted secateurs however, although we aren’t overly fussy about outward facing buds, slanted cuts etc at this stage. It should be noted that we also remove all fallen leaves from around the base of the roses at this stage as they can allow fungal diseases such as blackspot to over-winter and then re-infect the plant next year.
Now, this wind rock pruning isn’t the only horticultural practice being done in the Golden Rose Avenue right now. Once the roses have been snipped and chopped we take the opportunity at this time of the year to give them a good ‘feed’ to make sure they put on a dazzling display next year. Roses may be pretty but they’re also pretty greedy when it comes to nutrients, which is of little surprise when you consider how much effort they must put in to produce those brilliant blooms all summer. We use an organic seaweed-based foliar feed during the growing season but we also like to give them a good boost now too. This is done in two stages…
OK, so that’s the actual roses taken care of, but what about the other plants that you’ll find in this part of the gardens here at Chartwell? Well, to complete the tidying process of putting this area ‘to bed’ for the Winter, we also take some time to cut back, divide and replant the Nepeta racemosa (Catmint) and the Stachys byzantia (Lamb’s Ears) at this stage too. These great little growers are supposed to act as our edging plants along the path but over the last twelve months they had become total ground cover for the whole border! We don’t want them competing with the rose roots for water and soil nutrients so we have removed them from everywhere but the front couple of feet. We also hope to substitute some of the larger varieties of Nepeta for a more suitable dwarf type next year to stop them getting too out of hand.
The gardens here at Chartwell are open every day of the year, apart from Christmas Day, and there is still plenty to see and do here so make sure you come and pay us a visit soon, not forgetting to take a stroll down our very tidy Golden Rose Avenue while you’re here! You might also be also be pleased to know that the 2014 Chartwell Garden Calendar is available in our shop now and includes pictures of the roses here and the Golden Rose Avenue in particular. It’s available to buy on line too by clicking right here.