In a time when pumpkins and mums dominate the garden landscape, it’s a treat to see some of my favorite roses making their final appearances of the season.
|Cooler temps give Sally Holmes a pretty fall blush|
These last roses of summer can often be the sweetest – the nip in the air deepens the colors and the blooms themselves are sometimes a bit larger than usual. Best of all, I don’t have to worry about pruning or fertilizing until 2013. I can just sit back and enjoy the fall show.
Of course, there are a few chores to be done in the rose garden before winter sets in. But the list is pretty short for most areas of the country and includes more “don’ts” than “do’s.”
For starters, don’t cut your roses back in the autumn. If you prune now you’ll just suffer dieback and will have to cut back more severely in the spring. Wait until the forsythia blooms in your area before breaking out the secateurs.
An exception would be Ramblers that bloom on old wood -- if you wait till next year to tidy them up, you may well cut off potential new flowers. Trim about one-third of the growth now and cut out any dead canes.
I also suggest trimming back bushes that have developed extra long canes. In my garden, English Roses such as James Galway and the hybrid tea Elina have thrown out eight-foot canes. I trim those back to waist height so they don’t whip around in winter winds injuring themselves, their neighbors or me.
|Trim back taller roses like James Galway|
Don’t trim off rose hips, the colorful fruits that form in the late summer and early fall. They often turn lovely shades of orange-red, and are a signal to the bush that it’s time to get ready for a long winter’s nap.
|Hips are a treat for the eyes and the birds|
Do tear off and destroy any leaves that display signs of disease or insect infestation. Also dig up and discard any bushes that have died. Never put diseased leaves or dead roses in your compost pile.
Do identify any bushes that might need extra winter protection. Most of the newer shrubs and miniatures don’t need special care.
If you aren’t sure whether a variety is tender or not, play it safe and add an 8” mound of soil, compost, leaf mold or other organic material around the base of the bush. Check with an American Rose Society Consulting Rosarian in your area for additional advice and winter protection tips.
|Darcy Bussell can bloom into early November|
Finally, scour the catalogs when they arrive and start thinking about new plants you’d like to add to the garden next year.
It’s a flight of fancy that will transport you away from the woes of winter.