Life In The Autumn Garden

Many hours have been spent in the garden this week. I’m taking advantage of the cool mornings that allow at least five hours of gardening before the sun’s intensity becomes too hot. It is cathartic, cutting back summer growth and pulling weeds so tall in some spots they were up to my shoulders. The word neglect comes to mind, and I felt very guilty that I allowed the weeds to take over so much.

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

The roses are starting to bloom for the first time in ages, so the garden has some colour again. On my return home from summer travels, I found my Lady of Shalott roses almost defoliated. I am unsure if the cause was heat shock or spider mites, but after daily nurturing, they are fortunately back looking healthy again with fresh foliage and many buds. The first blooms opening are not as deeply apricot as the Spring bloom but are always lovely.

What a brilliant time of year Autumn is, with clear and often less windy days. The temperature is hot yet not as intense, and the roses can cool off overnight. I love this time of year. The tasks I attempt each morning have significantly improved the garden, including the planting out of The Fairy Rose. I had grown this for several years in an old wheelbarrow, but it had grown too large, so I’ve moved it into the garden, leaving me with an excellent vessel for planting a draping groundcover; Dichondra Silver Falls with rich plum-coloured annual Pansies.

“Hope is one of the essential tools of a farmer or gardener.”

Amy Stewart, 

Despite the sun’s warmth, I also transplanted several roses growing in the Potager area this week. Giving me room for the Dwarf Crepe Myrtle and more pansies, herbs and leafy greens with daffodil bulbs underneath. So, all my Canberra garden finds have been planted out. Now the trick is to keep new and relocated plants happy until established before the start of winter and frost.; a little rain would be perfect.

Let us give nature a chance; she knows her business better than we do.  

Michael Eyquen de Montaigne

As I worked this week, I was in planning mode, looking at ways to highlight the roses and perennials without them becoming too jam-packed and disturbing the essential airflow. So, I’m keen to work out new options for both design and maintenance. The first one is that I am relaying the stone base around the taps early tomorrow morning to add more garden area, slightly less lawn and more serviceable tap/hose space. This will involve lifting all the existing large stones and weeding underneath, then laying them down in a more suitable way to reduce weeds and be more level; it’s a huge task but worth it.

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.
Albert Camus,

Most of my ideas require relocating several roses, which should be done in winter dormancy. So there is plenty to plot and plan going forward towards winter. I aim to refine the plant selection and continue with the ones that grow easily, like the climate and do not lose colour in the heat. There are wonderful plants I’d love to grow, but the climate is unsuitable for many. What I consider the most important aspect is not the individuality of each rose but how the specific elements in the roses and other plants combine, interact, sit in the environment, and together create the whole garden.

As I pull the weeds, I look at every rose to determine its health, significance, position and blooming power and then decide if it aligns with the future design of the rose garden. Time brings changes, and what I may have planted six years ago may not have the growing habits of the roses I’m looking for today. Will it go, or will it stay!!

“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

Last year’s great success was Mango Tango Rose, which is mass planted in troughs under the olive trees. The ground is far too hard and thick with old olive tree roots, so large long troughs filled with premium potting mix are better options. Mango Tango is very prolific, healthy and never without roses that glow in the afternoon light. It is fast-growing to 120 cm, disease resistant and does not mind some shade. Each bloom is a colourful mix of richly coloured apricot, orange and yellow.

As Good As It Gets Rose; Courtesy of

As Good As It Gets is the rose I’ve chosen for winter planting this year for a similar mass-planted design. This one also aligns with my desire to add red roses to the garden. Kardinal was initially the first and only red rose I’ve grown here. It was time to expand the colour palette, and I’m looking forward to these, which will also grow in large troughs, this time in the front along the sunroom windows. ‘As Good As It Gets’ will grow to one metre, which is perfect and will not obstruct any view of the garden from the inside but instead provide a burst of rich colour.

Red represents your passion, courage, energy, warmth, action, and attraction.

Quotes Queen

As Good As It Gets, as the name suggests, has it all; disease resistance, good foliage, citrus fragrance, gorgeous colouring, and is suitable for containers. Described by the sellers as either a dark pink to blackberry colour or rich plum to merlot red- perfect. Bred by Brad Jalbert in Canada in 2016 and introduced in Australia by Rankins Nursery as a Floribunda 2016 (BASgoodas) -‘ As Good As It Gets. The plant habit is compact, with high-centred blooms in large clusters and flowers freely throughout the growing season.

Dublin Bay Climbing; Image courtesy of

Another true red rose this week in the garden is Dublin Bay Climbing bought from our local rose wholesaler Eureka Plants in Canowindra. The flowers are bright red with rounded petals, and they will repeat all season. Dublin Bay is described by Diana from Silkies Rose Farm as

A worthy climbing rose to plant because it is such a spectacular performer with flowers from the earliest Spring until well into the Winter – in very warm areas, this rose will flower all year and every year I prune it, I will prune flowers off, no matter how late it is pruned!

Dublin Bay Climbing rose was bred by Samuel Darragh McGredy IV (1932 Ireland- August 25, 2019, Auckland ) in 1969 and introduced in Ireland by Samuel McGredy and Son, Nurserymen as ‘Dublin Bay’ (MACdub ) – A floribunda climber. Sam McGredy IV took over the family rose business in Ireland in 1952 and introduced his first roses in 1958. In 1972, he moved his whole rose business to New Zealand, to a more temperate climate that eliminated the need for greenhouses.

My idea for roses in my lifetime is that the gardener may order any colour he wants in any form — as a bush rose, as a climber, or as a miniature. I would do away with the terms ‘hybrid tea’ and ‘floribunda’. Instead I would classify roses according to use — for house decoration, for garden display, for exhibition, for climbing or rambling, for ground cover, for greenhouses…”

Sam McGredy

Rosarians and the Rose Societies in Australia suggest the following tasks for the garden in Autumn.

  • Fertilise in early autumn with Sudden Impact for Roses.
  • A foliar spray of Seasol, Eco Seaweed or Charlie Carp across all the foliage.
  • Continue to deadhead roses until the cold weather begins. If rose hips have begun to form, leave them to develop, they always look fabulous as the plants go into dormancy.
  • Check the ties and stakes on the roses are secure before winter and replace them if needed.
  • Use secateurs to snip off damaged leaves.
  • Clean up around the base of roses and remove old leaves to reduce fungal spread.
  • Prune any failed buds and flowers to prevent botrytis dieback
  • Check climbing roses and secure them to the arches and frames to prevent breakages
  • Mulch around the base of the roses with a deep layer of compost. If the climate is severely cold, mound the compost around the stems.
  • Cut back tall roses before winter to reduce the risk of wind damage.
  • All 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.

And now, after a day of light rain, it is back to the garden for more planting and weeding today.

Content Di Baker March 2023

Images Di Baker March 2023 or as cited

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