Winter roses

 Winter is upon us and in the garden there are still a few roses clinging on to their flowers, just a few, but each one is a welcome sight.

Gertrude Jekyll

They're not perfect, but then I do not aim for perfection in my garden I aim for what pleases me.  Roses please me.

Belle de Jour

Winter rose flowers take on a translucent demeanor.  You can almost see them shivering.  I am fairly certain they take on a pitiful voice this time of year 'look at me mum, I'm still flowering...... love me......'  

and I do love them.

Claire Austin 

.....all of them, even those where the rain and damp has made the flowers 'ball' and not open properly.  I saw on Gardeners World some weeks ago where Monty gently stroked the flower head into unfurling; but that was in drier conditions then we have now.  In summer months I often just prune off the balled flowers to encourage more to develop.  This time of year I leave them as pops of colour.
Graham Thomas

When I first started to think of writing this post, I did not realise just how many roses were still trying to flower in the garden.  We have had a few frosty nights but nothing serious yet.  We are approaching the shortest day so daylight is in short supply.  Many days have been rainy and damp too, there has not been enough sun to really help them.


I admire the tenacity of these roses, that want to keep going against all the odds.  I look at this bud on my Portmeirion rose and know that if it can possibly open it will.  There is something magnificent in all plants that just want to keep on going.   I do have a few plants that  I pamper and look after carefully, but in general what I like to to grow are those bullet-proof plants that keep on going, year after year, with little help or intervention from me.  Not all roses fall into this category as some can be a bit of a diva.  Yet I put up with their whiles and fancies as they are worth it.

Winchester Cathedral

This Winchester Cathedral rose is not as prolific as many of my others despite what this photo would suggest.  I think this is the most flowers I have seen on it this year. 

Winchester Cathedral

It is a good ivory/white rose and if you look closely you can see it has flecks of pink, sometimes these flecks are more in evidence than others.  I posted this photo on instagram yesterday and a friend asked if it was a good rose or not.  This made me pause and wonder if it was a good rose, whether it falls into my 'good doer' category.  I had to reply that whilst it does repeat flower, it does have good scent, it is not one I could whole-heartedly recommend.  I find some roses need a year or so to really bed in and get growing, but this one must have been in the garden getting on for around ten years; so no excuse.  

I think I have three Winchester Cathedral roses and all three have struggled in some way or another.  One was rather too close to another rose bush and it struggled with the competition.  I removed the other rose bush last year and it has done better this year but I still would not call it thriving.  One is in the Spring Border and it hates it there.  There is too much shade and I can hear it grumbling all the time.  This Spring I pruned it heavily with no real care if it finished it off or not.  It did not finish it and it has grown back, but now it is grumbling even louder about cruelty and blame-cultures and various other unsubstantiated accusations.  The bush pictured is in full sun and has little excuse, so this Spring it will get the hard prune treatment.  I am not an expert rose pruner and I know I can be over cautious at times.  I have started to prune some of my more vigorous roses much harder and this has proved to be good for them.  It has made the size of some of the larger ones more manageable and also some of the ones that can get a bit floppy have been able to cope with their own shape better.  The really vigorous ones that will suddenly through out a long stem that is too heavy to bear its own weight; I always deadhead hard.  I do not just snip off the dead flower, I will take it back 30 cm or more and this seems to help too.

In the meantime I shall enjoy my winter roses. 

and if you want an earworm you can start singing 'Paper Roses' by Marie Osmond.  You can thank me later....

Keep safe all and be kind.