As the light came across the horizon at dawn on several mornings this week, a white landscape of thick frost was revealed, all is motionless, and it’s bitterly cold. Although I noticed yesterday that the surrounding paddocks of canola are coming into flower, a sure sign we are heading towards Spring, and my mind is in overdrive, imagining all the things I’m going to do before then.
All you need through winter is that promise that Spring will come. But In the meantime, despite the cold I’m glad for the heavy frost so that the roses know they should be dormant. Many roses are refusing to give up and fine shoots are beginning to appear already. In fact, as I said in my last post, there are a couple of rose bushes I have never seen out in flower so beautifully and it makes me wonder what it is they were waiting for; colder conditions, more rainfall or a chance to show off when all others roses are bare.
Because of the cold weather, today is yet another cozy inside day, a cup of tea not far away and my time spent busy with garden plans feeling inspired, warm and dry until the rain stops at least and the winter sun beckons me outside.
My first delivery of new season bare root roses arrived today, and they are safely soaking in eco seaweed until tomorrow, when there will be lots to be done. This year it will be a Tetris puzzle to fit the roses I’ve ordered into the garden, and they will need to be managed carefully according to the plan, or there will not be room.
A good idea with bare root roses is to plant them into pots especially in our frosty climate. I’ve learnt from previous seasons to allow for more freedom of placement and to give them protection if we have any severe late frosts they are safer in pots. Many of the new roses are destined to be grown in large tubs and pots anyway, and only a few will go straight in the garden. The potted roses can become more acclimatised, before I plant them out in the garden.
Today’s plantings are additional tried and true rose varieties; a Fire Opal to fill a gap in my massed planted border, a Crepuscule to add to the two climbing over the water tanks, an Enchanting and Auguste Luise rose to add to the French Garden, Grandma’s Rose and several Summer of Love roses. All these roses thrive in this region, are hardy and spectacular in their unique ways and have proven results in the garden.
Crépuscule is a Tea Noisette rose bred by Francis Dubreuil in France in 1904. It is a bushy and well-branched climbing rose with smaller blooms in salmon, rich apricot orange to deep yellow. In our climate, in summer, it is a vibrant orange. It is a sweet rose with light green soft foliage, few thorns and a pleasant scent. It will grow between 185 cm to 365 cm in height and similar width. The Crepuscule roses in my garden are in pots, so they have not grown that tall but are stunning. They bloom continuously, although crepuscule struggled with the constant moist conditions last year and had black spot for the first time, causing defoliation, and it took some time for recovery.
Grandma’s Rose has unusual colouring of warm pink with russet tones and the foliage is rich dark green so it really stands out in the garden. The blooms of this Hybrid Tea rose look like a peony flower and open in an old rose fully-cupped form and it has a heady damask rose fragrance and very few thorns as well. Grandma’s rose was bred by Harvey D Davidson in the US in 2012. I’ve found it performs well and has had no disease issues only lovely glossy foliage and beautiful blooms that open all season. No wonder I bought another this year to add to the garden
I have often written about the Fire Opal Rose, and it is such a lovely, happy rose plant always worth mentioning. Bred by Tim Hermann Kordes Germany in 2002 and introduced to Australia in 2018 by Treloars Roses. Fire Opal is a Floribunda from Kordes Kolorscape® Collection and characterised by dense, glossy dark green leathery foliage and cluster bloom form. The flowers are white and pink, semi-double in shape. Overall it is a healthy, carefree novelty rose that is never out of bloom all season long. It grows to about 70 cm and is perfect for massed planting. There was a gap in my massed planted border so a new Fire Opal will fill the space. To create the massed planted border across the front of the verandah took 8-10 Fire Opal roses. In the image above the taller rose at the back is Lantern a Grandiflora rose bred by Samuel McGredy in 1989. The blooms are an orange to apricot with yellow underneath. This rose is very upright and straight with the blooms only appearing at the top hence the reason it is growing behind the border and the colours blend together.
The winter roses continue to bloom. These pictures were taken yesterday in the garden before a light shower of rain. I would love to get out and prune but I have been advised not to until the last frost is over whenever that may be. Nevermind, there is so much else to do in the garden anyway especially the planting of new roses- always a treat.
What to Do in the Garden in Winter
July and August are the best months to prune or cut back Gardenias, Wisteria, Grapes, Hydrangeas, ornamental grasses and of course roses. I have massive Salvias to cut back and transplant to the new locations as well. It is now the best time to fertilise citrus plants and to weed the garden again especially after so much moisture this year. I am using this time to generally prepare the soil in the garden for Spring by adding compost, mulching and applying whoflungdung mulch. For the new roses I’ve cleaned out all the spare old pots and filled with fresh high quality potting mix in readiness for new bare root roses.
Generally, winter is the perfect time to re-evaluate the entire garden because you can easily see the garden’s bare bones. Start by taking a deep look at what is there and make decisions on what is needed, either removing elements or adding new varieties. Consider dull spaces where extra colour could be added or plants for texture or unique shape and form. Can you add grasses and ornamentals to fill those spaces? Are there areas that would benefit from a specimen plant or pot? Are there plants not doing well that could be transplanted for more sun or shade or removed altogether?
A lot of these tasks could have been done in Autumn but it is never too late to reassess the garden and make changes before Spring. Winter is also the best time to clean up the garden by removing dead and diseased foliage, late flowering salvias and perennials so everything in Spring will grow unencumbered.
By now I have planted several new roses out into the garden and pots, and the remaining ones have been heeled in. I was pleased when I discovered this method of storing bare root roses because often they arrive via post, and it is not always convenient to plant them out there and then. Bare root roses can be soaked in a bucket of water and eco seaweed for up to 48 hours after opening the package. But heeling in can be used to protect the roses if you need more time than that before planting them.
Basically, all that is needed is a shallow hole in the garden about a foot deep in a shady area. Lay the roses in the hole on a 45 degree angle and cover the roots with moist soil or compost. Check the soil/compost each day to make sure it stays moist until ready to plant out. This is a preferred method than leaving the bare root roses in water too long. When it is time to plant then trim the rose at least a third and remove any broken branches before placing in a pre-dug hole and fill with soil. Do not fertilise at the time of planting. Cutting a bare root rose back will prevent the rose from having top-heavy growth that the roots are not able to support as yet. Mulch around the new roses leaving space around the stem to ensure water can penetrate. Now all that is needed is to wait and give them an occasional water.
Title quote Bette Midler
All content Di Baker 2022
Images Di Baker taken this week in the garden