The Autumn Rose Garden

One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides.

Autumn is my favourite season of the garden year. Many days and nights lately, I have dreamt of roses blooming in Australian gardens especially in our rural garden. My mind’s eye has imagined being at home tending my roses and preparing for winter. This has been the one thing that has kept me sane during this stressful time.

“The lesson I have thoroughly learnt, and wish to pass on to others, is to know the enduring happiness that the love of a garden gives. ”

Gertrude Jekyll

In late February this year, the end of the drought was looming and we were enjoying a sneak peek at damper conditions after the long period of no rain in Australia. The creek was running and the roses in the garden were picking up after the summer severe heat. The February tasks in the garden were completed such as dead heading the spent blooms, weeding to provide more ventilation, summer pruning and finally fertilising.

“There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling.

Mirabel Osler

Our garden and rural tasks completed we were off on holiday. A chance of a lifetime to see ten or more countries around the world and some long awaited destinations. We enjoyed highlights in India with brief sojourns to Agra, Rajasthan and Mumbai but none of our planned destinations in Europe and the Mediterranean eventuated. We boarded a ship in Mumbai, and our next stop was due to be The Maldives which was cancelled. Instead, we headed across the Indian ocean to Dubai. That was our last stop before we crossed the Suez Canal and as it turned out we did not dock anywhere again due to the pandemic and all the closures of borders and ports. In hindsight this was the one aspect of our holiday that kept us safe and healthy because no-one got on or off the ship during that time.

“Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh, how beautiful,’ and sitting in the shade.

Rudyard Kipling

At home for two weeks now in a Perth hotel I’m happy and grateful to be in my own country and will soon return home to my rural garden in western country NSW. I look forward over the coming weeks and months to mucking in the dirt, working in the garden and writing about how the roses are enjoying Autumn conditions before the onset of winter dormancy.

“The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.”

Alfred Austin

Autumn is the best time for gardens in many areas of Australia. In my rural location the intense heat has lessened, the dust storms abated and the strong hot winds have let up. For the first time, in most cases, the rose plants have had a chance to bloom properly. I cut back thousands of rose buds in summer because of the severe damage from high winds, extreme temperatures and buds half eaten by thirsty and heat stressed birds.

“It is only the farmer who faithfully plants seeds in the Spring, who reaps a harvest in the Autumn. ” 

B C Forbes

Autumn Rose Care

What a brilliant time of year Autumn is? The days are clear and often less windy, the temperature is warm yet not as intense and the roses can cool off overnight. The gardener also can enjoy the early cooler mornings. It is the best chance to prepare the garden for stunning high quality rose blooms in the coming Spring. There are many tasks I have longed to be able to get my hands into whilst being away and I can imagine the extent of the weeds on my return, especially after the welcome recent rain.

“It’s the time that you spent on your rose that makes your rose so important…People have forgotten this truth, but you mustn’t forget it. You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed. You’re responsible for your rose.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Rosarians and the Rose Societies in Australia suggest we do the following tasks in the rose garden in Autumn-

  • Fertilise in early autumn with Sudden Impact for Roses if there was no application in February.
  • Continue to deadhead roses until the cold weather begins. If rose hips have begun to form leave them to develop they will look fabulous as the plants go into dormancy.
  • Don’t do anymore transplanting of rose plants before the beginning of winter..
  • Check the ties and stakes on roses are secure before winter and replace if needed.
  • Use secateurs to snip off damaged leaves.
  • Clean up around the base of roses and remove old leaves so as to reduce fungus spread when Spring arrives.
  • Prune any failed buds and flowers to prevent botrytis dieback
  • Check climbing roses and secure to your arches and climbing frames to prevent them breaking off in the wind.
  • Mulch around the base of the roses with nice deep layer of compost. If your climate is severely cold, mound the compost up around the stems. Then spread it out again away from the stem in Spring when it warms up.
  • Tall roses can be cut back before winter to reduce the risk of wind damage.
  • Major pruning is best completed in mid to late Autumn or if your area is particularly cold wait until the last frost has passed.
  • Spray with Lime Sulphur when you are pruning.
  • Check rose labels are correct if you use them. It is easier to identify the varieties before dormancy than afterwards if they have come off.

Autumn is also a great time to take a good look at the garden to see what you can improve on from the design and aesthetical point of view as well as the rose cultivation or gardening aspect.

Are there roses you want to move that don’t work where you planted them or are any not growing well in their position?

Are there any landscaping issues to be resolved or improved upon?

Are there any tasks that you couldn’t finish in summer?

Look at the roses from a colour perspective and see if adding new roses or moving older roses would improve on your intended colour scheme.

Sometimes, less is more and perhaps a culling of older or damaged poor quality plants may make the garden function better or improve the overall design.

One of the most enjoyable tasks is to immerse yourself in rose websites and catalogues to decide on any new roses for winter delivery. Even more fun is to check out the year’s new releases.

Roses are easily available online and the following is a list of our top rose growers in Australia. They are all extremely helpful with information, advice and all have a fantastic range of roses and new season releases every year.

Title Quote by WE Johns The Passing Show

All Content Di Baker 2020

All Images courtesy of Unspalsh


The Rose Society of NSW

The Rose Society Of Victoria

Rose Sales Online Rose Management Program

Treloar Roses – ROSE CARE

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