As GardenSIte's plant specialist I always keenly anticipate the HTA National Plant Show. This is my chance to visit nurseries, find out what's trending in the horticultural world and source new stock, all from under one roof.
Roses are regularly voted the nation's favourite plant. With such a fantastic variety of colour, scent, size and habit, it's no wonder that there's a rose to suit every garden. Nathan James Dodd explains their enduring appeal and how to ensure a summer long display.
Cultivated for hundreds of years there is now a huge choice of over 4000 varieties, consisting of may types – old fashioned, Hybrid Tea, Floribunda, Shrub, Climber, Patio etc. Unless you are a total perfectionist, roses are no more difficult to grow than the average shrub.
It's true that many, especially older varieties of rose can suffer problems, mainly mildew, rust and black spot, others will only grow well in a perfect location, while some have weak stems that need support. However with disease resistant varieties and modern cultivation techniques, these problems can be minimised and avoided.
Roses need to be planted in an open, preferably sheltered position, away from trees and hedges. Although they will grow in different soil types, the most favourable would be a heavier type such as clay or loam.
Potted Roses should be planted in the spring or autumn and, if watered well, during the summer; bare rooted roses are bought and planted in the winter. Make sure you work in lots of organic matter, compost or manure to a good depth, and plant the rose so that the rootstock graft is about one inch below ground.
Feeding is essential, roses need the normal roster of nutrients gained from a general fertilizer plus extra potash and magnesium found in specialist rose feed. Mulching is also necessary, manure or compost, every spring to add trace elements, suppress weeds and encourage moisture retention.
Pruning is required each year and can be a mysterious art to many people. However, the fundamental principle is that you should cut out dead growth entirely and cut back weak shoots harder than stronger ones.
Timing and just how hard you prune depends on the type of rose. Hybrid teas and floribundas need to be pruned in late winter to early spring, always cutting to an outward facing bud. Both modern shrub roses and old fashioned roses require only light pruning after flowering to maintain their shape.
Deadheading back to a healthy leaf, removing weak stems altogether, is another essential summer task, as you want the rose to produce more flowers rather than set seed. Suckers, vigorous stems of no value, also need to be removed.
British Potted Roses offer excellent disease resistance, fragrance and colour. A variety such as 'Happy Ruby Wedding' with masses of dark red flowers are excellent for special occasions, and for a specific location, a rose such as the 'Golden Wishes' patio rose would be ideal with trusses of abundant golden yellow blooms.
There are climbers such as 'New Dawn' and ramblers such as the strongly fragrant 'Alfresco', and who could forget the 'Remember Me ' Hybrid Tea that has fragrant orange and yellow flowers.
Whatever you decide, the rose will reward a little care and attention that will fill your garden or any outdoor space with a blooming good show.
This guide by Andy Taylor is all about battery powered lights, a very safe way to decorate your home with festive colour. With low running costs and bright LEDs, batteries may be the smart choice this Christmas.
There's a huge selection of Premier Christmas Lights, and it's no wonder why they are market leaders judging by the variety and innovation that's on offer. This is Andy Taylor's guide to their range of top quality lights and decorations.
In the past Christmas decorations were limited to streamers and fairy lights, but not any more as Robert Hall discovered when reviewing the huge range of novelty Christmas items that are brought to life by LEDs.
Christmas wreaths, swags and garlands might be thought a little old fashioned, but Robert Hall thinks that modern versions of these traditional decorations are a fabulous way to combine tradition with colourful contemporary themes.