Gardening: Rose upon rose

No English garden is complete without a rose, but the choice is bewilderingly large. Here Sarah Raven advises on disease-resistant varieties that not only look and smell wonderful, but will flower through into the autumn without the need for chemical sprays

EVERY garden must have at least one rose. At this time of year they fill the air with scent, especially in the early morning and evening.

Roses may not strike you as neglected or criticised plants, but many gardeners complain that they are labour-intensive. They bang on about blackspot and mildew and condemn their short flowering season. But if you choose the right roses, and grow them well, they will look beautiful for months at a time. And if, like me, you garden organically, you can select disease-resistant varieties and avoid using chemical insecticides.

`Eglantyne' is one of David Austin's English shrub roses; it looks like a blousy, old-fashioned variety and smells as good, but flowers for longer. It's my replacement for the delicious old shrub rose `Fantin- Latour'. Some of these English varieties get exhausted by their long flowering season and are then prone to disease, but it's rare to see `Eglantyne' looking unhealthy.

If you want a deeper pink, go for the Portland rose `Comte de Chambord'. The Portlands are small-growing, healthy, strongly perfumed roses which flower month after month. For a deeper, brighter rose, you can't better the magenta Rugosa rose `Hansa'. All Rugosas have a strong resistance to disease and are covered in strongly perfumed flowers from early summer into the autumn, when the flowers are joined by large, shiny hips.

The more widely available, similar-coloured Rugosa, `Roseraie de l'Hay', is larger, growing to 6ft by 5ft, almost twice the size of `Hansa'. Its flowers have a tendency to droop, so it's worth trying to find `Hansa', which has more upright blooms. I also like `Rose De Rescht', another fairly disease-resistant rose. It has small, neat flowers in a rich pinky-crimson and, like the other Portlands, a long flowering season. Michael Marriott, at David Austin Roses, recommends the similar-coloured `Noble Anthony'. It has rich, blousy flowers with a wonderful scent. He has never seen an infected leaf on their plants.

Rosa rugosa `Blanc Double de Coubert' is an outstanding pure white rose. It is unaffected by disease, grows to 5ft by 4ft, and is covered with beautiful papery flowers for months. It has a powerful scent and will remain healthy even in the shade. If I had to choose one climber, it would be the lovely white `Madame Alfred Carriere', with its scented profusion of faintly pink-flushed, fully double flowers.

Crush aphids when you first see them, and they usually won't be a problem. If they persist, spray the plants with slightly soapy water. Failing this, use "soft soap", a natural Soil Association-approved insecticide which will kill only the bugs it comes into direct contact with.

If you do get an outbreak of fungal disease on any of the tougher varieties, spray the affected rose with skimmed milk (one cup to one gallon of water) at weekly to 10-day intervals. Peter Beales recommends this as the most effective organic treatment of black spot. A regular dose of bicarbonate of soda is said to work too.

If you do opt for a chemical regime, you will have to spray your bushes every two to three weeks from mid-spring, when the foliage emerges, right through into the autumn. Avoid using Roseclear, which contains an insecticide and fungicide mix. Aphids tend to be bad in May, so the insecticide may be redundant for the rest of the year.

You are better off with the fungicide Nimrod T to treat the blackspot and mildew, adding the systemic insecticide Pirimicarb as and when you need it. Unlike other insecticides, Pirimicarb won't kill the ladybirds and lace wings which help to keep aphid infestations in check. The chemicals circulate through the plant, wiping out infection like an antibiotic. Nimrod T is less refined. It acts like household bleach, eliminating good fungi as well as bad. It's much better to avoid the whole palaver by restricting yourself to disease-resistant roses.

Roses should be planted in a sunny, sheltered spot. It is often said that they will grow anywhere, but in unfavourable conditions they are more likely to suffer from disease. It's worth preparing your soil. Dig a large hole for every rose and put lots of manure into the base of the pit, making sure it is mixed in well to avoid scorching the roots.

You should water once a week during a dry spell by leaving the hose on the roots of the plant for 10 minutes. Alternatively, buckets of soapy bathwater will help to prevent aphids and save on water. To dead-head, it's neater to cut to the first healthy-looking bud below the flower stalk rather than snapping off the flower head. Do this as often as you can, as it will encourage longer, more prolific flowering.

The general rule for pruning is easy. Prune all the varieties mentioned hard in early spring, cutting the growth back to about a third and removing any diseased or dead wood at the same time.

Peter Beales Roses, London Road, Attleborough, Norfolk, NR17 1AY (01953 454707).

David Austin Roses, Bowling Green Lane, Albrighton, Wolverhampton, WV7 3HB (01902 376377). Both do mail-order roses

Arts and Entertainment
'Banksy Does New York' Film - 2014

Art Somebody is going around telling people he's Banksy - but it isn't the street artist

Arts and Entertainment
Woody Allen and Placido Domingo will work together on Puccini's Schicchi

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment
The sixteen celebrities taking part in The Jump 2015

TV

Arts and Entertainment
British author Helen Macdonald, pictured with Costa book of the year, 'H is for Hawk'
booksPanel hail Helen Macdonald's 'brilliantly written, muscular prose' in memoir of a grief-stricken daughter who became obsessed with training a goshawk
Arts and Entertainment
Tom DeLonge has announced his departure from Blink-182

music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Arts and Entertainment

Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated

Arts and Entertainment
Damian Lewis shooting a scene as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall
TV

Arts and Entertainment
A history of violence: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ looked at the rise of far-right groups

tv

An expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle

Arts and Entertainment

art

Lee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Keaton in the 1998 Beetlejuice original

film

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TV

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
    Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

    Magnetic north

    The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
    Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

    Front National family feud?

    Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
    Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

    Pot of gold

    Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
    10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

    From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

    While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
    Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

    'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

    Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore